JDC MOTORSPORTS' STAR MAZDA DRIVERS BACK ON TOP AFTER PORTLAND Miller and Hulse lead respective championships with solid finishes at PIR MINNEAPOLIS, MN. (July 27, 2008) -- Showcasing why JDC MotorSports is the defending champions in the Star...
JDC MOTORSPORTS' STAR MAZDA DRIVERS BACK ON TOP AFTER PORTLAND
Miller and Hulse lead respective championships with solid finishes at PIR
MINNEAPOLIS, MN. (July 27, 2008) -- Showcasing why JDC MotorSports is the defending champions in the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear and widely regarded as one of the premier junior formula car teams in North America, the Minnesota-based team overcame adversity in race one of the Mazda Portland Grand Prix (July 26-27) to score another class to lead both the overall and Masters Series championship standings. Joel Miller posted mixed results of 22nd and third in the two races, retaking the championship lead in the process. Chuck Hulse continues to lead the Masters Series championship fight thanks to a third place finish and a win in Portland. Gerry Kraut remains just behind his teammate in the Masters standings with a second and third in Oregon, while Ernesto Otero finished among the top-10 for a third consecutive time via eighth and seventh place results in the two races.
After a lengthy break between events, the JDC MotorSports drivers returned to their cockpit eager to show their speed on the fast and flowing Portland International Raceway road course. Utilizing the two Thursday (July 24) test sessions and two Friday (July 25) practice sessions to work on set-ups and find the ideal racing line, all four drivers steadily got quicker with each passing lap. Entering the first qualifying session on Saturday morning (July 26), the JDC foursome were well placed to challenge for top honors, with Miller, Otero and Kraut having all cracked the top-10 during at least one session. While all four drivers showed good speed in the 45-minute run, the results were less than desired, with Miller qualifying seventh, Otero 10th, Kraut 18th and Hulse 23rd.
Come race time later in the day, the team and drivers were optimistic about their chances at success. Unfortunately, almost immediately upon the lights going green to get the action underway, Miller's chances at top result were ruined when he was unable to avoid an incident in front of him, damaging his No. 20 MAZDASPEED/K&N Air Filters/Sparco/Redline Oil/JDC MotorSports entry. As his teammates improved on their starting positions, Miller was forced to work his way back to pitlane for repairs. Miller re-joined the race at the rear of the field following some stellar work by the JDC crew. For Otero, in the No. 18 Brazilian Green Beef/Redline Oil/JDC MotorSports car, things were going much better as the Brazilian quickly cracked the top-10. Not far behind, Kraut, in the No. 55 Dougherty & Co./Dougherty Funding LLC/Redline Oil/JDC MotorSports, advanced several spots early on as well, running second among the Masters Series drivers. Meanwhile, Hulse was proving just as effective at working his way forward, slotting in behind his teammate, third in class. At the conclusion of the 34-lap race, Otero was eighth, Kraut 12th (second in class) and Hulse 13th (third in class). Miller fought back all race long to take 22nd in the final tally.
"I pleased with my results from today's race," stated Kraut. "My new race engineer Barry Mumm has had a big impact on my performance thus far and I'm look forward to the second race of the weekend."
Having shown the skills and racecraft to advance up the charts in the opening race of the doubleheader, the JDC quartet returned to PIR one day later focused on qualifying better for the afternoon feature race. When the checkered flag waved to end the morning qualifying session, the drivers had done just that, with Miller and Otero once again among the top-10, sixth and ninth respectively, while Hulse and Kraut qualified 17th and 20th.
Getting clean getaways from the standing start in Round Five, it was not long before all four of the JDC race pilots were advancing up the charts. Miller almost immediately joined the lead pack, eventually taking over third place. Otero was among those battling to break into the top-five, while Hulse took over the Masters lead just ahead of his teammate. When the checkered flag waved at the end of lap 36, Miller had scored his fourth podium finish of the season via a third place result, retaking the championship lead by five points. Crossing the stripe in seventh, Otero scored his third consecutive top-10 result, advancing him to 11th in the championship fight. Piloting the No. 12 Silicon Salvage/Redline Oil/JDC MotorSports entry, Hulse overcame a late-race spin to score his third Masters series win of the season, retaining the championship lead over Kraut, who was classified 28th at the finish.
"After Saturday's incident, I really wanted to reward the JDC team with a podium finish," commented Miller. "Consistency will win the championship, and this third place finish gives me and the team great momentum heading to Road America."
The JDC MotorSports Star Mazda Championship drivers next travel to Road America in Wisconsin, the team's home track, on August 9 for Round Six.