There was more to the outcome than the 21st-place finish record books will show in Sunday’s Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America for Simona De Silvestro and Paretta Autosport.
It marked the team’s first-ever race on a road course, with its only previous start coming in last year’s Indianapolis 500. For De Silvestro, it was her first appearance on a non-oval in the NTT IndyCar Series since 2015 (NOLA Motorsports Park).
This time around, Paretta Autosport received help courtesy of Ed Carpenter Racing, which provided a car and shared data with the team’s full-time entries piloted by Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay.
The 55-lap contest at the 14-turn, 4.048-mile road course featured plenty of early incidents, which triggered three separate cautions in the opening eight laps. In turn, it allowed De Silvestro, who started 27th (last) in the No. 16 Chevrolet entry, to make early pit stops and be on an alternate strategy and also receive improved handling adjustments.
The 33-year-old Swiss-born pilot rose to as high as seventh on Lap 18 during a series of pit stops for the majority of the field. The time in the top 10 was brief, with most of her running happening near her finishing position. However, it was a clean and relatively uneventful day, where the focus was simply to get to the checkered flag.
“I think it was really important to finish this race,” said De Silvestro, who has a career-best finish of second (Houston, 2013) in 70 IndyCar starts. “We had so much going on with me getting back in the car, getting to know the team again and working with my engineer. But we finished and I think we can be pretty happy because things started to come together at the end. It’s something to build on.”
Overall, the result for De Silvestro and Co. wasn’t far off from that of ECR’s drivers, with Daly and VeeKay ending up 14th and 17th, respectively.
For team owner Beth Paretta, it was the first race of a part-time schedule that will see the team return for the next round at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 3.
“I’m really happy with the result (Sunday),” Paretta said. “It was such a learning day for us. So the goal was to finish the race cleanly and she did just that by ending on the lead lap and gaining some positions. I’m excited about the rest of our partial season in 2022. Thank you to Kiwi Co, Winnebago, The Henry Ford Museum, Chevrolet and Ed Carpenter Racing for getting us back on track this year.”