Laguna Seca: Velocity Motorsports race notes

Velocity Motorsports closes out a successful 2006 Season Prospect Hill, N.C. - After Logan's excellent drive in Road Atlanta where he made an incredible run all the way from 16th place to eventually finish in 4th the team's expectations were high...

Velocity Motorsports closes out a successful 2006 Season Prospect Hill, N.C. - After Logan's excellent drive in Road Atlanta where he made an incredible run all the way from 16th place to eventually finish in 4th the team's expectations were high heading into the race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. John Pew's unfortunate shoulder injury would keep him out of the season finale and Mark Patterson's busy schedule would leave the team running just one car.

The weekend got off to a rough start when during the first practice session there was smoke coming from the back half of Logan's car causing us to prematurely end the session. Apparently the motor that we re-installed after it was impounded from the Road Atlanta race had an oil leak. Unfortunately it was not really apparent where the oil was leaking from so we tightened all the fittings, tested it in the paddock and sent Logan out for the second test session only to have the same problem which again ended his session earlier than it should have. Not taking any chances, John Pew allowed us to use his idle car for the last test session of the day which gave Logan a full session to try to settle into a rhythm in this unfamiliar and very challenging circuit. Despite driving a somewhat unfamiliar car on a track Logan had never been to, he was able to run a respectable 1:22.747 which was tenth quickest of the day. The times, however, were much closer than usual so a five tenths improvement would move Logan up some four or five places.

The crew had to take the unfortunate step of removing the engine to locate the mysterious oil leak. As it turned out all the fittings and connections were fine. The source of the leak was the front cover which must have had a slight impact just strong enough to break the seal. Not taking any chances lead mechanic, Russ Gaglio, and Tim Jennings completely removed the front cover as well as the oil pan, thoroughly cleaned all the surfaces, re- sealed and reinstalled both the oil pan and front cover prior to reinstalling the engine. Not wanting to miss any more valuable track time, the team thoroughly tested the motor as well as set up Logan's car and John Pew's car just in case.

After a late night, the team arrived for the early morning session with a great deal of confidence. Logan was able to improve his lap time significantly. However, so did the rest of the field. His quick time of 1:22.101 would be the 9th quickest time of the day and again the field was very close. A five tenths improvement would have moved Logan all the way up to P2 but it was good to have the oil leak issue resolved and behind us.

In qualifying Logan knocked off another second for a quickest time of 1:21.253 and, like the previous sessions, much of the field also made improvements which left Logan to start the race from P9. The race much like the way last year's race was marred by several accidents which unfortunately resulted in only 5 green laps. Logan at one point had worked his way up to 6th place and scored another top ten finish in P9.

All in all, I think it was a successful year for Velocity Motorsports and Logan Gomez. He had eight top ten finishes, three top five's, and consistently ran up front beginning at Miller Motorsports Park, a race in which he might have finished on the podium if not won. At Road America we also had a podium in hand and possibly a win but could not pull off the last lap pass. At Trios Rivieres Logan set a new track record. At Road Atlanta, where Logan had the drive of the race by charging all the way up to 4th place from his 16th place starting position, there was another event where if we had some more green laps, who knows. I guess many of our competitors could say the same thing. I am extremely proud of Logan's accomplishments finishing in 7th place in the championship just 6 points back from 5th place. On the way, he picked up the most improved driver award, so it is clear that other people in the paddock also recognized his growth.

For John Pew it was a disappointing season. Early into the year his shoulder bothered him and I am certain that his huge crash at Montreal definitely did not help. As the season wore on so did his shoulder which eventually needed to be surgically repaired. His quest to repeat as the Masters Champion would unfortunately not be realized. While John has only been driving for the last few years, his behavior in and out of the race car is truly professional. Many of the younger drivers in the series could learn quite a bit about how to prepare and think from him. There have been times during the season when his car was not the best. However, John always did the best he could. When his car was good, he was as quick as some of the young guns in the series.

Mark Patterson, whom our chance meeting enabled me and Velocity Motorsports to put forth a proper effort in the Star Mazda Series, ran an abbreviated season this year because of his desire to compete at an even higher level with driver coach/co-driver Oswaldo Negri in a Daytona Prototype. Even though he didn't participate in our pre-season and between race testing program, Mark always amazed us jumping in and laying down quick competitive laps right out of the box. He had some unfortunate luck, however, which was created by other competitors' overly aggressive driving and his race results were not a true representation of his abilities. While much of John's and Mark's success was a result of their individual efforts, I know that much of the credit should be shared with supreme driver and coach Oswaldo Negri. Ozz was also a big influence on the team as we continually raised the bar and built our program to what it is today.

The Velocity Motorsports team has returned to their North Carolina base to prepare for the 2007 season. Many exciting plans are in place for the team in the coming future.

-credit: www.velocitymotorsports.com

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Oswaldo Negri Jr. , John Pew , Mark Patterson , Logan Gomez