Road Atlanta: Series Wednesday report

ITS ANOTHER TALE OF TWO CON(N)ORS IN STAR MAZDA PRACTICE AT ROAD ATLANTA -- CONOR DALY QUICK IN THE MORNING, CONNOR DE PHILLIPPI QUICK IN THE AFTERNOON Road Atlanta / Sept. 29, 2010 -- As has periodically been their practice over the last ...

ITS ANOTHER TALE OF TWO CON(N)ORS IN STAR MAZDA PRACTICE AT ROAD ATLANTA -- CONOR DALY QUICK IN THE MORNING, CONNOR DE PHILLIPPI QUICK IN THE AFTERNOON

Road Atlanta / Sept. 29, 2010 -- As has periodically been their practice over the last couple of races, the two Con(n)ors in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear have been trading fast laps in practice. In this morning's first official practice session for the season-finale Round 13 during the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, Conor Daly -- who has already clinched the 2010 series championship -- set the quick time with a lap of 1:19.230 (115.411 mph) in his #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. Mazda. Connor De Phillippi was second quick in the #11 JDC Motorsports / MAZDASPEED Motorsports / Skip Barber Mazda with a lap of 1:19.310 (115.294 mph).

They reversed their order during the afternoon session which, though cloudy and cooler -- which usually makes for quicker laps -- was actually a touch slower; De Phillippi went 1:19.630 (114.831 mph) while Daly came second with a 1:19.844 (114.523 mph).

While Daly clinched the championship with a win from the pole in Round 12 at Mosport, one of seven wins and nine poles so far this season, De Phillippi, the 2009 Skip Barber Pro Series champion and winner of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder sponsorship that is paying for his Star Mazda drive this season, is the leading contender for 'Rookie of the Year' honors and would love nothing more than to finish out the season with his first Star Mazda win.

The surprise of the week so far has been an Argentine dark horse named Martin Scuncio, a regular in the USF2000 National Championship who is making his first-ever Star Mazda Championship start this weekend. He set the third-quick time in both sessions driving the #60 Juncos Racing / Fuerza Chile Mazda; 1:19.670 (114.773 mph) in the morning and 1:19.913 (114.424 mph) in the afternoon. If he races as well as he practices, he may well turn out to be the spoiler in Andersen Racing's plans to win the Team Championship. Andersen leads the battle, but the scenarios are many and a 1-2 or even a 1-3 by the Daly/Scuncio duo would go a long way toward securing both the series and team championships for the freshman Juncos Racing squad. That said, Andersen Racing driver Tristan Vautier, the Frenchman who has won two races so far this season was 4th-quick in both sessions driving his #38 Andersen Racing / Moulin TP / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais / Fontanel Mazda; 1:19.963 (114.353 mph) in the morning and 1:20.323 (113.842 mph) in the afternoon.

You don't start getting any real movement on the time sheets until you get down to 5th place, which in the morning was taken by Juncos Racing driver Tatiana Calderon with a lap of 1:20.102 (114.154 mph) in the #25 Juncos Racing / JAC Motors Mazda. But in the afternoon, it was another member of the Andersen Racing squad, Nick Andries, who took the 5th spot with a 1:20.575 (113.484 mph).

It's hard to know what to make of all this quite so early in the game; in both sessions, one second covered the first seven cars, and everyone still has some distance to go to even approach the Star Mazda Championship lap record at Road Atlanta, a 1:18.328, set last year by Juncos Racing driver Peter Dempsey.... who, by the way, won nine races in two seasons of Star Mazda racing -- including this race, from the pole, last year -- and is making his debut in this weekend's ALMS race driving a Radical LMP2 for Libra Racing.

Larry Pegram, one of the top Superbike racers in the country who is making his third start as a Star Mazda racer in the Expert (drivers aged 30-44) Series this weekend, was the quickest Expert in the morning session with a lap of 1:23.087 (110.053 mph) in the #72 AIM Autosport / Tampa Bay Jaw Surgery / Foremost Insurance Mazda. He was bested in the afternoon by Texan J.W. Roberts, who has already clinched the Expert Series championship with an in-class win in Round 10 at Trois-Rivieres; Roberts turned a 1:22.043 (111.454 mph) in his #65 Team GDT / General Data Tech Mazda.

In the Master Series (drivers 45 and older), the quick time in both sessions was turned by West Palm Beach racer Dom Bastien, the CEO of Specialty Brands of America. He turned laps of 1:22.872 (110.339 mph) in the morning and 1:23.198 (109.906 mph) in his #37 Andersen Racing Mazda.

-source: star mazda

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Larry Pegram , Skip Barber , Tristan Vautier , Conor Daly , Tatiana Calderon , Dom Bastien , Martin Scuncio , Nick Andries
Teams Juncos Racing