I still had fun at Indy

AP Photo/AJ Mast

Simona de Silvestro has had good luck and bad in the Indy 500, but this year finished middle of the pack at 17th.

Racing at the Indy 500 is always pretty special for me, and this year was even more special since my teammate, Tony Kanaan, won the race. Indy isn’t like any other race. We practice for a full week before we qualify, which is good because qualifying on Pole Day at Indy is probably the most stressful thing I do as a race car driver.

Courtesy of Simona de Silvestro

An off-track highlight for Simona de Silvestro was meeting with a group of Girl Scouts who were interested in learning about energy and engineering.

We’ve been having a really good season, but everything we’ve learned is totally different from what we needed at Indy. I’ve had good luck at Indy [I won Rookie of the Year in 2010] and really bad luck [such as when I crashed two days before qualifying in 2011], so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

Last year was difficult because we were under-powered and weren’t competitive. But I think that might actually have been a good thing since it gave me a chance to get comfortable again on the track. This year I had a lot of confidence going into the “Month of May.”

We were pretty good on-track, and I think we could have qualified a bit better and even finished better, but it is what it is. We didn’t do as well as we hoped, finishing 17th, but I still had fun and am really upbeat about my chances on the rest of the ovals.

Off-track, I had fun, too. I played in a couple of charity golf tournaments -- I even won longest drive in one of them.

But probably one of the most fun things I got to do was meet a group of 75 Girl Scouts from Indiana who came out to the track Saturday before the race to learn about energy and engineering. One of my Nuclear Clean Air Energy sponsors, AREVA, set up five different stations with hands-on activities for the Girl Scouts. The girls told me all about what they learned and gave me a painting of atoms that they made as well as some Girl Scout cookies. Yum!