D'Agostino Named to Drive Fourth Andersen Racing Star Mazda Car at Sebring's Season Opener with Sponsorship from Classic Mazda PALMETTO, Fla., March 15 - Joe D'Agostino can't quit smiling. Why is he so happy? After two years with limited ...
D'Agostino Named to Drive Fourth Andersen Racing Star Mazda Car at Sebring's Season Opener with Sponsorship from Classic Mazda
PALMETTO, Fla., March 15 - Joe D'Agostino can't quit smiling.
Why is he so happy?
After two years with limited opportunities to race, he'll be driving a car prepared by the 2008 championship-winning team, Andersen Racing, at the 2009 Star Mazda season opener this Friday at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla.
The Brownsburg, Ind.-based driver sees it as a perfect opportunity to get back into the form that saw him record six top-10 finishes in the Atlantic series in 2006 driving for Newman/Wachs Racing.
D'Agostino won the prestigious Team USA Scholarship in 2004. He'll join one of the 2008 winners of the same scholarship, Conor Daly of Noblesville, Ind., under the Andersen Racing tent in the paddock at Sebring this week, as well as two other top drivers: Richard Kent of Clifton Reynes, England, and Denis Navarro of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
D'Agostino will represent Classic Mazda of Orlando, Fla. while he's racing at Sebring, and his deal is currently for just that one race. However, with a full month between the season opener and the second race of the year, both he and the Palmetto, Fla.-based team hope that additional funding can be found so D'Agostino can join Daly, Kent and Navarro at Andersen Racing for the entire Star Mazda championship, which is presented by Goodyear.
"What a dream to be driving for Andersen Racing! I am also very proud to have Classic Mazda as my sponsor for Sebring, and hope that during the event we can turn some heads in the best way possible," D'Agostino said. "I think I'm with the best team in the paddock, and the chemistry is very evident. Hopefully we can put something together for the season, but for now our focus is on Sebring. A big thanks to Andersen Racing and everyone involved who helped make this happen. It's great to be back!"
"I have known Joe for about a year, and have known of his reputation as a driver for many more years," said Andersen Racing co-owner Dan Andersen. "His exploits in Europe definitely proved his abilities, and his work with my organiza tion over the past year has convinced me that this fine young man is deserving of another chance to showcase his skills. I believe he can win early and often in the Star Mazda championship, and though for now this is just a 'one-off,' we are working hard to secure the necessary backing for Joe to run with Andersen Racing the entire season. He is the real deal."
Classic Mazda's sponsorship of D'Agostino's Andersen Racing No. 5 got off to a rousing start last Friday when his Star Mazda car, the SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 Grand-Am car and the Dyson Racing BP/Mazda ALMS LMP2 show car were displayed at a special promotion at the dealership attended by approximately 400 people.
Now D'Agostino will take that enthusiasm to Sebring as he tries to record a good finish in Friday's 45-minute race, which begins at 3:55 p.m. and is preceded by practice sessions beginning Monday morning and qualifying at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday.
His teammates will be doing their best, too. Daly would like nothing better than to win his first Star Mazda race as a preliminary event to the Twelve Hours of Sebring, which his father, Derek, won in 1990 and 1991 after making it to Formula 1, a level his eldest son also aspires to reach.
Kent, who dominated the 2008 Star Mazda season finale at California's Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in his first start with Andersen Racing, will be trying to start 2009 the same way he finished 2008.
Navarro will be making his first Star Mazda appearance, but he tested well with the team in the off-season. He will be representing the South American Formula 3 championship, where he finished third last year with four victories and four pole positions.
It won't be all work, though. The team will celebrate at least two birthdays while at Sebring, as Navarro will turn 22 on Tuesday and D'Agostino will turn 24 on Wednesday.
Andersen Racing is sponsored by Allied Building Products Corp. and Lafarge North America. It is the official development team of Rahal Letterman Racing. In addition to Star Mazda, it fields cars in karting, Formula BMW Americas and Firestone Indy Lights.