MX-5: Brett Smrz Laguna Seca race notes

SMRZ CONTINUES MAZDA MX-5 CUP TITLE PURSUIT WITH TOP-FIVE RESULT IN CALIFORNIA American exits Round Two at Laguna Seca third in the championship fight MONTEREY, CALIF. (May 18, 2009) -- American Brett Smrz continued his pursuit of the 2009...

SMRZ CONTINUES MAZDA MX-5 CUP TITLE PURSUIT WITH TOP-FIVE RESULT IN CALIFORNIA
American exits Round Two at Laguna Seca third in the championship fight

MONTEREY, CALIF. (May 18, 2009) -- American Brett Smrz continued his pursuit of the 2009 Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup series title on Saturday (May 16), with Round Two at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. While the talented young driver did not challenge for the win as originally planned, he emerged from a heated battle for position with a strong fourth place result and third place in the championship standings.

First taking to the undulating road course in Northern California on Thursday (May 14) via a promoter's test day, Smrz dealt with a severe understeer condition throughout the day. Despite making changes to both the car and his driving style, the Idaho native continued to battle the problem during official practice one day later, finishing 10th on the timecharts in both sessions.

Smrz, having continually worked with his engineer on solving the understeer problem, entered the lone qualifying session confident he could earn a top-five starting position for the race later in the day. Rolling on-course behind his teammate Bob Michaelian, the goal was to get a good draft early in the session when the tires were at their best. Unfortunately, Smrz and his teammate encountered slower traffic almost immediately, ruining their potential best laps. Despite the setback, the left leg amputee -- the result of a freak trampoline accident in 2007 -- still managed the fifth best time on his fourth lap. Pitting in order to save his tires for the race, Smrz was eventually shuffled back to seventh place when the checkered flag waved.

After a brief break, the former karting standout was back behind the wheel of his No. 6 RaceSimsRus.com/In Touch Physical Therapy Mazda MX-5 Cup car set to commence Round Two of the nine-race championship. The 18 year-old, as has become his custom, enjoyed a great launch when the green flag waved, quickly moving up to fourth place. While initially able to hold the position, Smrz fell back to sixth when his car got loose a couple times. Just as a slower car allowed Smrz to once again attack for position, he was forced to avoid another competitor, causing him to lose ground on the fight for fourth place. Fortunately a full-course caution soon bunched the field back together. While Smrz fell back to seventh when the green flag waved to resume racing, he quickly regained the position and more under braking for turn one, advancing up to fifth place. Thanks to a driver in front sliding off-course in the closing stages of the race, Smrz received the checkered flag in fourth place. With his second top-five result to start the season, Smrz now lies third in the championship fight, a mere two points back of second place.

"We struggled this weekend at Mazda Raceway," stated Smrz. "The car wasn't handling perfect for me, but Jason Hoover never gave up improving my car for the race. I had a good race pace, and was able to come home in the top-five, which is great for the championship. I will have a lot of seat time at New Jersey Motorsports Park for the next MX-5 doubleheader, as I am running in the Skip Barber National races as well that same weekend. Hopefully we can grab a podium position at the next race."

The 2009 race campaign continues for Smrz on June 13-14, with Rounds Five and Six of the BF/Goodrich Skip Barber National series and Rounds Three and Four of the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup taking place at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

-credit: www.brettsmrz.com

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Series SCCA
Drivers Skip Barber , Bob Michaelian , Brett Smrz