People stood and cheered as A.J. Allmendinger zipped his driving uniform, put on his helmet and got into his Lola race car before the San Jose Grand Prix on Sunday.
They were obviously hoping for a lot from the 24-year-old driver from nearby Los Gatos.
Unfortunately for Allmendinger, two mistakes relegated him to a seventh-place finish, disappointing the home folks and the only US driver in the 17-car field.
First, he hit the rear of race winner Sebastien Bourdais' car nearing the hairpin turn on lap two, knocking his own front wing askew, and forcing him to make an unscheduled pit stop for repairs.
After falling back to 10th place, Allmendinger got all the way back to third before pitting too soon under a caution flag and being penalized back to 10th. He remained third in the points, but fell 45 points behind leader Bourdais.
"Well, it's obviously not the result that we were expecting," Allmendinger said. "At the start of the race, after I got my wing almost knocked off when Sebastien and I touched coming into turn one, the Forsythe Team did an amazing job like usual fixing it and got me back out on the lead lap."
"From there on we just had to fight our way back to the front. I got a few guys out on the track and my crew helped me get some more positions on the pits," he said.