After clinching his first two USF podium finishes at Barber Motorsports Park, Kaylen Frederick is second in points and determined to keep the momentum going forward as he prepares for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis doubleheader. We caught up with the 14-year-old after his strong performance in Birmingham.
After your first podium finish in USF2000 at Barber Motorsports Park, what are you most looking forward to at the Indianapolis Grand Prix?
It was really a great step forward to podium both races at Barber. I felt more comfortable driving the car and racing than in St. Petersburg for various reasons. I was more at one with the car due to my experience on road courses, and I already had other races under my belt. The thing I am most looking forward to at Indy is getting back in the car and picking up right where I left off. I'm excited to keep bettering myself and the car every session, and of course, to go for the win.
What’s the biggest challenge you have had to overcome in the MRTI?
When I was racing F1600 it was extremely close racing with various lead changes per lap due to the draft and no down force. After stepping up into the USF2000 the biggest challenge for me has been having to work and think a lot harder about where and when to make my move. Passing occurs often after long straights, and strategy is essential when making a pass.
How has the team’s structure improved your on-track performance?
Team Pelfrey's organization is extremely structured and professional. Every session we come off the track and complete various processes that help me improve on myself and the car. Having two great teammates that have been to most of the circuits also really helps me get up to speed quickly. Of course, having the help of a great engineer and driving coach gives me the opportunity to learn, absorb and apply as much information as I can, rapidly.
Being the youngest driver in the MRTI series, how do you balance school and racing?
Missing weeks of school at a time hasn't been easy. I try to get as much work done as possible on the travel days to the track. Once track days come I try not to do any work to keep my mind on what I need to focus on so I don't stress myself. When I return home I just put my head down and get to it. There's no other way to do it if I want to keep my grades high.
Who has impacted you most in your career and how?
Over the past two years I have met many great people that continue to help me to grow and learn today. Somebody that has always helped me even when it wasn't required for him to do so, is Jonny Baker. In every circumstance, last year that I can remember he was there to help me out, through the good or bad. If I was having a rough day or if I was struggling he would show me how to improve and how to get in the right mindset. When everything was going well he showed me how to keep my mind pointed and stay focused, which usually led to even more improvements. He was also a great driver coach helping me find every tenth of a second and teaching me to assess situations on track that require split second decisions, and make the optimal choice given the circumstance. Tom Dyer is a great driver coach to work with while moving up to the next level of USF2000 because he is an experienced racer. For every situation on track he has knowledge that he can relate to and share with us. Whenever I come off track and start the debrief he analyses the session and targets areas of improvement. Even when struggling, Tom helps me recover quickly and surpass my goals.