Nick Andries: a weekend of highs and lows at St. Pete
Clearwater, Fla., March 29 – A strong qualifying effort and a strong team result are helping to lessen the sting of an early exit from Team Pelfrey driver Nick Andries’ home race this past weekend during the opening round of the 2011 Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear, held at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
After posting top six times in each of the weekend’s two practice sessions, Andries (Team Pelfrey / Lithionics Battery / GS610 Brake Fluid / Trademark Garage Floors) got off to a strong start in Qualifying as he and team mate Connor De Phillippi posted the top two times early in their runs.
“We went out on sticker tires with the goal of putting in a quick time as early as possible”, noted an excited Andries after the session. “Red flags are common on street courses and we didn’t want to be caught out.”
The predicted red flag came out for an incident involving J.V. Horto, leaving Andries and his team with an important decision to make.
“We almost didn’t go back out”, explained Andries. “By that time we had run five laps on our tires and thought their best laps were behind them. I discussed it with Geoff (team engineer Geoff Fickling) and decided to give it a try.”
After cruising around for a couple laps, Andries went for it and on his last lap of the session clocked in a 1:10.974, which was good enough for pole until Martin Scuncio squeaked in a 1:10.921 at the very end of the session to take his first career Star Mazda pole. Andries settled for second followed by De Phillippi, who finished with a 1:11.238 lap, good enough for third on the grid.
At the start Andries and Scuncio ran side by side down the front straight, with the Chilean driver gaining a slight advantage on the inside into the right-hand Turn 1. This put Andries on the inside line for left-hand Turn 2, where while avoiding contact with the leader he hit the temporary curbing, broke his right front suspension and ended up in the wall on the outside of the corner .
“It was just a racing deal”, recounted a disappointed Andries. “We were both going for the same piece of real estate and rather than run into Martin I tried to thread the needle and ended up getting into the wall.”
When racing resumed, De Phillippi got the jump and took the lead from Scuncio, never looked back and cruised to a comfortable win, his second and the first for Team Pelfrey in its first Star Mazda event. Despite the disappointment, Andries focused on the positives of the weekend and looks ahead to getting back in the car in two weeks.
“The team gave me a really strong car at St. Pete. Connor’s win shows that Team Pelfrey is competitive. We were on pace all weekend and we’re now heading to Barber Motorsports Park where we had a productive test a couple weeks ago. I can’t wait.”
Next up: Nick Andries and the drivers of the Star Mazda Championship head back to Birmingham, Ala. and Barber Motorsports Park for Round 2 of the 2011 season April 7-10.
- source: nick andries PR