Rusty Mitchell Takes 4th at O'Reilly Raceway Park (Indianapolis, IN) 6 June 2010--With several strong oval outings to his credit and with a successful recent test at O'Reilly Motorsports Park, Rusty Mitchell was looking forward to the debut...
Rusty Mitchell Takes 4th at O'Reilly Raceway Park
(Indianapolis, IN) 6 June 2010--With several strong oval outings to his credit and with a successful recent test at O'Reilly Motorsports Park, Rusty Mitchell was looking forward to the debut oval race of the 2010 Star Mazda presented by Goodyear season as the series visited Indianapolis for the "Night Before the 500" as part of the Memorial Day weekend.
Driving the Motorola Mazda campaigned by Mitchell Motorsports, Mitchell's enthusiasm was well-placed, as he was in top-five form through the intense two-day weekend.
Driving on an oval, the traditional Star Mazda formats were altered for the weekend, with the race not only being extended by twenty-five laps to a 125 lap race distance, but the qualifying procedure also saw the cars take to the track one at a time to set the grid.
After not getting exactly the start to the weekend that he had been hoping for during the promoter test day, Mitchell and his Motorola crew continued to work on the car, and the two practice sessions showed the improvement as Mitchell's best time improved to 20.791-seconds as he went on to take fifth on the grid for the extended race.
Mitchell knows all about the hectic starts in Star Mazda competition, and used his experience to make sure he was there at the end of the first lap, while still fighting for position early on. Converting fourth into fifth early in the going proved to be key, as just one yellow flag punctuated the running. And with several cars turning similarly fast laps, position changes were few and far between as Mitchell crossed the line fourth at the finish.
"That was a long race!" said Mitchell, who also took in all the action at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 500. "The car was pretty good, but once we got going, the times were so close that you really couldn't safely make a move. We had that long run of green flag laps, and at one point, I was starting to wonder exactly how long we had been out there! I wanted to be careful at the start but you also know that its going to be the best chance to make something happen."
Mitchell's result matched his previous career-best oval finish, set last year (his best race result is 2nd, scored after a dominating pole performance at Trois Rivieres in 2009).
The week also marked another new move forward for the "Road to Indy" program, which aims to facilitate moving young talent like Mitchell up the racing ladder. Now that the ladder has been officially recognized, there is more and more effort being put into the promotion and preparation of the racers of tomorrow. That was evident in the week ahead of the Indianapolis 500, as Mitchell and his fellow Star Mazda drivers were involved with autograph sessions, seminars, and meetings with several key people along the ladder to help prepare them to work on the things that are important-besides fast lap times--to help move up to the IndyCar ranks.
"It was a good week, spending all that time at the Speedway, getting to race on Saturday night, and then catching the 500 for the first time, it was a really good week and now I'm looking forward to Iowa. We were strong there last year and I'm hoping that we can have another good weekend out there with the Motorola Mazda."
The Star Mazda machines will remain in oval-trim for the next outing, as the series returns to Iowa Speedway in Newton for round five. Mitchell scored fourth on the midwest oval last year, and will look to go even better next time out.
The ORP round boosted Mitchell to eighth in the overall championship standings, with nine rounds of racing yet to go.