Katherine Legge's wild ride continues with Mid-Ohio Xfinity Series race
Considering Katherine Legge has raced two types of IndyCars, sports cars (from prototypes to GT cars) and Formula E cars, it would seem that stepping into a NASCAR Xfinity car shouldn't be that much of a problem.
Well, she'll find out this weekend just how different a NASCAR stock car really is from the other types of vehicles she has raced. Legge will compete Saturday in the Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio for JD Motorsports and return to the seat two weeks later at Road America.
"I literally have no idea what I'm doing," the 38-year-old Legge said matter-of-factly. "I'm such a rookie when it comes to this. ... It's like I'm a fish out of water.
"I've been racing for so long, you would think I would know what I'm doing. But apparently not."
Legge competes full time in sports cars, driving an Acura for Michael Shank Racing. She won at Belle Isle earlier this year (a repeat of her victory in 2017, which she followed with a win at The Glen). She has competed in two Indianapolis 500s and is well respected for her driving ability.
"I'm apprehensive because everything is so new," she said. "I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to pit stops, when it comes to pit-lane speed limiter on the tachometer instead of having a button [on the steering wheel and] double-wide restarts.
"There are so many new things I have to get used to. Stage racing as well, I guess? That's new to me. ... I'm not going in with any expectations. I just want to enjoy and I want to do my best driving in NASCAR. Maybe I'm good. Maybe I love it. Who knows? I guess next week I'll be able to tell you."
A NASCAR stock car and an Australian V8 Supercar are the two types of cars Legge wants to drive that she hasn't yet raced.
"The way they do everything is just totally different to the road-course racing that I'm used to," the native of England said. "I'm so excited. I've been watching NASCAR since I was a little girl.
"I always wanted to go the Formula 1 route because I was European, but having been out here [in the U.S.], I've always wanted to try [NASCAR]. To get the opportunity is definitely a dream come true."
She will know plenty of other drivers at Mid-Ohio. She is an Acura teammate of Justin Marks, the 2016 Xfinity winner at Mid-Ohio who is driving for Ganassi in the Xfinity road-course races, and she is a longtime friend of Andy Lally, a former Cup rookie of the year who has landed a ride with DGM Motorsports for the Xfinity events.
Lally has been giving her advice as they watch in-car camera footage of races. She hasn't had a chance to do a simulator, so he explained how she could be braking twice as far from a turn than she would in a sports car.
"He said it definitely is going to be the most thrilling time you've ever had in a race car," Legge said. "He said it looks really slow from the in-car footage but you'll be working so hard in the car and it feels way faster than it looks."
As she talked to Lally, she was pretending to hold a steering wheel and touching a paddle to shift, as she would in the cars she has driven.
Lally just looked at her.
"He's like what are you doing?" Legge said with a laugh.
Lally reminded her that she has a traditional stick gear shift.
And then they were talking about how the car reacts when it brakes and the potential for it to gain and lose traction quickly, triggering a potential spin, thanks to a lack of traction control. The term -- "wheel hop" -- is something new for Legge as well.
If it sounds like an awesome but monumental task, it is. She will use the first race to learn more about how NASCAR races are run and target Road America in hopes of posting a top-10 finish.
"When you are around them talking about how awesome it is all the time, you would be a fool not to want to try it," Legge said "It's the most popular form of racing in North America, so there must be something in that. Millions of Americans aren't getting it wrong. I'm pretty excited."