For more information: Linda Mansfield (75534.2635@CompuServe.com) Morioka Runs Into Trouble While Running Fourth at Phoenix Saturday PHOENIX, April 19 - A skirmish with Urubatan Helou Jr. on a lap-18 restart proved costly for Zak Morioka in...
For more information: Linda Mansfield (75534.2635@CompuServe.com)
Morioka Runs Into Trouble While Running Fourth at Phoenix Saturday
PHOENIX, April 19 - A skirmish with Urubatan Helou Jr. on a lap-18 restart proved costly for Zak Morioka in Saturday's 30-lap/45-mile U.S. Formula Ford 2000 race at Phoenix Int'l Raceway (PIR). The 18-year-old from Miami, Fla., and Sao Paulo, Brazil, was running fourth at the time in the Kentucky Fried Chicken of Brazil/A.M.E. Sports Van Diemen Quicksilver Ford, but he wasn't able to continue after the incident because the car's suspension had been damaged and he couldn't steer all the way to the right.
He started sixth in the 33-car field, and his unofficial finishing position was 29th. It was Morioka's first DNF of the year. He is fourth in the overall point standings following Saturday's race.
The event was the first half of a U.S. FF2000 doubleheader that is part of the Chevy Trucks Desert Star Classic. Duncan Dayton won the event over Helou, Jeff Horne, J. Michael Johnson and Ryan Hampton.
Morioka got an excellent start and held his sixth starting spot for the first three laps before Tim Duit passed him on lap four to drop him back to seventh. Morioka regained sixth by passing Matt Sielsky three laps later.
He got fourth on lap 10 when the third-place driver, Seth Taylor, spun in turn three. Morioka did an excellent job of defensive driving to miss Taylor, passing the fifth-place driver, Duit, in the process to earn fourth.
Don Burgoon and another driver made contact in turn nine on lap 14 and Burgoon flipped. He was unhurt, but that brought out a full-course yellow.
When the green waved again on lap 18 Morioka and Helou made contact on the frontstretch while fighting for fourth. Morioka slid off course in turn one. He was able to rejoin the field, but he was brought in for a stop-and-go penalty the next circuit. He had discovered the damage to the car by that point and retired.
"We were racing very hard," Morioka said. "I should have backed off and let him go. Hindsight is always 20-20.
"I am very disappointed for my team as well as for myself. We had a very strong car. If I hadn't damaged the suspension I would have rejoined the field, but I couldn't turn to the right."