Updated at: 04/05/2013 8:36 PM
By JENNA FRYER
(AP) BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - It was another solid day for IndyCar rookie Tristan Vautier, who despite an on-track mishap was still amongst the quickest drivers at Barber Motorsports Park.
Vautier ended Friday’s first practice session atop the leader board even though he went off course with nine minutes remaining. It ended practice for him prematurely.
"I went off track and we didn’t damage the car or anything, but they didn’t put me back on track, they parked me behind the barriers," Vautier said. "It’s my mistake in the end, even if it’s frustrating that I couldn’t get back in the end. My mistake, but we had good speed before that and the car felt good, so it’s tough."
Vautier was impressive in his IndyCar debut at St. Petersburg. He qualified in the Fast Six and ran inside the top six until a mechanical problem ended the day early. He wound up 21st, but garnered attention for his speed over the course of the first IndyCar weekend.
The Frenchman won the Indy Lights championship last season and was promoted to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports this year as a teammate to fellow countryman Simon Pagenaud. Through one weekend and one practice in round two, Vautier is wasting no time showing his determination to be successful at the top level.
But he also doesn’t want to set expectations too high too soon.
"I just want to go to the car with an open mind and try to go fast and see what happens," he said. "I don’t want to put on myself any extra pressure, even if I do have pressure. I know I have to perform to keep racing and get results. I’m here to get results. But it’s still my rookie season and I’ve always tried to approach my racing without focusing too much on expectations and settling for my performance goals. I just go in the car and try to make the most of it, and then look at the results."
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)