Laguna Seca season finale race summary

Schiavo victorious at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca; McDowell wins championship Saturday, October 16, 2004. Monterey, California. In a race won by outgoing series champion Luis Schiavo, Michael McDowell finished second and captured the 2004 Star...

Schiavo victorious at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca; McDowell wins championship

Saturday, October 16, 2004. Monterey, California. In a race won by outgoing series champion Luis Schiavo, Michael McDowell finished second and captured the 2004 Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear title. Finishing third overall in today's race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for his first podium of the season was Brian Frisselle.

"I made my debut with Star Race Cars here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2002 so to come back here and clinch the first championship in the new Pro Formula Mazda is incredible," McDowell exclaimed. "I have to give the credit to the Star Race Cars crew and especially to Mark Rodrigues who has been giving young drivers the opportunity to race. With this being the last season for a factory team I'm proud that I could give him a championship."

While McDowell had an outstanding season, recording six pole positions and seven victories in his Drive4USA/Sparco/Star Race Cars Mazda, today belonged to Schiavo in his Energy Freight/Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda. Schiavo would line up third on the grid behind McDowell and championship contender Scott Jenkins but would work his way into second on the opening lap. After a brief caution period, Schiavo set his sights on McDowell and by lap 12 of the 28-lap event he had reeled him in, taking over the lead with a daring inside move going into turn two. "It has been a challenging season," the Caracas, Venezuela native said, adding "the team has worked hard all year and we've had some bad luck but the car was working great today and I wanted this victory."

McDowell realized Schiavo was on a mission to get to the front and complimented Schiavo on his drive. "I knew Luis would be charging hard today and he drove a tremendous race. He closed up on me pretty quick and I started driving defensively but decided that holding him off for fifteen laps would cause me to make silly risks with the championship on the line so I gave him room to get through. I tried to keep up with him for the next five laps but he was hooked up today."

Capturing his first podium of the season was Frisselle, who has ended his season on a high note after a challenging year. "We felt that we would be up on the podium more often," the nineteen-year old driver of the Ventura Travel Service/G&W Motorsports Mazda admitted. "Unfortunately Michael and I made contact out front at Sebring and I've been sidelined in a couple of other races by accidents so it is great to wrap up the season with a podium."

While McDowell had the championship lead entering the event, the outcome was never certain until the checkered flag fell as his competitors for the crown, teammate Dan DiLeo and Team Bucknum driver Scott Jenkins kept the pressure on him by running up front as well, with Jenkins finishing fourth and DiLeo fifth. "We gave it our best but just didn't have enough for him today," Jenkins commented afterwards. "If either one of us was to have a shot at the title we need a mistake or a mechanical failure for Michael and that didn't happen."

In the final points tally McDowell came out on top with 384 points while DiLeo finished second with 355 and Jenkins third with 341 points. In the Expert Championship, for drivers aged 30-44, Nick Steele jumped up one spot to grab the championship away from Mike Anderson with 142 and 139 points respectively. In the Masters Championship it was Doug Peterson who claimed the title ahead of Jon Brownson with 177 points to Brownson's 143.

The 2005 Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear will kick off at Sebring International Raceway as part of the 12-hours of Sebring weekend on March 18. For more information please visit www.starmazda.com.

-starmazda-

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Series PRO-MAZDA