McDowell Wins Hometown Race at Phoenix International Raceway October 2, 2004- Phoenix, Arizona - Michael McDowell thrilled his hometown fans with his seventh victory of the season this afternoon at Phoenix International Raceway in Round Nine...
McDowell Wins Hometown Race at Phoenix International Raceway
October 2, 2004- Phoenix, Arizona - Michael McDowell thrilled his hometown fans with his seventh victory of the season this afternoon at Phoenix International Raceway in Round Nine of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship. As usual McDowell was fastest in every session, and started the race from the pole position. Piloting the Drive4USA/Sparco/Star Race Cars Mazda, he took control from the outset of the event, leading every lap and building up an almost seven second gap on the second place finisher to build on his championship lead with one race remaining. "It feels great to win out here in front of my family and friends," said the lifelong Phoenix native. "The crew at Star Race Cars gave me a car that was setup for longer runs and as the fuel load lightened the car kept getting better."
While McDowell was able to create a gap at the finish, he had his hands full early in the race as Scott Jenkins sought to find his way past. "I was able to get some good runs on Michael as we first came upon lapped traffic and I really thought I was going to be able to use that traffic to claim victory today," Jenkins related afterwards.
The 75 lap race was broken up by two caution periods. The first yellow flag flew from lap 27 to lap 32 for an incident between Steve Cook and Raphael Matos in turn two. The second caution period came seven laps later and would last until lap 53 when Ross Smith backed into the wall in turn four of the one-mile oval. Moses Smith, a resident of Chandler, Arizona, would have his race ended as well in the incident when debris from Ross Smith's car would cause a puncture of his right front tire, sending him into the wall on the front straight.
With nine races complete, McDowell now holds a 23-point lead over his teammate Dan DiLeo heading into the final race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 14 - 16. Jenkins also remains in the championship hunt though he sits 36 points out of the lead with a maximum of 45 points available in the final race. Though he has a comfortable lead, McDowell plans to go all out. "At this point in my career wins are more important than championships," McDowell said. "As a young driver looking to move up it is important to make a strong impression on the team owners in major series, and nothing does that better than winning races."
Round Nine of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship will be aired on Speed Channel on October 17, 2004 at 2:00 PM EST.