Round 5, Star Mazda Series North American Championship Calm And Collected, Rowen Races To Checker First SATURDAY, AUG. 18, 2001 -Mosport International Raceway - The winner of the fifth round of the Star Mazda Series agreed the 26-lap race, in ...
Round 5, Star Mazda Series North American Championship
Calm And Collected, Rowen Races To Checker First
SATURDAY, AUG. 18, 2001 -Mosport International Raceway - The winner of the fifth round of the Star Mazda Series agreed the 26-lap race, in relative terms anyway, ran smoothly, especially for him. "The weekend worked out pretty well for a change," said 22-year-old Oliver Rowen, who overcame a disappointing finish at Portland two weeks prior after a post-race technical infraction moved him from fourth to 39th in the official results. "My goal was to stay calm, run consistent laps and not push the car," said the Valley Motor Center driver.
After heading all three practice sessions, Rowen added his second pole of the season, lowering last year's Mosport pole time by 1.2sec. "We just worked on set-up and tried changes each session," said Rowen, whose previous best finish was a second at Sears Point in July.
Team Bucknum Racing's Scott Jenkins chased Rowen from the green to the checker, mounting several early and late-race challenges. At the line, Sears Point winner Jenkins came up just 1.631sec short. Rounding out the podium was new championship points leader Scott Bradley, of World Speed Motorsports. Battling a sticking throttle, Bradley held off Portland race winner Marc De Vellis, who set fastest race lap at Mosport (1:21.529) and currently leads the rookie-of-the-year points. In only his second Star Mazda Series race, World Speed's David Stover came from seventh on the grid to finish fifth.
All but one-SierraSierra's Moses Smith-of the 29 cars lined up behind the Mazda Miata pace car on Mosport's front straight fired for the start of the pace laps. Smith, unfortunately, was having trouble getting underway because of a stubborn fuel pump and lost his 10th-place starting position when he had to go to the rear of the pack. Despite more fuel pump problems in the race, Smith eventually finished 12th.
There was some position swapping on the start as the field headed into Turn One. Rowen, Jenkins and Bradley seemed to get good starts, but Chad Block lost three spots to De Vellis, Bret Arsenault and Stover after the first lap. The Valley Motor Center driver, who was tied with Bradley in the points battle coming into this race, did manage to regain fifth, just before the first and what would be the only full-course caution of the event. Unfortunately, Marc Cota-Robles had left a line of transmission oil between Turns Seven and Eight after losing a gearbox plug and race officials decided to gather the field so emergency crews could clear the racing surface.
Three laps later the race was back underway with the top five running intact for two laps. Stover, however, was working on Block while Bradley and De Vellis battled over third. "I got third from Scott on the back straight," said 19-year-old De Vellis. "But, Scott got a good run on the front straight and got me back." Bradley, meanwhile, was at a slight disadvantage as he was struggled with the sticking throttle situation. "Right after the restart, I almost went off in Turn Five," said Bradley, who thinks an "off" in qualifying may have lodged a rock somewhere in the throttle linkage. "I had to tap the throttle to make it turn and it was pegged at 5000rpm when I came in the pit lane, but Marc and I had a good race."
Busy trying to hold off De Vellis, Bradley couldn't mount a full challenge against Jenkins and leader Rowen. Jenkins, however, got the closest to the leader on lap 11, but Rowen successfully held off the threats. "My car was very consistent," said Jenkins. "As the race went on, I felt I could have caught up some more because I tried to break him (Rowen) down and stay in his mirrors."
The top 10 remained relatively unchanged until lap 23 when the ninth- and 10th-place drivers had contact in Turn Five. The encounter sidelined Arsenault, who was running ninth, but Michael Stephens was able to continue and eventually finished eighth.
Behind Rowen, Jenkins, Bradley, De Vellis, Stover and Block, Doug Peterson matched his best performance of the year with a seventh-place finish from 13th on the grid. "I was disappointed with qualifying because I think I could have done better," said the Lightspeed Motorsports driver. "Driving the line and staying consistent made the difference today." Peterson's teammate Tom Nastasi finished ninth with Racers Edge Motorsports' Luis Schiavo, of Caracas, Venezuela, rounding out the top 10.
The Speedvision telecast of the Mosport race, featuring commentator Greg Creamer and pit reporter Calvin Fish, will be shown Monday, Sept. 17, at 8 p.m. and then at midnight on Sept. 18, Eastern time. In the Pacific time zone, the race will be shown during prime time at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Sept. 17. Please check your local listings to confirm the dates, airtimes and any repeat broadcasts.
The next race is Sept. 8, at the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, in conjunction with the ALMS slate of races.