For the past several weeks I’ve been enjoying some quality time at home in Toronto with my family. We’ve had fun looking back at my 2012 racing season and the roller coaster excitement and thrills that are part of what I do and love. When our season finale ended in Fontana with my Firestone Indy Lights career-best of second place, I was almost immediately impatient for the 2013 season to begin!

Before the season started, Team Moore Racing and I were looking to pursue the championship, or at least be a contender for it. However, the early-season challenges were more than we had anticipated.

It’s always exciting to be in the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, especially with a third-row starting position. But I think I would have preferred a bit less on-track excitement as my day ended early with unavoidable contact during a multi-car incident. It was a bit discouraging to end your race at the world-famous track after starting fifth, but you have to look forward and focus on the rest of the season.

We had a rough ending to the next race at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix after scrambling quickly to get a car together after the incident at Indy. I knew then that I needed to focus on educating myself both in and out of the cockpit and improving my race craft. I wanted to find a way to get myself back in contention with the leaders.

I really began working harder on my communication and overall mechanical knowledge with my engineers, Don Bricker and Mike Colliver.  I learned a ton about setups and we started getting back in the groove on the ovals with a fourth at Milwaukee and a fifth at Iowa. They were great about giving me honest feedback that improved my understanding of the car and my performance. 

We then headed to my hometown of Toronto for what I hoped would be my chance to have a great showing in front of my fans, friends, and family. Instead, I had some braking issues and ended up finishing seventh. So it was back to the drawing board for us to work on setups and race craft as we struggled through two more street circuits at Edmonton and Trois-Rivieres.

While I learned a lot from inside Team Moore Racing, I was also fortunate to work with INDYCAR driver coach Johnny Unser.  I really wanted to get back to performing well, so I called him for help. Mr. Unser was a fantastic driver and has worked with a lot of engineers over the years, including Mike.

He spent time with my engineers and me during the weekend at Baltimore, listening and offering feedback. He spent one-on-one time with me and gave me some great advice to take into the race that weekend. I believe it was his guidance that helped me to my fourth-place finish at the Grand Prix of Baltimore.

I went to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana with strengthened confidence and support where I earned my career-best second place finish in Firestone Indy Lights. It was an amazing end to my season and proved that we had what it takes to run up front with help from the team and all of my supporters within INDYCAR.  

Overall, it was really a season about learning, and I learned a lot. But I know there’s still so much more to learn. I’m already looking ahead to 2013 where I can continue to develop my skills as a driver. Hopefully this time we’ll be chasing wins and contending for the Championship.

During the off-season, I’ll continue to spend time with the family, which is an Ostella tradition that I enjoy as much as I honor. Family means a lot to us and as Italians we have been spending that time together over many fantastic meals. It’s in my blood to enjoy cooking, so I’ve been taking advantage of my time off the road by trying out new recipes on my family.

While I do enjoy the cooking, I always try to cook healthy as well since I am committed to an intense fitness plan this off-season. In order to train well, you have to eat well.

My hope for 2013 is that all of my training both on and off the track this season, along with the love and support of my family and friends, will put me in a great position in the championship hunt next year. I really enjoy INDYCAR racing; I want to pursue it for as long as I can and someday live my ultimate dream of competing in the Indianapolis 500.

Season in a nutshell:

Average start: 8.8

Average finish: 8.4

Best qualifying: 5th (Indianapolis, Iowa)

Best finish: 2nd (Fontana)

Of note:

Second Firestone Indy Lights season and first with Team Moore Racing. ... First top-five finish of the season at Milwaukee. ... Finished in the top ten in last seven races. ... Career best finish of second in final race at Auto Club Speedway.