PRE-RACE PRACTICE FOR ROUNDS 6 & 7 OF THE 2010 STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP AT NEW JERSEY MOTORSPORTS PARK WRAP UP WITH CONOR DALY IN THE LEAD New Jersey Motorsports Park (June 25, 2010) -- On a day both cooler, if only a bit, and relatively free...
PRE-RACE PRACTICE FOR ROUNDS 6 & 7 OF THE 2010 STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP AT NEW JERSEY MOTORSPORTS PARK WRAP UP WITH CONOR DALY IN THE LEAD
New Jersey Motorsports Park (June 25, 2010) -- On a day both cooler, if only a bit, and relatively free of kinetic drama, it was the familiar green-and-white #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. Mazda of Conor Daly leading the time sheets in both morning and afternoon sessions. The quick times came in the morning session, with Daly turning a 1:15.204 (103.877 mph), an improvement of 7/10ths on his quick time from Thursday, but still shy of the official lap record of 1:14.744 set in qualifying for Race #2 last year by Englishman Richard Kent, who won from the pole. The track got slower in the afternoon, with Daly slipping to a 1:15.610 (103.320 mph); he was, however, the only car in the 15s in the afternoon, while the top-4 all came in under the 1:16 mark in the morning.
French racer Tristan Vautier led most of the afternoon session in his #38 Andersen Racing / Moulin TP / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda, until Daly pitted for new tires and promptly knocked a second off his lap time. Quick runners during the day included Norwegian driver Anders 'The Viking' Krohn with a 2nd-quick time of 1:15.700 (103.197 mph) in his #47 Andersen Racing / Norse Cutting & Abandonment / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda and Brazilian Joao Victor Horto, piloting the #18 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda to a 3rd-fast lap of 1:15.792 (103.072 mph). Rounding out the top-5 were Texan Rusty Mitchell with a 1:15.974 (102.825 mph) in his #66 Juncos Racing / Motorola / Petro Communications / HRP Racing Products / Texas Autosports Mazda and Quebec driver Mikael Grenier, just outside the 1:15 mark with a 1:16.164 (102.568 mph) in his #17 Andersen Racing / Slow Cow / April Super Flow / NAPA Auto Parts / HS Telecom / Desharnais Mazda.
Among the Expert Series (ages 30-44) drivers, Californian Patrick O'Neill stepped up his game with a 1:17.220 (101.166 mph) in his #64 JDC Motorsports / O'Neill Construction Mazda, a time good for 12th-fast overall. In the Master Series (45 and older), North Oaks, Minnesota racer Gerry Kraut was 16th-fast with a 1:17.906 (100.275 mph) in the #55 JDC Motorsports / Dougherty & Co. / Dougherty Funding LLC Mazda.
The tale of the race, both races actually, may well be told in qualifying. Both Saturday and Sunday are expected to be brutally hot and humid. Qualifying for both weekend races takes place in the morning, and the race takes place in the afternoon. And the New Jersey Motorsports Park track is, shall we say, not noted for its opportunities to overtake. The Star Mazda Championship races at NJMP last year were not a complete parade -- the gods of luck and machines will have their laughs -- but it is safe to say that, barring chance, the better you qualify, the better you finish. This could be said of any track, but it is something to consider when figuring the odds. Physical conditioning may well also play a part; even though Star Mazda Championship races are 'only' 45 minutes long, the drivers take a thorough beating during those minutes, and it's likely the strong -- and well-hydrated -- will prosper.