The 22-year-old got through the inevitable first corner incident and once the race went green was able to relax and get himself into a rhythm.
Getting the harder ‘black’ Firestone Tires out of the way in the first stint, he was able to change on to three sets of the softer ‘red’ Firestones for the majority of the race.
The feature of his second stint was an encounter with fellow Queensland product, Will Power. Both on the red tires, the rookie was able to pass the former Champion. This was a battle that continued throughout the race.
Toward the latter part of the 82 laps, Brabham and the IndyCar’s other third generation star, Marco Andretti were fighting over the last place in the top 15.
In the end, despite being pushed heavily by the grandson of Sir Jack Brabham, Andretti was able to hold onto his place in front of Brabham.
At the end of the 82 laps, Brabham brought the #61 PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet home in 16th position which was a terrific way to get his IndyCar career underway.
The professionalism and leadership that Matt showed among the crew after a difficult beginning on Thursday did not go unnoticed among the IndyCar paddock with many high profile personalities and media identities praising Brabham’s efforts.
He passed every challenge presented to him with aplomb – it was the longest race in his career, the first race for him in IndyCar and the first race with pit stops throughout his career – which has included 18 victories in the Mazda Road To Indy ladder system.
Monday sees his quest towards the 100th Indianapolis 500 on May 29 get underway, when the Rookie Orientation Program begins. This will see him go through a number of speed tests before IndyCar allows him to head into official practice.
MATT BRABHAM – DRIVER, #61 PIRTEK TEAM MURRAY CHEVROLET:
“I think it was almost the perfect introduction for me to the Verizon IndyCar Series. I wasn’t sure how things like the pit strategies were going to play out, having never done a racing pitstop before, but the PIRTEK Team Murray guys were on fire with every single stop.
“The start was crazy – there was so much stuff that was flying around, the buffeting on my head was unbelievable. Due to the crash, we were able to get through clean and then settle into a rhythm for the race.
“The whole experience was definitely different, I had never done anything like the restarts, push to pass or pit strategies before, but it all went pretty smoothly!
“It was weird and surprising to be racing and dicing with both Marco Andretti and Will Power there. I watched both of those guys as a kid, as well as watching Marco from the sidelines while at Andretti Autosport a lot and Will – the local boy from Toowoomba – is just an Australian hero. I thought it was all a bit surreal!
“I now know how the guys race each other and the buffeting when you get close to cars and the racing in a group, which was all new. It really gives me a good platform going into rookie orientation on Monday and the 100th Indianapolis 500 preparations.
“The work of the PIRTEK Team Murray guys to deliver the car that we had was unbelievable. The stops were flawless and could not ask for anything more.
“If I could sum it up in a few words it would be mayhem, crazy and fun!
“Bring on Indy 500 practice next week.”
BRETT MURRAY – PIRTEK TEAM MURRAY OWNER
“I think its the first finish for Matt Brabham for many hundreds I would hope. He has been on-song all week. We’ve had our issues as you would expect from a team that has come together for two races.
“The fact we’ve finished the race, there isn’t a scratch on the car, Matt is safe he’s done a great job and got all those laps under his belt is a credit to him and the team.
“He has been very calm in his approach and shown maturity beyond his years and has gone to another level every day. He is comfortable in the car, which has improved with every lap that he has done – he’s thought about every single thing, plans every sequence and has attacked it accordingly.
On a personal level as a new team owner in IndyCar:
“It is a very proud day for the Murray family and the Brabham family, along with PIRTEK, the team of people that work for me, the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation – all of whom have put so much work into making this a reality.
“There have been a lot of family friends and professional colleagues that got a reward when we went across the line this afternoon.
“Now the focus switches. The guys will pull the car apart and get it ready for the Speedway and then once he gets through Rookie Orientation on Monday – we’ll work over the next two weeks to be ready for the big dance, the biggest sporting event in motorsports’ history, the 100th Indianapolis 500.”