BILLY GOSHEN CHARGES TO 7TH PLACE FINISH AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE Placentia, CA- The sixth race of the 2009 season for the Star Mazda Series presented by Goodyear was held at the Milwaukee Mile along with the NASCAR Nationwide Series. It...
BILLY GOSHEN CHARGES TO 7TH PLACE FINISH AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE
Placentia, CA- The sixth race of the 2009 season for the Star Mazda Series presented by Goodyear was held at the Milwaukee Mile along with the NASCAR Nationwide Series. It was the first oval event of the year for the Star Mazda Series and the first since 2006. Two practices were scheduled Friday with qualifying on Saturday morning and the 100 lap race taking place Saturday afternoon, June 20.
The teams arrived at the track Friday morning to the unexpected destruction caused by the torrential downpour the night before. Fortunately, the Goshen Motorsports Team suffered very little damage, but spent the first several hours cleaning up from the two foot river that had flowed through their pit area. The crew did an outstanding job to get the cars ready in time for the first practice. The Milwaukee Mile crew worked diligently to prepare the track for the delayed first practice at 4:15 in the afternoon. On his 59th lap, Billy Goshen recorded the 9th fastest time just .3 seconds off the fast time of 28.055 seconds.
The second practice of the day started at 6:30 P.M. under threatening skies. Running on old tires, Goshen was able to slightly improve his earlier session time with a fast lap of 28.335 seconds still only .364 seconds off the fast lap of 27.971. Despite having only the 13th fastest time, the crew was confident that qualifying on new tires would put the #82 car well within the top 10. Shortly after practice ended, the skies opened up and another downpour brought six inches of water flowing through the team's pit. The rain also postponed the NASCAR truck series race until Saturday.
Saturday morning the team arrived at the track to sunny skies and the probability that it would remain that way for the entire day. The NASCAR officials made the decision to cancel the Star Mazda qualifying to run the truck race event in the morning and allow the day's races to remain somewhat on schedule. With no qualifying, the starting position for the afternoon race was based on Friday's fastest practice times putting Billy 13th for the start.
Of the twenty-two cars lined up two abreast behind the pace car for the first rolling start of the year, fifteen of the drivers were from foreign countries representing the top young talent in their respective countries. With this being Goshen's first open wheel race on an oval, the adrenaline had to be flowing and there was more than a little apprehension on the part of team members as they came out of Turn 4 for the green flag. As was feared, the field did not get through the first turn without incident with the first and third place cars taking each other out. In the melee, Billy got rear ended sending him into the air and into the back of the #2 car of Joel Miller. Fortunately, the bad luck that has befallen the #82 car of Billy Goshen so many times this year would not return this day. There was only slight damage to the diffuser and a few gashes in the nose, but the front and rear wings went undamaged.
On lap 22 with the cars lined up single file, the race again went green, but this time without any problems. Goshen, now 11th began moving through the field recording times close to the leader giving an indication the car was handling very well. With only one caution near the midpoint, the race continued under green and by the late stage Billy had moved up to 8th place recording the 7th fastest lap for the race. With time running out, Goshen was not going to be able to completely close the gap with the car ahead, but another caution on Lap 87 brought the field together. Fortunately, it was only a short caution and the race went green on Lap 92. With the confidence the car was handling well, Billy went into Turn 1 under the #19 car of Caio Lara with Joel Miller going high. It had the entire team holding their breath, but they made it through Turn 1 and 2 without any problems. As the checkered flag came out on Lap 100, Goshen crossed the finish line in 7th place his best finish for the year.
Teammate, Toshihiro Deki made steady improvement in his lap times through the two practice sessions on Friday. Starting his first race on an oval in an open wheel car, Toshi was 22nd on the grid. When the race went green and on the restarts Toshi was able to stay clear of the first turn problems. Throughout the race Toshi continued to quietly move forward in his quest for the points lead in the Expert Class. At the conclusion of the race, Toshihiro Deki had moved up 5 positions for a 17th place finish.
After the race, Billy Goshen was quoted as saying "When I got punted into the air on that first lap, I thought this was going to be another bad luck race. Fortunately, there was no real damage to the car. I have to thank my engineer Andy Tagg for giving me a great car. I had a little push at the beginning, but as the race wore on the car got better and better. I really needed that last caution to close the gap on Lara. When the race went green I knew there were only a few laps left and I had to go for it. I went as low as I could into Turn 1. It was pretty hairy, but I figured if I didn't make it I was taking 3 or 4 cars with me. I am really looking forward to our next race at Iowa Speedway; I think we can improve on this finish."
When he climbed out of his #80 car, Toshi said "the car handled very well through the entire race. I liked this setup and I think it will be very good for the next race at Iowa Speedway. I think I can do very well there."