F-MAZDA: Road America F-Mazda Challenge summary

INAUGURAL SPEED CONNECTION FORMULA MAZDA CHALLENGE TITLE GOES TO FUTRELLE The Georgia driver scored his six win of the season at Road America as part of the prestigious June Sprints ELKHART LAKE, WIS. (June 22, 2008) -- As part of this ...

INAUGURAL SPEED CONNECTION FORMULA MAZDA CHALLENGE TITLE GOES TO FUTRELLE
The Georgia driver scored his six win of the season at Road America as part of the prestigious June Sprints

ELKHART LAKE, WIS. (June 22, 2008) -- As part of this past weekend's prestigious Chicago Region SCCA June Sprints, North Carolina's Franklin Futrelle secured the inaugural Speed Connection Formula Mazda Challenge title over the weekend (June 20-21), winning Round Seven at Road America in Wisconsin. Joining the newly-crowned champion in the victory celebrations were Bruce Lawrence and Juan Marchand.

Running in conjunction with one of the premier events in SCCA Club Racing, the seventh race of the inaugural Speed Connection Formula Mazda Challenge season commenced with a morning practice session on Friday (June 20). Immediately getting up to speed on the famed 4.0-mile road course, Futrelle, Lawrence and Jason Vinkmulder topped the speed charts, posting fast laps within one second of each other.

Following a short break, the FM pilots were back behind the wheel just after the lunch break for the first of two qualifying sessions. Futrelle remained the driver to beat, setting the provisional grid for the Saturday afternoon race by posting the lone 2:16 lap in the session. Nearly a full second slower on the timesheets, Marchand turned the second quickest lap in the session, earning a provisional front-row starting position, while Lawrence completed the top-three, a further second adrift.

Returning to the well-liked high-speed road course one day later, all the Speed Connection competitors rolled on-course with the pole position for the late afternoon race still up for grabs. Finding increased speed in the second qualifying session, both Lawrence and Vinkmulder broke into the 2:16s, challenging Futrelle for top honors. While the duo significantly reduced the gap among the top of the speed charts, neither driver was able to better Futrelle's fast time from Friday. When the checkered flag waved to end the session, the championship leader had secured the pole position via a fast lap of 2:16.544, just edging Lawrence and Vinkmulder. Unable to find more speed in the second qualifying session, Marchand fell back to fourth among the Speed Connection Formula Mazda Challenge contingent.

Bringing the day's racing activities to a close, the Speed Connection Formula Mazda Challenge cars rolled on-course Saturday (June 21) afternoon as part of a combined Formula Mazda and Formula Ford affair. While it initially appeared the 13-lap race would be run in dry conditions, the rain arrived midway through the pace lap. Due to the slick conditions and the field being on racing slicks, it came as no surprise that the opening few laps were run under the full-course caution. While several drivers elected to pit under the caution period to change tires, Futrelle, Lawrence, Vinkmulder and Marchand elected to stay out.

When the green flag wave to commence the racing action, Lawrence got the better launch in the tricky conditions, passing Futrelle for the lead entering turn one. The series organizer maintained the top spot until turn five, when the polesitter regained the top position. Building a slight lead over the course of the next few corners, Futrelle held the advantage until Canada Corner, when he suddenly went off-course as a result of standing water in the turn. Quickly regrouping, he rejoined the race still in the lead, thanks in large part to Lawrence briefly going off-course in the same place and the rest of the field encountering difficulties in the slick conditions.

Behind the lead duo, Marchand soon advanced into third place, while Vinkmulder's race ended prematurely. With the track conditions improving with each passing lap, gaps rapidly began to appear among the Speed Connection FM competitors. Gaining confidence and speed as the race progressed, Futrelle never relinquished the lead, capturing his sixth win of the 2008 campaign ahead of Lawrence and Marchand. With the win the victory, Futrelle clinched the inaugural Speed Connection Formula Mazda Challenge title with one race still to go. Completing the top-five in Round Seven were Casey Carden and Sam Lockwood.

The eight-race Speed Connection Formula Mazda Challenge concludes on July 12-13 with the final round taking place at the historic Watkins Glen International road course in upstate New York.

-credit: fmc

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About this article
Series Road racing
Drivers Sam Lockwood
Teams HART