AWR Finishes 2005 with Stellar Record In Star Mazda Competition; Pecorari Finishes Second in Championship FAIRFIELD, N.J., Oct. 21 - Andersen Walko Racing continued to make good on its advertising claims of offering the highest level of car ...
AWR Finishes 2005 with Stellar Record In Star Mazda Competition; Pecorari Finishes Second in Championship
FAIRFIELD, N.J., Oct. 21 - Andersen Walko Racing continued to make good on its advertising claims of offering the highest level of car preparation available by compiling a stellar record in the recently completed 2005 Star Mazda series presented by Goodyear.
The team, which is based in North Versailles, Pa. and Fairfield, N.J., ended the season with 75 percent of its drivers in the top 10 and half of them in the top four. The driver who had the best results for the team, 18-year-old Robbie Pecorari of Aston, Pa., finished second in the national championship and earned its prestigious Rookie of the Year award.
Three of the team's four drivers were victorious during the course of the 12-race series. Pecorari won twice (on the oval at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. and at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga.) Sixteen-year-old Graham Rahal of New Albany, Ohio became the youngest winner in the history of the series when he took the checkered flag at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Ore. Pablo Donoso of Santiago, Chile was triumphant in one of the races at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Jonathan Klein of Long Grove, Ill. didn't win a race but he finished the season with a solid second-place finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. last weekend.
All in all the team recorded 16 podium finishes for the year in Star Mazda competition, including two-thirds of the spots at the last two races. Its drivers also won the pole positions for a fourth of the events during the course of the year, which ran from March through October.
In addition to the two races that Pecorari won, he also got first-place points at Mosport, Ontario when a driver who wasn't running for the championship, Jay Howard, took the checkered there. He had one pole and a total of seven podium finishes in all. His victory in September at Road Atlanta was especially impressive, as he won the pole and led every lap of the race.
Rahal had six podium finishes, which included three seconds as well as that Po rtland victory.
Besides winning once at Infineon, Donoso had two other podium finishes for three podiums in all, as well as three poles.
That gave the team a lot to celebrate during the series' championship awards banquet last Saturday night in the San Carlos Ballroom at the Monterey Marriott in Monterey, Calif.
Although all four AWR drivers were recognized during the program, it was Pecorari and his lead mechanic, Caleb Stream, who took home the biggest awards. Pecorari, a freshman at Delaware County Community College in Media, Pa., not only finished second in the championship, which was worth $70,000, but he earned an extra $10,000 as the series' Rookie of the Year. Bob Shaffer of Goodyear made the presentation.
"I have to thank my parents; without them there would be no money behind me," said Pecorari, who is looking for additional sponsorship to advance up the ladder into the Formula Atlantic series in 2006. "I have to thank the whole Andersen Walko team; Glenn Phillips, my engineer, and my lead mechanic, Caleb Stream. I also want to thank Doug Prendeville, who helped me out with engines."
(Prendeville's brother, Andrew, and Pecorari's brother, Adam, finished second and third in the Formula Ford Zetec championship in 2004 driving Andersen Walko Racing entries.)
Perhaps no one made a more jubilant acceptance speech than Stream, who was chosen as the series' Crew Member of the Year. "He prepared a nearly perfect car for every race," noted the series' administrator, Gary Rodriques, of the Monroeville, Pa.-based mechanic.
"Robbie, you're the man!" Stream said enthusiastically after kissing all three of the trophy girls on the podium. "I have to thank Robbie, of course, and John [Walko] and Dan [Andersen], Glenn Phillips and the whole Andersen Walko team, including Kate [Gundlach], our data girl."
Although everyone on the team is proud of its accomplishments, no one on a top team rests long on their laurels. Work was being done towards the 2006 season before the 2005 season had even concluded, and it will continue throughout the winter.