ASHLEY ASKS…… Colin Kaminsky
After finishing third in the year-end Cooper Tires USF2000 Series standings, Colin Kaminsky will take the next step on the Road to Indy, ready to compete in the Indy Pro 2000 Series in 2020 with Pabst Racing.
Kaminsky recently spoke with POPULAR OPEN WHEEL about his thoughts on the move, and more.
POPULAR OPEN WHEEL: What are your thoughts on the opportunity to move up to Indy Pro 2000 in 2020?
COLIN KAMINSKY: I’m incredibly excited to put it in one word. I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity that Pabst has given me to be in the Indy Pro 2000 series next year. Obviously I had a lot of development in USF2000 – lots of podiums – so was really able to grow there, so I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to keep moving forward and developing in something that’s faster.
I had an opportunity to drive the car at IMS in October and that was pretty cool. I’m really excited for it.
POW: You just mentioned it – the test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. How did that go for you?
COLIN: Very well. That was something that was kind of surprising to me, I think, in a sense. It wasn’t unexpected by any means as the Pabst guys and gals can put together a fantastic car, as everybody knows that. I remember that from last year when they did some testing with a couple different drivers. They know what they’re doing for sure. So we knew that we would have a great car, but I didn’t know what to expect out of myself against some seasoned veterans that were there, going up against guys that had been there one or two seasons and won races, like Parker Thompson.
To put it second overall for the whole test was a bit surprising to me. I knew we were going to be quick, but I didn’t know we’d be that quick. So to be that quick out of the box and have a good foundation from USF2000 – which I think really transferred over – is really cool to see that we’re going to be able to have some good success right out of the box at St. Pete.
POW: What’s the biggest difference that you felt between the USF2000 car set-up and the Indy Pro 2000 car set-up?
COLIN: That question I’d have to go with the downforce. Obviously from the first time that I sat in the car and put the power down and start going through the gears, you really feel how much quicker you are going, but you get used to that quickly. But the downforce was for sure something that I hadn’t felt before. In USF2000, you have a wing out front and a wing outback helping you – but it’s not as much.
So to have that heavy downforce, and feel the way that works through high speed corners, you can really feel it in the wheel, in your butt in a sense, and get a better feel how much quicker you are going.
POW: What are your goals entering your rookie campaign?
COLIN: Goals – I think they’re going to be the same as USF2000 last year. Last year, I wanted to win a championship. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way. (Braden) Eves and Hunter (McElrea) was just able to drive fantastic and quick all season long and put it out of reach. The competition will be there, and I just want to have a shot at winning a championship, just one step up.
The car seems to suit me very well and I’m still looking for that first Road to Indy win. Like I said, I’ve had poles and podiums – just not that win, but I think I’ll have the equipment and car behind me to do it.
POW: What track are you most looking forward to getting to?
COLIN: Honestly, I don’t know. That used to be an easy answer where of course I’d say Road America, and I’d probably stick with that answer for my favorite track. It was the first track that I had my first race on in cars in 2015, and it’s just one of my favorite tracks – great racing, great atmosphere, great fans, and it’s always fun.
But now with the addition of COTA, I’m pretty excited for that as well. I was there once before in 2017 just doing some stuff for fun, but I think that’s one that I’m looking forward to. It’s a really fast track, and it should be fun with the downforce and the speed; that should be a good one. Also, I’d have to go with the oval at World Wide Technology Raceway. I really enjoyed IRP (Lucas Oil Raceway) this year so I think being on a more proper oval – a lot wider and faster – will be really cool in these cars.
POW: What are your thoughts as you reflect back on the 2019 season?
COLIN: Just reflecting that, it exceeded expectations and it also fell short to put in a sentence. To have my first pole at Lucas Oil Raceway at an oval at a place that I struggled in 2018 and to have that feeling that I’m here for a reason to win races, it kind of sunk in with me going forward for the rest of the season. We were able to put it on pole at the race right after at Road America and have more podiums and more poles.
I think expectations from the halfway point in the season kind of jumped from just getting on the podium to let’s win races and have a good shot at a championship. We were sitting in third in points, and trying to claw back to get in the fight. Then it switched near the end of the season to just wanting to win a race. So going to Laguna and setting it on pole and not winning that last race, we just fell short there at the end.
We were so close in getting Pabst their first driver’s championship with Hunter. We were able to get the team championship, but I fell short personally with the win this season despite the other success that we have. It was just an unbelievable year that I’m still extremely proud of for myself and for the team, but also it keeps me hungry to realize that we just fell a bit short here and there with stuff to capitalize on for next year.
POW: What was your favorite moment from the year?
COLIN: There were a lot of fun ones. I’d probably go with the pole at the oval back in May. That was something that was really special to me because like I said, at the time, it was my first career pole. I was fifth to last to go in qualifying and I did my lap, and ran it clean. I even had a crash in practice earlier that day and the team worked their butts off to get it back together. So to put it on pole for them was really cool. I laid down my lap and I just had to sit there and wait for four more cars to see if they’d beat me, and they didn’t. So it was really cool for the team to get my first pole.
POW: If you could one day move up to the IndyCar Series, what would that mean to you?
COLIN: That would mean everything. That’s why we’re here in the Road to Indy. There’s no other ladder system like it in the world. You hear it all the time, but it’s true. It’s a place where you can fight for prize money and a ticket to get to the next level, eventually to IndyCar. I think that’s incredible special everything that Dan has put together for us drivers. It would mean everything.
Ever since I was eight or nine, I’ve always been into other sports. But once I started watching IndyCar with my dad – I can remember watching Dan (Wheldon) win it in ’11 when (J.R.) Hildebrand hit the wall in turn four, and then I went to my first one in 2012. It’s a dream of mine now, and it’s a dream that my father has had for awhile. So to just be there and just be able to do it one day, it would mean everything to me and everybody that has helped me get there. So that’d be really cool.
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