The highs in racing are high but the lows are also very low, and Al Morey experienced both this past weekend. Racing on the famed and iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the very first time, Morey, a driver in the potent Jay Howard Driver Development (JHDD) program, earned a career-best finish in the USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires series in the first wheel-to-wheel action of the weekend before being taken out of contention for a top-ten result in race two due to no fault of his own.
After a pair of promoter test sessions on Thursday and the one and only official practice late in the day, Morey returned to the Speedway Friday morning only to be greeted by wet weather and a switch to grooved Cooper Tires for the single qualifying session. Morey salvaged the 18th quickest lap of the session after a fellow competitor came down on him in qualifying resulting in a bent tie rod and started race one from the outside of row nine.
From 18th on the grid, it was a drive forward for a career-best result in the first of three races. Slicing and dicing his way through the field, avoiding carnage, and staying out of trouble, Morey pushed his way into the top-ten before eventually claiming the checkered flag, and being classified in the seventh position. Not only was it his best result in USF2000 machinery, but he also did it at his home race in front of friends, family, and a host of partners.
“What a day,” expressed Morey. “I was disappointed to end up qualifying in the position we did but the JHDD team gave me a great car and I knew what had to be done. We put out heads down and I learned quite a bit, especially about defense. Our lap time was also decent which sets us up for a decent starting spot in race two.”
Returning to the track Saturday morning for race two of three on the weekend, it was a disappointing result for the local resident. After being hit and spun from behind due to no fault of his own, Morey suffered damage that sent him to the pit lane and two laps down. With fast laps from race two setting the grid for race three, Morey was forced to start near the tail of the field for the early afternoon race.
With fans packing the facility, USF2000 drivers rolled to the track just prior to the start of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES as they were able to put on a show. Starting 15th on the grid, Morey worked his way into the top-ten within the first few laps. On the second restart, the field bunched up and Morey was hit from behind once again, this time knocking the rear end out of alignment which slowed his pace. In the end, Morey finished 13th with a solid amount of damage to his car.
Morey continued, “I gave it everything I had but with the car’s condition it just wasn’t enough. Had we not gotten hit I think today would’ve been another really good day for us.”
Al Morey will return to racing in Indiana soon and will now shift his focus to the one and only oval event in less than two weeks’ time at the short Lucas Oil Raceway.
Look for Al Morey at the Carb Night Classic on May 25-26 at the Lucas Oil Raceway.
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