Andersen Racing's Daly Dominates on Saturday In Star Mazda Action at NJMP MILLVILLE, N.J., June 13 - Despite a full-course caution that wiped out his 3.963-second lead, Andersen Racing's Conor Daly led all 28 laps of Saturday's Star Mazda race...
Andersen Racing's Daly Dominates on Saturday In Star Mazda Action at NJMP
MILLVILLE, N.J., June 13 - Despite a full-course caution that wiped out his 3.963-second lead, Andersen Racing's Conor Daly led all 28 laps of Saturday's Star Mazda race at New Jersey Motorsports Park's Thunderbolt Raceway to post his first series victory.
One of his teammates, Mikael Grenier of Stoneham, Quebec, vaulted from eighth to third on the start to give the Palmetto, Fla.-based team two of the three podium positions in round four of the series, which is presented by Goodyear.
Daly, 17, of Noblesville, Ind., started on the pole, but he was passed by Adam Christodoulou, who started and finished second, on the initial standing start. Daly got him back in Turn 3 of that first lap and then never looked back with his No. 22, which is sponsored by MAZDASPEED Motorsports, Indeck, Cytomax, College Network, Merchant Services, Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America.
Daly had a 1.292 second lead over Christodoulou at the checkered after 40 minutes of competition on the 2.25-mile road course.
Daly said his car was perfect, which was the same adjective Grenier used to describe his No. 17, which is sponsored by NAPA Auto Parts, CAA-Quebec, HS Telecom, Desharnais Pneus et Mecanique, 66graphx, VSM Racing, Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America.
Although the top three remained the same on the lap chart throughout the race, things changed dramatically for those behind them as soon as the 26-car field entered Turn 1 on the initial lap. Four or five cars went off course as racing room ran out. Unfortunately one of them was Andersen Racing's Richard Kent of Clifton Reynes, England in the No. 33 sponsored by Traka, Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America. He dropped from fourth to 11th at that point and played catch-up the rest of the day. He climbed back up to seventh by lap 19 only to encounter problems again in Turn 1 on a restart on lap 23 while battling Michael Furfari and Peter Dempsey. He only lost one spot that time, however, and finished eighth.
Andersen Racing's Brazilian Star Mazda driver, Denis Navarro of Sao Paulo, advanced from tenth to seventh on the initial start with his No. 21, which is sponsored by Navarro Medicines Distribution, Allied Interior Products, Lafarge North America and Shock Doctor. He spun in the dirt that was kicked onto the track in Turn 1 on the second lap, however, and dropped to last place. He had some handling issues after the spin and ended up 19th in the final rundown for his first race ever in the Garden State.
All but two of the 28 laps were run under green. The full-course yellow during laps 21 and 22 was for a dramatic accident in Turn 4 in which Rusty Mitchell's car became airborne after contact with Michael Guasch's machine. Luckily both escaped injury.
Saturday's race was the first half of a Star Mazda doubleheader here this weekend. Both are part of the second annual Mazda Formula X event. After the race Daly said he thinks he has a car that could do it again tomorrow. Grenier, however, said he thinks he has a car that could beat Daly's, so Sunday's race at 2 p.m. should be very interesting. Qualifying will be held from 9:20 a.m. to 10 a.m. and it will be critical, as a good starting spot here is very important.
With the victory Daly rises to fourth place in the point standings, trailing only Christodoulou, Dempsey and Joel Miller. Kent is eighth, Grenier is tenth and Navarro is 14th. Andersen Racing is second in the team point standings with 107 points to JDC Motorsports' 124 as Andersen Racing tries to defend its 2008 team championship.
Saturday's race was broadcast live on HDNet, which will also carry tomorrow's race live during a telecast from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time. HDNet is available on AT&T, Charter Communications, Comcast, DIRECT TV, DISH Network, Insight, Mediacom, Verizon and more than 40 NCTC cable affiliate companies.
The series is also in action next weekend, as round six is slated for Saturday, June 20 at the Milwaukee Mile.
Driver post-race quotes follow:
Conor Daly: "I definitely feel good. It was a great race. It probably wasn't as exciting as people like, but I enjoyed it.
"The car was perfect; it was so consistent. I was able to open up a gap at the beginning of the race and after the restart as well.
"My car was creeping on the standing start and I didn't get a good start, and Adam got by. He was ahead of me in Turn 1 and Turn 2 on the first lap, but I got him in Turn 3.
"On the first couple of laps the track was slick. Off-line there were dirt and rocks. Off-line it was sketchy, but on-line it wasn't too bad.
"Adam has the experience and he's a good driver. I knew that if there was an opportunity to pass me he would, so I had to focus on opening up a gap on him while keeping my tires cool.
"When the yellow came out it was kind of frustrating, but I anticipated that there would be a full-course caution and I got a good restart. At one point sweat got in my eye and I couldn't see out of my right eye, but on the full-course yellow I was able to rub it off.
"On the restart, if Adam would have tried something it would have been a really ballsy move because you're flat out on the straightaway before you head into Turn 1. I just focused on doing the best I could on the restart and it worked out. My car was really good in clean air.
"I really have to thank everyone at Andersen Racing and my sponsors; the car was perfect."
Mikael Grenier: "It is my first podium position in the series, and I'm quite happy about it. We had a bad qualification but the race was good.
"I had a pretty good start and took third right way. I was as fast as Adam was, but I couldn't get him.
"We tried something in qualifying that didn't work, but the car was perfect for the race."
Richard Kent: "I got off the line very well and got into third at the start, but then I went wide and went off course in Turn 1.
"I came back up to seventh. Then on the restart I was inside of Furfari and then Dempsey tried to make it three wide. There was dirt all over the track; I ran wide and went off course again, but I just lost one position.
"Despite that, the car was pretty good. We have some balance issues to work on before qualifying tomorrow, but we have time to work on it."
Denis Navarro: "On the start I went from tenth to seventh, but on the next lap there was dirt on the track in Turn 1 and I spun and dropped to last place. I came back to 19th. The car was OK. We have some handling issues we're going to work on, but it was OK."