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Kyle Kirkwood’s debut season in the NTT INDYCAR Series will come to an end in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey (3 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network). The highly anticipated rookie currently sits 24th in the standings with one race remaining. While it’s not been the year that he’s like to have had, it’s definitely been one of learning the challenges of the most competitive racing series in the world.

“I think I could write a novel on what I learned, there is so much,” Kirkwood said via a team pre race release this week. “The most crucial thing I learned was strategies. It’s something that’s all new to me coming from sprint (length) racing.”

That’s a common theme among Indy Lights graduates when moving up to an INDYCAR seat. Those races are really run start to finish without any pit stops. INDYCAR races are run with multiple pit stops during an event.

Kirkwood was a very successful driver when graduating up through those same ranks. No one has won as many Road to Indy races (31) than Kirkwood. He also won a championship in all three ladders (USF 2000, Indy Pro 2000, Indy Lights) and did so in consecutive seasons. His 10 wins in Indy Lights last year tied Greg Moore for a series record.

So you can be assured that in coming up with all that success to have just 1 top 10 finish and 5 laps led would be a wake up call. However, the 23-year old has kept a smile in his face each race weekend.

“I’m not sure, I’ve always found things work out better if you’re positive about it,” Kirkwood noted. “Whether it’s the team or yourself, being negative always hurts and at the end of the day we are racing INDYCAR for our livings, what’s cooler than that?”