Kent Wins the Pole For Andersen Racing In Star Mazda Action Thursday at Sebring SEBRING, Fla., March 19 - Anyone who thought Richard Kent's dominating performance in the 2008 season finale of the Star Mazda championship presented by Goodyear was...
Kent Wins the Pole For Andersen Racing In Star Mazda Action Thursday at Sebring
SEBRING, Fla., March 19 - Anyone who thought Richard Kent's dominating performance in the 2008 season finale of the Star Mazda championship presented by Goodyear was a fluke was proven wrong Thursday at Sebring International Raceway.
After testing the waters last October resulted in a pole, a new track record and a victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in his first race in this series, the Andersen Racing rookie won the pole for tomorrow's 2009 season opener at Sebring with a lap in 2:00.285 (110.737 mph) during qualifying Thursday afternoon on Sebring's 3.7-mile road course.
Kent, of Clifton Reynes, England, drives the Andersen Racing No. 33 sponsored by Traka and Allied Interior Products. After a cat-and-mouse game of tire management with the other teams here, Kent's fastest lap came on the 17th of 19 laps he ran in the 45-minute qualifying session.
All four of the Palmetto, Fla.-based team's Star Mazda drivers competing here are rookies, but all four were in the top six at some point or another during practice here. Unfortunately two of the four encountered rare problems with their cars during qualifying, but Joe D'Agostino of Brownsburg, Ind., qualified 11th for the team with a time of 2:01.630 (109.512 mph) in a car sponsored by Classic Mazda of Orlando, Fla., Allied Interior Products, Lafarge and Arai Helmets.
Gearbox problems spoiled the qualifying run of Conor Daly of Noblesville, Ind., who will start 16th tomorrow in the No. 22 sponsored by Indeck, Cytomax, College Network and Merchant Services. Tomorrow's race supports the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, an American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race that Daly's father, Derek, won in both 1990 and 1991. Conor Daly's qualifying time for his first Star Mazda race ever was a 2:02.455 (108.775 mph), which occurred on his seventh of eight laps.
Andersen Racing's fourth driver here, Denis Navarro of Sao Paulo, Brazil, will start 25th in the field of 28 after his car suffered a problem with its right-front suspension during qualifying. Like Daly, Navarro was able to bring his car, which is sponsored by Navarro Medicines Distribution and Allied Interior Products, into the pits safely despite the problem. His fastest lap was his third of eight, when he was timed in 2:03.853 (107.547 mph).
Tomorrow's 45-minute race begins at 3:55 p.m. Eastern, and live timing and scoring is slated at imsaracing.net. Check starmazda.com for future TV broadcast information.
Richard Kent: "I'm glad we got the pole, but each run I had traffic. I didn't get two clean laps in a row. There was always someone around so I couldn't get a really clean lap in to really nail it down. I think I can go faster.
"It's going to be tough tomorrow. I want to thank Traka, Allied, and everyone at Andersen Racing, especially my mechanic, Alan Oppel, and my engineer, Remi Lanteigne.
"The track wasn't as fast as it was yesterday. Every time the ALMS cars go out it makes the track slippery for us. Our race tomorrow is in the afternoon, which is good."
Joe D'Agostino: "We had a pretty conservative strategy with the Classic Mazda car, and a good plan to manage our Goodyear Eagle tires.
"We went out on scrubs, and the tires were good. We made a small adjustment, and then came in for stickers. That set is our race tires, so we didn't want to use them up. I did one flying lap, which was my quickest lap of the session. Then traffic didn't allow me to get another good lap in, but we came in because we wanted to save those tires for the race.
"We made another change, and just got caught out a little on that. But it's nice to be back in the car. If I can find enough sponsorship to stay in the car for the rest of the season, we'll learn things here that will help us the rest of the season."
Conor Daly: "The gearbox let go. I felt something earlier during practice, but we couldn't find anything wrong with it. Today it just let go. I came back into the pits in third gear and just parked it."
Denis Navarro: "I hoped to be in the top five, but a right-front suspension piece broke. I couldn't do much. I didn't go off, but it ended my session early. We'll make repairs, and I think the car will be good for the race."