Autobahn I: Andersen Racing Saturday report

Andersen Racing Rules Star Mazda Qualifying And Then Grenier Seals the Deal By Leading Every Lap of Saturday's Race At Autobahn Country Club JOLIET, Ill., July 31 - Andersen Racing, the top team in the Star Mazda Championship Presented by ...

Andersen Racing Rules Star Mazda Qualifying And Then Grenier Seals the Deal By Leading Every Lap of Saturday's Race At Autobahn Country Club

JOLIET, Ill., July 31 - Andersen Racing, the top team in the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear, took the top three positions in qualifying Saturday morning in the rain at the Autobahn Country Club. A few hours later the Palmetto, Fla.-based team's youngest Star Mazda driver, 17-year-old Mikael Grenier of Stoneham, Quebec, led every lap of the race in dry conditions from the pole to earn his first victory of the season by a whopping 3.667 seconds over Brazilian Caio Lara.

The race, the first half of a Saturday/Sunday doubleheader, was part of the Harrah's Autobahn Grand Prix Presented by Mazda. The event is being covered live each day on HDNet from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time.

Grenier was never headed despite the always-challenging standing start plus two other restarts that wiped out his sizeable leads.

His No. 17, which is sponsored by Slow Cow relaxation drink, April Super Flow, NAPA Auto Parts, HS Telecom and Desharnais, had a 1.934-second lead over one of his teammates, Anders Krohn, when the first full-course caution waved for another member of Andersen Racing, Tristan Vautier.

Unfortunately Vautier, who had qualified second behind Grenier and ahead of Krohn, came to a stop with only two laps down due to electrical problems with his No. 38, which is sponsored by Moulin T.P., Cecibon, Circuit du Laquis, Fontanel Promotion and Allied Building Products Corp. The DNF was costly for the rookie from Corenc, France, who won the series' most recent race and had been leading the point standings in the separate seven-race VisitFlorida.com Cup series going into this event.

Grenier and Krohn, a native of Stavanger, Norway who also resides in Houston, continued to run in first and second place until lap 15, which followed a restart on the previous lap. The restart was necessary due to a full-course caution to retrieve the car of Chris Miller, who had hit a wall off the 3.56-mile, 19-turn road course.

Lara got around Krohn at that point and then Conor Daly wiggled by shortly thereafter to relegate Krohn to fourth place. On the very last lap, which ended up being lap 17 in the 45-minute contest, Tatiana Calderon blatantly pushed Krohn off the track and he did at least one 360-degree spin. Calderon was penalized for avoidable contact after the race but the damage was done, and Krohn ended up sixth in the final rundown with his No. 47, which is sponsored by Trallfa Industries, Colosseum Dental and Norse Cutting & Abandonment.

Although things didn't go as Vautier and Krohn hoped, they couldn't have gone much better for Grenier. He had a 4.516-second lead over Lara on lap 16, and he backed off at the end to save his Goodyear tires or his margin of victory would have been even greater.

Another Andersen Racing driver, Nick Andries of Pinellas Park, Fla., started eighth and finished ninth in the No. 81, which is sponsored by the book "Indy 500: An American Icon;" Team Pelfrey and Andersen Racing's primary sponsor, Allied Building Products Corp. He was pushed off the track by another driver in the late stages of the race too.

A fifth driver for the team here, Dom Bastien of West Palm Beach, Fla., had a clean race and advanced from 21st to 18th in the No. 37, which advertises the team's 1-mile road course test track, Andersen RacePark.

Grenier was equally impressive in qualifying, which started in the rain and ended under drying conditions. He earned his second pole position of the season when he was timed in 2:43.240 (78.510 miles per hour) on his 14th lap during the session. Vautier was just 0.096 of a second behind, while Krohn was a close third.

Tomorrow's schedule shows qualifying for Round 9 at 8:25 a.m. Central time, with that 45-minute race following at 2 p.m. Central time. In addition to HDNet's live TV coverage, live timing and scoring is planned for the series' Web site at starmazda.com.

Andersen Racing is one of the leading development teams in North America. It offers karting programs at Andersen RacePark and it has professional kart teams in addition to its Star Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights teams. A sister company, Andersen Promotions, administers the USF2000 National Championship presented by Cooper Tires and powered by Mazda, which is also staging a doubleheader here this weekend.

Post-race quotes follow:

Mikael Grenier: "I think running the practice session in the rain helped, because it rained for qualifying. We were able to get the pole because we had driven here in the rain and so we knew where most of the puddles were. This track is pretty bumpy on the straights, but the corners were OK.

"During the race I just tried to keep focused and make no mistakes.

"On the first few laps I don't think I was pushing hard enough, but then later on we had a pretty good advantage. The tires were going away, but at the end of the last safety car period I got a really good restart. I was able to build up a big lead, but then on the last lap I backed off a little.

"I want to thank all my sponsors, Mazda and Goodyear. I used up my tires, but they held up. I also want to thank the VisitFlorida.com people. I know that winners say that now they're going to DisneyWorld, but I need to mention Andersen RacePark, because it is in Palmetto, Fla. I want to thank my team and my parents too."

Anders Krohn: "On the second-to-last corner, Tatiana just came over and hit me. I spun around and just tried to get it going again, but the damage was done. We've struggled so much. We tried to put ourselves in the right position, but we just got screwed. Mik and I were having a great race.

"The car was good. I lost a lot of track time by not being able to do the test here, but we worked hard this week and we had the car adjusted to my driving style for the race. My tire wear was perfect and I was very comfortable in P2, and then everything got destroyed. Blocking was a very big problem. We can't catch a break. We'll just have to try again tomorrow."

Nick Andries: "On the last restart I got blocked and then pushed into the grass by another driver who finished ahead of me.

"We had a fast car but it was just not fast in the right places. I tried a bunch of things but nothing I did worked. We had a lot of understeer in the car, or I think we would have been fifth.

"We'll go over the data and try to make the right changes for tomorrow."

Dom Bastien:  "The car was good but the track was very different today
from yesterday, and it took me awhile to get adjusted to it.  At the end
I was back on the pace.  I had a completely clean race, but it was a very
slippery track.  Some of the corners were really tough."

Tristan Vautier: "The engine just stopped by itself in Turn 8. We have some sort of electrical problem. The dashboard went off, and then everything went off."

-source: andersen racing

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About this article
Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Mikael Grenier , Caio Lara , Tristan Vautier , Conor Daly , Anders Krohn , Chris Miller , Dom Bastien , Nick Andries