Andersen Racing's Kent Finishes Fourth To Lead Team at Miller Motorsports Park; Grenier and Navarro Are Also in Top Eight TOOELE, Utah, May 16 - Andersen Racing's Richard Kent finished fourth Saturday night at Miller Motorsports Park in the Star...
Andersen Racing's Kent Finishes Fourth To Lead Team at Miller Motorsports Park; Grenier and Navarro Are Also in Top Eight
TOOELE, Utah, May 16 - Andersen Racing's Richard Kent finished fourth Saturday night at Miller Motorsports Park in the Star Mazda series' version of the Indianapolis 500, as 33 drivers battled it out on the nation's longest road course.
Two of his teammates also finished in the top eight, as Mikael Grenier placed seventh and Denis Navarro was eighth. A fourth driver for the Palmetto, Fla.-based team, Conor Daly, had to pit to change his car's front wing after an incident and he placed 24th.
None of the Andersen Racing drivers got off without an incident of some sort in the 45-minute, 22-lap contest on the 3.048-mile road course.
Kent, of Clifton Reynes, England, started third in the Andersen Racing No. 33 sponsored by Traka and Allied Interior Products. He passed Joel Miller right away for second before the event's only full-course yellow was displayed for a two-car crash in Turn 5 on lap two.
Kent retained second during the restart on lap five, but he dropped to fifth on lap six and then fell back to seventh on lap eight when he ran off the track in Turn 3 for an instant.
He regained sixth on lap 11 by passing Rick Rosin, and then climbed back into the top five on lap 16 when Grenier spun in Turn 3. Grenier, of Stoneham, Quebec, drives the Andersen Racing No. 17 sponsored by April SuperFlo, NAPA Auto Parts, CAA-Quebec, HS Telecom, Desharnais Pneus et Mecanique, 66graphx and VSM Racing.
The eventual winner, polesitter Adam Christodoulou, took the lead from Alex Ardoin on the next lap. Ardoin fell from first to fifth at that point, which gave Kent the fourth-place position he never again relinquished. Peter Dempsey finished second and Joel Miller was 1.703 seconds ahead of Kent at the checkered, even though Kent was driving with a sore leg injured in a non-racing accident.
Grenier started eighth and ran in seventh place from lap one through lap five. He got sixth on lap six by passing Rosin, and fifth on lap seven when Kent dropped back. Grenier stayed in fifth until lap 12 when he passed Joel Miller for fourth place. He then zeroed in on Dempsey, who was running third about 0.578 of a second ahead. Unfortunately Grenier spun with 15 laps down to go from fourth to seventh, and that's where he finished.
Navarro ran the most consistently of the four during the race even though he seemed to be a target of others in the preliminaries. His No. 21, which is sponsored by Navarro Medicines Distribution and Allied Interior Products, got hit in the rear during one of the practice sessions, and it even got clipped coming out of the pits as the driver from Sao Paulo, Brazil started his qualifying run.
He started way back in 17th, and his troubles continued in the race when a rock flew up and injured his hand early in the event. Navarro persevered despite all the challenges, however, and was finally rewarded with an eighth-place finish, right behind his Canadian teammate.
Daly, the Palmetto, Fla.-based team's only American driver competing in Round 3 of the series, which is presented by Goodyear, had an incident with another driver in Turn 5 on lap six while he was running ninth. He was forced to bring his No. 22, which is sponsored by the MAZDASPEED motorsports driver development program, Indeck, Cytomax, College Network and Merchant Services, into the pits for a new front wing. The change was made quickly but the time couldn't be made up, although the Noblesville, Ind.-based driver came from 31st back up to 24th in the final rundown.
The race was part of the Larry H. Miller Group Utah Grand Prix, which was headlined by an American Le Mans Series race on Sunday.
Saturday morning's qualifying session saw Kent nail down third place on his last lap, running just 0.365 of a second off Christodoulou's pole-winning time of 1:43.761. Grenier ended up eighth; Daly 12th and Navarro 17th.
Of the four, only Grenier had turned even a lap here before testing on Thursday. He did a two-day Formula BMW test on the circuit's south course last year.
All four Andersen Racing Star Mazda drivers will now get their first taste of oval-track racing when they test at the Milwaukee Mile next week.
The series has three races in June: a doubleheader at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, N.J. on June 13-14, and an oval race at Milwaukee on June 20.
Richard Kent: "The start was very good. I got into second after lap one. Then we had a full-course yellow. The restart was good too; I got past Adam [Christodoulou], but then Alex [Ardoin] behind me got a double tow off both of us, which then meant he stuck his nose off the inside off Turn 1. I very nearly fended him off, but I just ran slightly wide so he got past. Then I managed to hold off [Peter] Dempsey into Turn 5, but in Turn 6 he stuck his nose up the inside. I tried to stay around the outside of him, but in hindsight I shouldn't have. I should have let him go because he pushed me out wide, and I dropped back several positions.
"Then on the next lap in Turn 3 I ran very wide and ran completely off the track, and I fell back to about eighth or ninth.
"The pace of the car was phenomenal. We kept catching people and overtaking, and catching and overtaking. A few people made errors too, which helped our cause.
"On the last four laps I was right onto Joel Miller's tail, but I couldn't quite pass him. I had the pace, but not at the right parts of the track unfortunately and I couldn't quite get past him.
"My foot was a bit of a hindrance, but we had one of the fastest cars on the track so I can't really complain, apart that we should have won, but everybody says that."
Mikael Grenier: "The race was going very well. I got a very good start. I started eighth but I got seventh place on the start before the yellow came out. I took sixth on the restart. Then I took fifth and fourth and I was going to attack for third but I just lost it in Turn 3 and spun into the gravel. After that the back of the car was loose, so I just hung on at the end. Maybe something got damaged in the spin; I don't know.
"It was a good weekend. The car was perfect, but I just made a mistake."
Denis Navarro: "A rock flew onto my right hand in Turn 3. My hand was at the top of the steering wheel and I got an injury, but I still was able to finish.
"The car was good. It was getting better lap after lap. I was able to catch Mikael [Grenier] at the very end, but I couldn't pass him."
Conor Daly: "On the first lap at the start my car started to creep a little bit on the line so I had to get on the brake and the gas so I didn't really get the best of starts, but I ended up coming through with a few positions. Then into the hairpin on that same lap I went way to the inside a couple guys and I just overshot the braking zone, and I went straight and I almost clipped a few people. I went straight through and I think two guys came back under me. But then there was a yellow for two cars that crashed in Turn 5.
"At the restart into Turn 5 I went down to the inside of one of the cars and I didn't quite have the move made, but I was pretty far down inside, and as soon as we got to the apex he came down and I was already up on the curb, and he just clipped my front wing. I didn't actually know it was damaged until the next left-hand corner, and then I almost went flying off the track. It wasn't drivable, so I pitted to change the wing.
"The crew changed the wing really fast; I was surprised, that was good. Then after that I ran a lot of quick laps. The car was the best it's been. I ran a lot of consistent, good laps at the end. I really enjoyed driving the car at the end of the race. If it wasn't for the earlier problems, we would have had a better finish."