The smile on his face probably said it all as Junior Strous got his introduction to the world of oval track racing as he made his Indy Lights debut at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Strous has raced at Homestead previously but, with the Atlantics Championship using the track's infield road course, Friday was an opportunity for the 22-year old Dutch rookie to get a feel for his new car and the Homestead oval ahead of this week's official group session. He eventually logged a total of 150 laps during a day of private testing for series newcomers.
“Today was great,” Strous exclaimed, “I'm amazed at the speed of the car - I just don't know what to say!
"It's amazing how fast they go through corners and, for me, it's been an alien and a strange experience. It took a little getting used to it but, eventually, we were able to run the track flat out.
"This was also the first time working with [engineer] Tim Wardrop, so that was good, and every time I came out of the car, I had a big smile. Now I have some time to think about what we did so I can be ready to run next week.”
Running with the ASR-Nelan team, Strous posted a best time of 29.1secs around the 1.485-mile circuit, lapping around half a second off the fastest practice time from last year's Lights meeting at the same venue, set by Andrew Prendeville at 28.6secs, and seven-tenths shy of eventual champion Raphael Matos 28.4secs pole time.
“In the first session, we had him run laps to get him acclimated and then we made some adjustments and he got down into the low 29s,” impressed team manager Paul Diatlovich commented, “At that point, the fastest time of the day was 28.6, so we were less than a second off. However, today was not about setting times; it was about getting the driver comfortable and used to driving the car and the track.”
Strous will be back on track alongside his fellow Lights rookies for the first of the season's few Open Test sessions today [Monday 23 February], before series veterans joining them on Tuesday.