Hearn Motorsports Takes First Formula BMW USA Podium Phinny Earns Second in Denver's Second Race DENVER, August 14, 2006 -- Hearn Motorsports earned its first Formula BMW USA Series podium finish on Sunday at the Grand Prix of Denver. Ryan...
Hearn Motorsports Takes First Formula BMW USA Podium
Phinny Earns Second in Denver's Second Race
DENVER, August 14, 2006 -- Hearn Motorsports earned its first Formula BMW USA Series podium finish on Sunday at the Grand Prix of Denver. Ryan Phinny (Carmel Valley, Calif.) raced the No. 16 Baja Cantina/Hearn Motorsports BMW to second-place in the second race of the two-race weekend on the streets of Denver. The young, Northern Californian also had captured the first front-row starting spot for the Richie Hearn-owned team with the second quickest qualifying time for the race. Teammate Jules Duc (Los Gatos, Calif.) finished 19th and 23rd respectively in the two races driving the No. 12 Duc Housing Partners/Hearn Motorsports BMW.
"It was a really good weekend and everything finally came together," said Hearn about the Denver success. "We finally broke through with Ryan. He did a really good job. Ryan's racecraft is really impressive; he is among the best I have seen when it comes to making smart, aggressive passes. Even when he started 18th on Saturday and finished sixth he was being conservative. He always goes forward. In the second race he fell into fourth after he was freight-trained at the start but he got really aggressive and earned back those spots. It all finally came together. We only made minor changes to Ryan's car over the course of the weekend but he was really focused on Saturday and Sunday and got everything out it. On a street course you really need to hustle the car and he did that. It was good for the team."
The Hearn Motorsports crew gridded Duc and Phinny for Sunday's race with high hopes but, as has far too-often been the case for the Las Vegas-based team in 2006, the event would not go without its challenges. Phinny got what Hearn considered his best standing start of the season from outside of the first row. However, the layout of the course awarded those on the inside and two cars snuck around the 15 year-old entering the first turn of Denver's 1.65-mile, nine-turn temporary street course. Now fighting from fourth, Phinny went on the charge. Wall contact with the leader allowed Phinny to move to third and, on lap 15, Phinny made a strong pass to take second-place. The checkered flag flew on lap 23 with the No. 16 Hearn entry just 0.517 seconds behind race winner Reed Stevens. Phinny was more than a second clear of third-place. The performance has moved Phinny into ninth-place in the season-long points chase just two points behind eighth. Duc is currently ranked 24th.
The podium-finish, Phinny's highest result in a car, came following Saturday's impressive run through the formula car field from 18th on the grid to sixth. The 12-place jump earned the young karting star "most improved driver" for the 11th round of the 14-race season. Duc's race on Sunday was his most impressive of the two events. After being hit from behind early in the race, Duc continued to lap competitively despite a broken rear-wing mount and bent suspension member. Eventually, Duc was forced to concede the race after making contact with the wall due to the broken suspension piece.
"Jules got hit in the back in the second race ruining his rear wing and bending an A-Arm," offered Hearn about Duc. "He kept going but eventually clipped the wall as a result of that and that put us out. He was doing pretty well. He and I sat down on Saturday night and talked about being aggressive. He came out and showed a much more aggressive style again on Sunday. It was good see."
Hearn now turns his attention to the season-finale at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ont., Canada on September 1-3. The high-speed Mosport facility has been a strong one for the team in its three years of existence. In 2004, Raphael Matos earned the team's first pole position and podium finish there in the Star Mazda Series. Last year, Jay Howard piloted Hearn's car to the team's first Star Mazda victory at the historic Canadian facility.
"Mosport is a good track for us," offered Hearn who lives in Henderson, Nev. "We've run well there in the past. We won a pole and our first race in Mazda at Mosport. It's not a terribly technical track but it requires a lot of confidence by the drivers to go fast there. It will be good."
Following Mosport, Hearn will take up to three cars to the Formula BMW World Finals in Valencia, Spain on November 24-26. Duc has been declared in one car at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo. The event draws entries from every Formula BMW series from around the world and can sky-rocket a driver's career onto an international stage.
Hearn will also be very active on the promotions-side of the program in the coming weeks. He will be taking a pair of Hearn Motorsports Formula BMW USA cars to the 33rd Annual Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, August 18-20. Hearn will personally be on site and have the cars on display in the main hall throughout the weekend at one of historic racing's premier events.