Sebring: Casey Neal race notes

CASEY NEAL'S STAR MAZDA SEBRING DEBUT Sebring, FL: Casey Neal's debut in Star Mazda was a quick one, in more ways than one. The 2005 Red Bull Driver Search World Finalist showed why he has attracted so much attention in such a short period of...

CASEY NEAL'S STAR MAZDA SEBRING DEBUT

Sebring, FL: Casey Neal's debut in Star Mazda was a quick one, in more ways than one. The 2005 Red Bull Driver Search World Finalist showed why he has attracted so much attention in such a short period of time with an impressive, albeit short, showing at Sebring International Raceway at the opening round of the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear race on March 17. Neal qualified 4th on the starting grid with a time of 2:01.377 while his second fastest lap was 2:01.467, a faster 2nd best lap time than those posted by the top 3 drivers on the grid. In fact, Neal's 2nd fastest lap was the fastest of all 2nd fastest laps, showing a consistency in speed that was sure to help him in the race.

But at the green flag, Neal fell victim to a first turn incident that sent him off the track and out of the race. Neal took the green flag in his Drive4USA/Elf Racing Lubricants sponsored John Walko Racing entry with a strong start and was attempting to pass polesitter Brad Jaeger, when he hit the rev-limiter and decided to tuck in behind Jaeger entering turn one. At this juncture, another competitor touched wheels with Neal damaging Neal's right-front suspension and disabling the steering resulting in Neal going off the track at turn one and ending his race early.

"It was a major disappointment," said Neal. "The car was superb and I was really looking forward to a competitive race. The team that John Walko put together was superb. Walko's crew provided me with a car that was flawless and both engineer Bruce Croker and mechanic (2005 Star Mazda Mechanic-of-the-Year) Caleb Stream helped me immensely in my transition to Star Mazda racing. I was sorely disappointed to sit on the pit wall in my debut race of the Star Mazda Series."

Neal has caught the attention of numerous veteran industry sponsors of up-and-coming driver talent. Most notably, he was one to two Americans selected as 2005 Red Bull Driver's Search World Finalists. Then, at Sebring, the veteran driver development initiative, Drive4USA added their support of Neal. It marks the first time that both the Red Bull Driver Search Finalists and the Drive4USA Driver Development initiative have added their support for the same driver. In addition, Elf Racing Lubricants, with their strong history of support for up-and-coming drivers are long-time sponsors of Neal. Elf Lubricant's Laurent Siret first noticed Neal's talent as a sponsor of Casey Neal during his impressive karting career.

Casey Neal will next compete at the Houston round of the Star Mazda Series on May 13-14 as part of the Champ Car Series event schedule.

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Casey Neal , Brad Jaeger