Velocity Motorsports Races to the Front at Sebring Prospect Hill, N.C.- The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear season opener in Sebring, Florida, was a welcome sight to the entire Velocity Motorsports team. After a ...
Velocity Motorsports Races to the Front at Sebring
Prospect Hill, N.C.- The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear season opener in Sebring, Florida, was a welcome sight to the entire Velocity Motorsports team. After a winter of testing in the cold and rain and having several drivers race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, it was time for the Mazdas to light up the track. John Pew, North Palm Beach, FL, and Mark Patterson, Bronxville, NY, are returning to the team this season as Pew looks to defend his 2005 Masters Series Championship. Joining the team for the 2006 season is 17 year old karting stand out, Logan Gomez, Crown Pointe, IN.
The team opened the race weekend with a promoter test session that saw Gomez post a fifth fastest time in one session. Patterson, out of the box from driving a Daytona Prototype, saw the top ten in time in two of the three sessions. All of the drivers set quick times placing them in the second (fast) qualifying group. Unfortunately, the 22 minute qualifying session was cut short due to an early red flag for an accident. This left the drivers with only seven minutes to qualify, just enough time for two or three hot laps. The team would see their drivers starting the race mid pack with Gomez in 15th, Pew in 17th and Patterson in 22nd.
John Pew, Driver #15
"Great practice with the team! It was unfortunate that we got caught in qualifying with a red flag situation which hurt our qualifying times. The race was good and the season is looking good for the entire Velocity team this year. It will be fantastic as both the team and I have improved over last season. Karting with Ozz has really helped me this year. I look forward to a really good year in my NVG Residential sponsored car."
Logan Gomez, Driver #23
"Pretty good practice sessions as we reached the top five in lap times. We got cut short in qualifying and that affected our times. The grid should make for an interesting race. We would have liked to start up front but we look to give the fans a good show."
Ken Erb, Team Principal
"While we began the week with quite a bit of hope for our newest "young gun" driver, Logan Gomez, it was Mark Patterson who put the first stake in the ground by running an incredible 1:59.938 during the first official practice session. I guess all that time he has been co-driving with Ozz has really been paying off. The next day's session brought out the best time in our remaining two drivers as Logan Gomez bested Mark's earlier with a time of 1:59.783. John turned in a lap of 2:00.549. It marked the first time that all three Velocity Motorsports drivers would earn their way into the faster qualifying group."
When the field took the green flag, the huge Sebring crowd was anxious to view what would happen at turn one. With over 35 screaming Formula-Mazdas going five-wide into what would be a two-wide corner, there was bound to be trouble and there was. However, the Velocity drivers used the first lap to gain ground on their competitors. Gomez would climb into seventh place, Pew would get into ninth place and Patterson would gain three positions. Pew would march to an incredible fifth place during the race with Gomez right on his rear wing. The two would swap positions during the final laps. The final outcome would see Gomez finish with a Velocity Motorsports best pro finish of sixth position. Pew would take 12th overall and first in the Masters Series with Patterson finishing in 15th position.
Logan Gomez, Driver #23
"The race was pretty good aside from all of the yellow flags. I believe we would have finished better than sixth place with more green flag laps. My first rolling start in a pro race was pretty good. I played it safe to the inside and passed many cars. I look forward to the next event in Houston and also to testing the car more in the coming weeks. I would like to thank my teammates and the entire Velocity Motorsports team for welcoming me to the team. I would also like to thank Helix In-Car Cameras, Stand 21 and the BMS Group for their support this weekend."
Mark Patterson, Driver #60
"Great race with Velocity! It was a short race due to some bad hits that brought out cautions. These cars were beautifully set up. Ken runs a good team and we were able to run some good lap times. With a proper qualifying session, we could have had a real good race here. I wish the team all the best as I will miss the next couple of races due to prior racing commitments in the Rolex Series."
Ian Macpherson, Team Engineer
"I'm really proud of the job our drivers did this weekend. Logan Gomez did an outstanding job finishing sixth after starting 15th in his first pro- Mazda race. It was actually his first ever car race outside of Skip Barber. He is going to keep the more experienced guys on their toes all season and I expect him to win more than one. John Pew was flat-out amazing today! From 17th on the grid, to running sixth only several laps from the end, incredible! If not for backing off briefly with what was thought to be a flat tire, he might have been in the top five. Mark Patterson got punished by the qualifying "lottery" more than the others on our team. He was mired in traffic early from his 22nd starting spot and never really reached his stride in the race. He did lay down one of the fastest race laps in the field, clearly showing improved pace and consistency."
Oswaldo Negri, Jr., Driver Coach
"The guys ran fast times in practice, running up front. However, qualifying was one of those racing deals where instead of getting 22 minutes we got two hot laps. The race turned out to be awesome! My man (John Pew) did a fantastic job! Mark came from the back doing what he needed to do. Logan did a great job in his first race for the team."
Ken Erb, Team Principal
"I am really proud of the way all three of our drivers overcame somewhat disappointing qualifying results. I was impressed to see John in the top ten for several laps as well as his 12th place finish. Logan impressed me with the way he was able to back off just enough after picking up tire debris until they (the tires) eventually came back in. He was able to take back two positions on the last two laps of the race. The crew did an amazing job all weekend. We had great setups on the cars, did two motor swaps and did not have the slightest mechanical hiccup all week long. What is really special is that this was the first event for six new crew members. That says a lot about them, as well as the core group."
The team will return to the Raleigh, North Carolina area to prep the cars for testing prior to the next race on the streets of Houston, Sunday May 14th. The Sebring race will air on the SPEED Channel on Sunday, April 9th , at 4pm Eastern. For more team information visit, www.velocitymotorsports.com.