Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Unsung Excellence: Alex Lloyd

I want to again briefly talk about a driver I don’t think gets enough credit given his level of talent. He’s done more with less than perhaps any driver in the field. Yep, I’m talking about Alex Lloyd.

The 2007 Indy Lights champ and originally a developmental driver on retainer with Target Chip Ganassi, Alex languished mainly on the sidelines for a couple of year before he got his full-time ride. That’s not to say he didn’t show flashes; in 2009, in the HER Energy Car, “Pink Lloyd” qualified 11th for the Indy 500 in a one-off program, and finished 13th even after going a lap down due to a broken light.

I'm still not sure how he did it.
(Courtesy IndyCar Media)
 In 2010, Dale Coyne signed him to become the #19 Boy Scouts of America driver. Now, I have a lot of respect for Dale Coyne and how he keeps returning year after year, but that’s not exactly a marquee ride. He managed some nice Top 10 finishes (including a stellar 4th place run at Indy!) on his way to snagging Rookie of the Year honors. You couldn’t have asked for much more out of him, really.

This year, Alex is only running the ovals for Coyne, but has already proven his mettle with a gritty, redlining qualification effort in the waning minutes of Bump Day to make it into the field. I honestly don’t think anyone there thought that car had the speed to make it. Lloyd afterwards said the vibration in the car was so bad, he couldn’t see on the last lap of the run. His oil pressure skyrocket; he feared he might lose the engine. It was an old-school, edge-of-your-seat run that seemed to belong to a tougher, historical era of Indy. It belonged to 1951 or 1961 as much as it belonged to 2011.

I also like Alex because (proud Hoosier I am), he’s decided to make Indy his home. He’s raising his kids here, and really is starting to feel like a “hometown” driver. He’s been nothing but friendly and accommodating every time I’ve run into him at the track.

But honestly, how can you not read this quote by Lloyd and not cheer for the guy?:

“The one thing I learned today that I thought I had already figured out in my three years of racing this race, I honestly believed that I knew what Indy meant, what it means to race this race and go through some of the emotions you do. This to me is why I’m over in America, why I want to race IndyCar. Every race is important, but Indy is what gets me up in the morning.”

There are many drivers I hope find the sponsorships or partnerships to race full-time, but Alex Lloyd has to be right at the top of that list. I’m not sure how the rest of his season will play out, but I hope it leads to great opportunities in 2012.

2 comments:

  1. Here, here. Alex deserves a full-time shot in IndyCar, either with a shored-up Coyne squad (i.e. one that has a little more stability than they've had the last few years) or with one of the bigger teams. Here's hoping he gets exactly that for 2012.

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  2. Such passion for something as impersonal as racing is humbling. It's always a good thing to hear stories of drivers who have hearts inversely proportional to their hard-steeled cars.

    --Ri of Change Rules F1 website

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