Kirkwood laments costly ‘dumb mistake’
By Sam Hall
Sunday 30th April, 2023 - 11:47pm
Long Beach winner Kyle Kirkwood has laughed off a ‘dumb mistake’ that took him out of pole contention in Alabama.
The Andretti Autosport driver dropped out of qualifying for the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at the Firestone Fast 12 stage after an embarrassing 360-degree spin when coming out of the pits.
“It was just a dumb mistake, to be honest. I wish I didn’t do that,” said Kirkwood.
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“Bryan [Herta] was on the radio and was like, ‘Hey, you’ve got the #21 behind you. He’s pushing hard’. I didn’t know if that meant [he was pushing hard] out of the pits or on the front straight.
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“I saw him in my rearview mirror and felt the need to push to make sure I didn’t impede on him because that would cost you the session right there if you impede on him.
“I ended up spinning, taking a strake off our car which hurt our downforce and destroyed our session. But we felt like we were going to be right there in the Fast Six.”
Kirkwood’s confidence in the pace of his Andretti Honda was justified after team-mate Romain Grosjean progressed to secure his second pole of the season.
“We made a huge rebound from practice where we were out of the top 12 most of the time,” he added.
“We were 23rd in practice one. We didn’t get a lap on the reds but we were still 23rd, and to be in the hunt for going for the pole once again, that was pretty cool. We’ve made a huge rebound.
“And we were solid on the primary tyre.
“But what happened out of the pits was just a dumb mistake and that was on me. It cost us getting into the Fast Six.”
Kirkwood has endured a mixed season so far with his Long Beach victory following a P15 in St.Petersburg and a failure to finish in Texas.
Explaining how the damage sustained in his spin had altered the feeling of his car, Kirkwood said: “We lost the rear-left strake and that just caused a tonne of understeer in the left-hand corners and a tonne of oversteer in the right-hand corners.
“We wondered if we’d got some weird tyres there but we turned the car around to walk it away and were like, ‘Nope, that’s our problem right there!’”
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