FIRST TIME STAR MAZDA RACER RICHARD KENT WINS RACE, AMERICAN JOHN EDWARDS WINS CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2008 STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES FINALE Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca / Oct. 18 -- It was a thing of both myth and legend, a race that saw the...
FIRST TIME STAR MAZDA RACER RICHARD KENT WINS RACE, AMERICAN JOHN EDWARDS WINS CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2008 STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES FINALE
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca / Oct. 18 -- It was a thing of both myth and legend, a race that saw the mysterious stranger come out of nowhere and win from the pole in his first ever time in the car or on the track... but the deserving, hard-working, charming young American who put together a spectacular season goes on to win the championship and the huge, coveted prize that goes with it.
Richard Kent, an English karting champion with a background in the European Formula Palmer Audi series and a few Formula Renault U.K. races earlier this season, put the #77 Andersen Racing / Traka / Allied Building Supplies Mazda on pole during a gloomy, cold morning qualifying session. In the warmth of the afternoon, he started in the lead, held it throughout and crossed the finish line 2.171 seconds ahead of John Edwards in the #7 AIM Autosport/ Mobil1 Mazda. Edwards, however, with four wins under his belt already, started the race having only to score a podium finish to win the championship, and for the personable young racer, it was 'mission accomplished.'
Of the other two contenders who still had a shot at the championship when the race started, Irishman Peter Dempsey put together a brilliant season with four wins in the #21 Andersen Racing/LotusWorks/ Center Jewellers.ie/Quayside.ie/ Allied Building Products Mazda. He finished 3rd in the race and third in the championship. Joel Miller, the 2007 Skip Barber Pro Series champion who won his ride in the #20 JDC Motorsports/K&N Air Filters Mazda via the MAZDASPEED Motorsports ladder scholarship, finished 4th in the race and second in the championship. His season included a win from the pole in the season-opener at Sebring
Also on the podium were Expert Series (drivers 30 to 44) winner Phil Fogg, Jr., driving the #29 Northwest Autosport / Consonus Health Services Mazda and Master Series (drivers 45 and older) winner -- and 2008 Master Series Champion -- Chuck Hulse who has compiled a record of eight class wins in the #12 JDC Motorsports/Silicon Salvage Mazda.
"I came into this season with idea of winning the championship and with it the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder scholarship that would let me go back up to racing in the Atlantic Championship in 2009, and obviously we accomplished that," said Edwards, who missed the first race of the season and won from the pole in his Star Mazda debut in Round 2 at Miller Motorsports Park. "I was the youngest driver ever in Atlantic last year and didn't achieve [IMAGE]the results I wanted, but I learned a lot in the Star Mazda Championship that will make me a stronger Atlantic competitor next year. It's been a tough, competitive season full of wheel-banging and off-course excursions and races won by both skill and luck. I'm delighted to win the Star Mazda championship and the MAZDASPEED scholarship at Mazda Raceway; it seems right, somehow."
Kent's plans for the 2008 season had nothing to do with Star Mazda, or even racing in America, for that matter. He was set to run Formula Renault in the U.K., but when the deal fell apart after the first race, he and his management started looking around for opportunities in U.S. series. Kent tested with the Andersen Racing team and was supposed to make his race debut at Mosport but was sidelined by mechanical troubles that kept him from qualifying or making the race.J "So this weekend was kind of a make-up race for Mosport, and it certainly worked out well for me," said Kent. "I wasn't feeling very positive after Mosport, but the Andersen Racing team has done a fantastic job for me this weekend. The car was brilliant in every session, everything went like clockwork and we won the race fairly easily. I have to say that the impression that young European drivers have that they're side-tracking their careers if they go race in America is completely wrong. This whole series, this weekend is a tremendous, highly-professional show and the competition among the top-6 Star Mazda drivers was very high caliber. I'm very happy with my time here and will be considering some new and different options for 2009."
Rounding out the top-5 finishers in the race were Louisiana racer Alex Ardoin (who won this race last year), driving the #51 Mundill Racing / Oral & Facial Surgery Center / Twister Trailer Mazda and Brazilian Ciao Lara, who finished off his season with a pair of 5th-place finishes in the #19 Mundill Racing Mazda. Edwards finished with 422 points, Miller with 406, Dempsey with 398, Ardoin with 365 and Charles Hall, who did not compete this weekend was 5th with 342 points. 5th-place finisher in the race, Caio Lara, finished 8th in the championship with 286 points.