May 9, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
Sebastian Saavedra was asked about the pressure of having the pack of 24 other drivers behind him tomorrow, most of whom have more experience than he does.
The KV/AFS Racing driver responded with a mention of how he’s wiser beyond his years, as this is already his third full season in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
“To be honest, I feel old. I’m 23 years old, but I’ve been here already for three years,” he said. “I feel we are already a big family.
“At this time it’s not the time to try different things. It’s time to keep things the same way, focus on the start. It’s going to be huge, whoever gets a good jump or not. It’s a long straight. Whatever happens with the weather conditions and the wind direction, it’s going to be huge as well.”
Saavedra took a surprise pole position in a rainy qualifying session, but the fact he held it together is a testament to how much he’s improved with a switch to KV this year and grown over the course of just the first four weekends.
A setup gamble helped make the difference when Saavedra laid down the pole lap.
“We definitely were slightly different when it was the wet conditions this morning, trying different combinations,” he said. “At the end, we were pretty close.
“I think we made different aero configurations just trying to see who was going to take the right one. I think that was the main difference.”
In the first three races, Saavedra has posted two decent finishes (11th at St. Petersburg, ninth at Long Beach) and led his first 14 laps. He ranked this pole among his all-time racing highlights, and spoke of his improvement this year in mixing it up with the series leaders.
“I think in my professional career, it’s the top level, the top spot for sure. Definitely this is a point that makes you get addicted to more,” he said.
“The level of competition is almost the same that you no longer see drivers, you just see colors out there. You need to maintain it that way,” he added.
We’ll see if Saavedra can back up his excellent Friday with a career race, as well.