Making His First Star Mazda Start, AWR's Pecorari Finishes Fourth; Klein Ran as High as Second at Road Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga., Sept. 25 - Andersen Walko Racing's Robbie Pecorari shook up the Star Mazda regulars when he hounded Luis Schiavo, the...
Making His First Star Mazda Start, AWR's Pecorari Finishes Fourth; Klein Ran as High as Second at Road Atlanta
BRASELTON, Ga., Sept. 25 - Andersen Walko Racing's Robbie Pecorari shook up the Star Mazda regulars when he hounded Luis Schiavo, the series' defending champion, for third place for most of the 30-lap Star Mazda race at Road Atlanta Motorsports Park Friday afternoon. Making his first start ever in the series, which is presented by Goodyear, the 17-year-old from Aston, Pa. took the checkered flag in fourth place.
His AWR teammate, Jonathan Klein of Long Grove, Ill., also made his presence known, and if he hadn't had a flat tire he probably would have finished second.
Michael McDowell led every lap to post his sixth victory of the season and take the points lead. Rounding out the top five were Schiavo, Scott Jenkins, Pecorari and Michael Potekhen.
Pecorari qualified fifth in his No. 98 AWR entry, which is sponsored by SAI Hydraulics.
"We were hurting in practice because we had an engine problem and were down on power," Pecorari said. "We figured it out for qualifying, and that went well."
Pecorari lost a spot at the start of the race but he kept digging and soon he was right on the tail of third place. He actually got third for awhile, but then a full-course yellow waved and he had to drop back to fourth. On the restart he was in a pack that went three wide and he was going for second, but then he ran out of room and had to hit the brakes or get involved in an accident. He wisely chose the former.
"For the race I was just trying to keep my head straight and stay on the track," Pecorari said. "Luis and I battled from about lap seven or eight until the end. It was clean, side-by-side racing; it was good."
Klein had a fabulous start. He qualified eighth but quickly vaulted up to third and then passed Scott Jenkins for second on lap five. Klein held the runner-up spot for five laps, but then he suffered a flat left-rear tire and had to drop out with 16 laps down to finish 26th in the 31-car field.
Klein's car, No. 97, is sponsored by Kalfact Plastics; Fettes, Love and Sieben; Nexus Distribution Corp.; Midwest Steel & Services; Ironclad and ProStar.
"The whole week we were in the top 10, and we went from eighth to third on the first lap," Klein said. "Then we had a yellow, and when the green flag flew on the restart I followed Jenkins and passed him going into turn 10.
"I pulled away from him; I couldn't even see him in my mirrors. Then McDowell and I ran together, which was great.
"Then the problem developed," he continued. "At first I thought that a sway bar had broken. I had no grip in the rear. I had a big lead on Jenkins at the time, and if the tire hadn't gone down I was going to finish second.
"I started to drop back because of the tire, and I was definitely out of the top five before the incident," he continued. "Going into turn one I turned in and the car started to move around, and I spun. I didn't touch the wall but it was close. When I got out the left-rear tire was shredded and off the rim. It was unfortunate. I think it was a slow air leak that just got progressively worse. We're still learning how to set the car up to save our tires more."
The Road Atlanta race will be televised on SPEED at noon Eastern time on Oct. 10.
The series now switches from its usual road courses to the 1-mile oval at Phoenix Int'l Raceway for an event next Saturday, Oct. 2. "We were pretty fast in testing at Phoenix, so I'm really looking forward to it," Klein noted.
The season finale will be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. on Oct. 16.
Klein will do both events. Pecorari plans aren't finalized, but he said he might do the race at Laguna Seca.
"We're not sure yet because of finances," he explained.
"It was great to do this race with Robbie; I congratulate him on getting fourth in his first Star Mazda race, and I hope we can do all the Star Mazda races together with Andersen Walko next year," Klein said. "We really push each other, and it helped us both go fast this weekend. Eric [Langbein], Scott [Gates], Ian Willis, Seth [Jubelin], Robbie and I all worked really well together at Road Atlanta this weekend. Andersen Walko cars are going to be good the rest of the year and all of next year too."
Andersen Walko Racing's office is in Fairfield, N.J. and its shop is in North Versailles, Pa. For more information please see www.andersenwalko.com, www.starmazda.com, www.americanlemans.com and www.restartcommunications.com