DE PHILLIPPI SECURES FIRST STAR MAZDA TOP-FIVE IN ST. PETE MAZADSPEED Motorsports Development driver now lies third in Rookie of the Year chase ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. (March 31, 2010) - Rising junior formula car racer Connor De Phillippi took...
DE PHILLIPPI SECURES FIRST STAR MAZDA TOP-FIVE IN ST. PETE
MAZADSPEED Motorsports Development driver now lies third in Rookie of the Year chase
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. (March 31, 2010) - Rising junior formula car racer Connor De Phillippi took another step towards a potential championship-winning season on Sunday (March 28), finishing a strong fifth in Round Two of the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. Showing continued confidence and speed behind the wheel of his MAZDASPEED Motorsports-backed JDC MotorSports entry, the Californian earned his first series top-five in only his second start, advancing to third in the Rookie of the Year standings and seventh overall.
De Phillippi, having enjoyed a successful Star Mazda debut - finishing seventh - at Sebring International less than one week ago, was excited to get back behind the wheel for Round Two on the streets of St. Petersburg. While the ultimate goal of the opening two practice sessions on Friday (March 26) was to learn the 1.8-mile street circuit and determine the best setup for qualifying and the race, the talented 17 year-old wasted little time posting times among the lead pack. When day one had ended, De Phillippi had posted the sixth quickest time in the morning session and ninth fastest time after lunch.
Given the results from the opening two sessions, De Phillippi returned to the cockpit of his No. 11 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Justice Brothers/Sparco/Rock View Farms/Oakley/Power Balance/Redline Athletics/Red Line Oil JDC MotorSports entry on Saturday confident he could challenge for a row one or row two starting position in the lone qualifying session. While De Phillippi was able to post some quick laps early on, he never got the chance to put in the true flyer he desired, as the session ended prematurely due to a significant crash involving one of his JDC MotorSports teammates. Despite the session being shortened, De Phillippi only narrowly missed reaching his goal, posting the sixth quickest time for a row three starting position.
Lining up for the traditional standing start on Sunday morning (March 28) under overcast skies, De Phillippi was well aware that a key to a good result would be getting a clean launch and avoiding any incidents in the often treacherous first corner. The 2009 Skip Barber National champion did just that, entering and exiting turn one only a few car lengths behind the race leader. While two subsequent early race full-course cautions set the stage for further drama, De Phillippi showed the skill of a potential champion, avoiding any problems on the ensuing re-starts, as he slotted into the top-five. Battling more experienced drivers for position throughout the 33-lap race, he never relinquished his top-five position. De Phillippi as a result finished fifth when the checkered flag waved, giving the young American his inaugural top-five series finish in his second career start.
"It was another successful race weekend for me and the team," stated De Phillippi. "We built on what we had at Sebring and we improved with the car which reflected in our results. I still have some things to learn and we still have room for gain with the car. I'm looking forward to Laguna Seca being another step forward!"
De Phillippi and his JDC MotorSports crew now have a month-long break, before returning to action on May 5-6 with official Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear testing at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indiana, host of Round Four. The championship chase resumes on May 22, with Round Three at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in northern California. De Phillippi enters his home-state race third in the Rookie of the Year chase and seventh in the championship fight.