Road Atlanta: Andersen Racing qualifying notes

Andersen Racing's Dempsey Sets New Track Record in Winning Star Mazda Pole Thursday at Road Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 2 - With eight family members and friends from Ireland on hand to cheer him on, Andersen Racing's Peter Dempsey set a new ...

Andersen Racing's Dempsey Sets New Track Record in Winning Star Mazda Pole Thursday at Road Atlanta

BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 2 - With eight family members and friends from Ireland on hand to cheer him on, Andersen Racing's Peter Dempsey set a new track record Thursday morning at Road Atlanta in winning the pole for Friday's Round 11 of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear.

Dempsey's second pole of the season was worth one more point for him in the championship. With four victories he leads the current driver and Rookie of the Year standings, while his Palmetto, Fla.-based team has already clinched the team championship.

His new record is a 1:18.328 (116.740 miles per hour) for the 2.540-mile road course, breaking Scott Jenkins' 1:18.640 set in 2005.

Dempsey, of Ashbourne, County Meath, Ireland, will lead a field of 22 at the standing start at 4:30 p.m. Friday in his No. 21, which is sponsored by Quayside.ie, LotusWorks, Center Jewellers.ie, Motorsport Ireland, Allied Interior Products and Trojan Complete IT Solutions. The race supports Saturday's Petit Le Mans Powered by the Totally New Mazda 6, one of the premier events in the American Le Mans Series.

Three other Andersen Racing drivers will start a little further back: Valle Makela of Laitila, Finland will start fifth; Tom Gladdis of the Isle of Wight and Gibraltar qualified seventh; and Charles Hall of Sheffield, England will start eighth.

Makela, who is sponsored by Amitec and Allied Building Products, spun in qualifying and didn't get to do many laps in the session. Gladdis's Marrache & Co. No. 5 suffered a cracked bell housing and damage to both left-side corners when it impacted a tire barrier in Turn 6. Despite an engine change Hall is still searching for more speed out of his No. 77, which carries the colors of Blimpie, AccentBanking.com, Pardoes Solicitors and Allied Interior Products.

Star Mazda races are televised on SPEED. This Sunday at 2 p.m. the Sept. 13 race at New Jersey Motorsports Park is slated to air, while Dempsey's victory at the same track on Sept. 14 is scheduled to be broadcast at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 12. Friday's Road Atlanta race is scheduled to air at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18. The driver championship will come down to the season finale Oct. 18 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Laguna Seca's TV time slot is 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8. All times are Eastern and subject to change; please see speedtv.com for updates.

Andersen Racing is sponsored by Allied Building Products Corp. In addition to being the top Star Mazda team in 2008, it also won the 2008 F2000 Championship and finished sixth in the Firestone Indy Lights series. It is the official development team of Rahal Letterman Racing. For more information see andersenracingteam.com, andersenracepark.com and starmazda.com.

Post-qualifying quotes follow:

Peter Dempsey: "My fastest lap was lap 12. I did a 1:18.39 before that and I knew there was more left in the car, so then I did a 1:18.32, which was three-tenths faster than the track record. There's still more there too, but I had the pole and the new record so I didn't want to take any chances. The car was perfect, and hopefully it'll continue to be perfect for the race.

"I want to thank Quayside.ie, LotusWorks, Center Jewellers.ie, Motorsport Ireland, Allied Interior Products, Trojan Complete IT Solutions and of course the team, Mazda and Goodyear.

"I also want to thank my family and friends for coming. This is my mom's first time at one of my races this year, and it's great to be able to put on a good show."

Valle Makela: "Qualifying wasn't too good for me. I don't know why; maybe I was trying to push too hard. I had a little bit of understeer in Turn 5; that was probably the main problem. Then I spun in Turn 3; there was a yellow for oil on the track but I wanted to do a good time on that lap so I chanced it, and I spun and the front wing hit the wall. I ended up only doing a few laps in the session because of that. But I think I'll have a good car for the race."

Tom Gladdis: "It happened in Turn 6. I got loose on entry. I got on the grass, and the grass was wet, and it put me into a tire barrier. The car isn't too bad. It's a shame because I had a lot more to get out of the car. So I'm disappointed, but the team will work hard to get it fixed."

Charles Hall: "I'm very disappointed we didn't do better. The car feels good and I'm able to do consistent laps. We put in a new engine. The car is easy to drive; it's just not quick. We're all trying to figure out what the problem is, but right now we just don't know."

-credit: ar

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About this article
Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Charles Hall , Valle Makela , Tom Gladdis , Peter Dempsey