- 24 October 2018
Dexter Czuba looks back on his 2018 F1600 Championship Series, which saw him notch his best-ever finish with a second place run in challenging conditions at Watkins Glen International in May.
Looking back at the 2018 season, what was your highlight/favorite moment and why?
Looking back at the 2018 season, there are two moments that I could call my favorites. The first one is when I got my and my team’s first podium finish when I finished 2nd during Watkins Glen Race 1, as I proved that I was one of the most consistent drivers out there as everyone else fell of the track. The other moment was during Mid-Ohio Race 3, when I finished 6th in the lead pack, only 1.5 seconds off the lead, and achieving my first ever fastest lap at an F1600 event, as I was able to prove that through hard work, dedication, and never giving up, I could race with guys who both have more racing experience, and more money to spend on their cars.
What was the biggest challenge you faced? How did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge that I faced this year is a severe lack of confidence in myself that I faced after struggling at Road Atlanta. I believed that I could finally compete this year, and seeing my teammate race at the front while I scrambled around all alone in the middle of it was very disheartening. However, I was able to overcome it by support from my teammates, crew chief, and father, who all were able to revitalize me for Watkins Glen.
What did you learn / how did you grow as a driver?
Over the past year, I have grown a lot as a driver. I am now able to read and control drafting packs efficiently, as before this year I tended to make mistakes with regards to distance and positioning in drafts, plus I sometimes tended to break up the pack by trying to pass anyone who was in front of me. I am also able to stay much calmer under pressure, as before this year I tended to look in my mirrors too much when being chased by another driver.
Take us through a race weekend from your point of view
I usually show up at the track the night before the first day of the weekend, as I am usually busy with school or work, and then get to the track early the next morning. Usually, during the first session, me and my teammates go out of track and see how our cars feel currently, as we can use it as a baseline to make changes later. I also spend time off of the track talking to my crew chief as we figure out what changes need to be made and what problems exist on the car. We then spend both practices and even qualifying fine tuning our setup to make it comfortable for the upcoming races. I then spend a little time with my teammates as we talk about where each of us is better on the track, and on how we can improve our own driving. We also discuss tactics for the race if we are all near each other. After each race, we debrief with each other and check our data from the cars to see where we are losing time. We do that until the end of the final race, where we then begin to pack up our stuff and place it back into our trailer. I stay until everyone is ready to leave, and then I head back to college or work.
How would you describe your driving style?
My driving style is a very smooth and technical one. Unlike many other people, I tend to have very smooth steering inputs whenever I go through a corner, and I don’t tend to jam on the gas when I am exiting a corner. This means that I need to have a semi-loose car so that I can guide my car around corners instead of forcing it to change direction. Despite this, I am amazing on the brakes, as I can apply more break pressure than most anyone I know and still both make the corner and not lock up. I also believe that I am very calculating when driving, as I tend to follow others around the track and analyze their lines and style so that I can best decide when to strike. Admittedly, I can also overthink at times, which causes me to either do nothing, or lose a bit of focus. If you want to compare my driving style to the style of professional drivers, I believe that I have a similar style to Jenson Button (F1) and Andrea Dovizioso (MotoGP).
I would like to thank my father Greg Czuba for coming with me to every event and supporting me emotionally and monetarily, my crew chief Kevin Bjerke for helping me become a better and more knowledgeable driver, and my teammates Ryan Bjerke and Chris Kierce for helping me become a more outgoing person in general.