PALMER EXTENDS HIS LEAD IN US MAZDA OPEN WHEEL SERIES
Darren Palmer’s impressive form in the US continued in the recent 4th round of the 1998 Star Mazda Series, finishing 2nd, two seconds behind Tony Buffomante.
Held on the night before the Indy 500, at The Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP), traditionally it draws the biggest crowd out of all of the Star Mazda races.
On race night there was 8000 people on seats to see close and exciting racing put on by the stars of tomorrow.
The race in fact ended up being on the night of the Indy 500 as bad weather forced the organisers to cancel the saturday night show, but the crowd was just as good as the organisers anticipated.
As it was Palmers first race at an oval, he wasn't expecting too much, just to finish.
"We came here with no great expectations, as ovals can be tricky, but to be leaving with a second makes me feel more comfortable about the series standings."
Darren's comfort comes from the fact that Marty Hahnfeld, who is currently second in the series had a meeting he would rather forget.
"On Friday night I had a big impact with Chris Schultz and destroyed the front of my car," Marty said.
"We did repair in time for qualifying, but I think its fair to say that my confidence was down after the hit, and that showed in my result."
Hahnfeld finished 8th in the 50 lap race which gives Palmer a handsome lead going into this weekend's 5th round race at Mid-Ohio.
Palmer obviously enjoyed racing in front of the large crowd.
"After the race was postponed on Saturday, I didn't expect to arrive today and see this many people. It was great," Darren said.
"This oval is only .686 of a mile so the ground capacity is not many more than what turned up, it was a great adrenalin rush."
Being the night before the Indy as well as being a support race for the midget feature event gave this meeting a lot of credibility, the atmosphere was sensational, and the fact that the race will be aired on ESPN 2 in June shows that the Star Mazda series should certainly be a consideration for any driver planning a route to the top of the motor racing ladder.