AWR Lime Rock Saturday notes

Klein Rebounds from Crash in Testing To Finish Fourth Saturday at Lime Rock in His Second Star Mazda Race Ever LIME ROCK, Conn., July 3 - Jonathan Klein proved two things on Saturday: that he is able to rebound from racing's all-to-frequent ...

Klein Rebounds from Crash in Testing To Finish Fourth Saturday at Lime Rock in His Second Star Mazda Race Ever

LIME ROCK, Conn., July 3 - Jonathan Klein proved two things on Saturday: that he is able to rebound from racing's all-to-frequent setbacks, and that he's a quick learner.

The young driver from Long Grove, Ill. destroyed his primary car at Lime Rock Park in an accident during testing on Tuesday. He put that out of his mind, however, and on Saturday he drove another car to a solid fourth-place finish in only his second Star Mazda race ever.

Klein's team, Andersen Walko Racing (AWR), leased the car Klein drove on Saturday from John Mirachi of Racer's Edge Motorsports, whom Klein made a point of thanking after Saturday's 44-lap, 45-minute, 28-car race that is supporting Monday's New England Grand Prix, an American Le Mans Series (ALMS) event.

Tuesday's accident was a nasty one. It occurred when Klein came up over the crest of a hill to find two cars going extremely slow and blocking the track. He flipped over one and into the other, but luckily all three drivers involved escaped unhurt.

Klein's Star Mazda wasn't so lucky.

"I also want to thank everyone at Andersen Walko Racing for doing a great job, but especially Eric Langbein, Scooter Gates and Seb Jabelin," Klein added. "They had to strip down the old car and see what parts we could use on the car we leased from John Mirachi. We put our set-up on it and we were able to go faster than we did in our regular car."

Klein was fastest in the final practice session on Friday and he qualified seventh Saturday morning. His teammate in this race, Mike Andersen of Green Pond, N.J., qualified ninth. The latter was as high as sixth but was run off the course and blocked repeatedly, and eventually finished eighth.

Klein got a fabulous start, vaulting from seventh to fourth right away. Andersen, however, was being dive-bombed by some over-aggressive fellow drivers, and he slipped to 11th.

Klein got passed by Mike Potekhen on lap 19, but he retook the spot by passing Potekhen back right before the event's second full-course yellow waved on lap 24. His car developed a gearbox problem near the end but he still held on for fourth at the checkered, with only Mike McDowell, Dan DiLeo and C.R. Crews III in front of him, in that order.

Klein's bright red AWR entry is sponsored by Nexus Distribution, Ironclad Performance Wear, Midwest Steel & Services, Kafact Plastics and Fettes, Love & Seiben. The Star Mazda North American championship is presented by Goodyear.

Andersen was still in eleventh for the first yellow but he was able to move up to seventh shortly after the restart and he was sixth when Klein was running fifth. Andersen was part of a pack of four cars that ran nose-to-tail or abreast of each other for several laps and he got blocked numerous times, but in the end he survived to place eighth.

The race is scheduled to be shown on SPEED at noon Eastern time on July 11. The next one is slated for Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. July 15-17. Further information can be found at www.andersenwalko.com and www.starmazda.com. AWR is based in Fairfield, N.J. and North Versailles, Pa.

Driver quotes follow:

Jonathan Klein: "I got a good start. I stayed to the inside and a few guys blocked each other and two cars got together, which helped me get a run into turn one.

"Then the yellow came out. Then I got passed in the left-hand turn, and I passed him back in turn one. Then the second full-course yellow came out. We had a clutch problem at that point, but we just dealt with it.

"This is only my second race in this series, and its arguably the most competitive open-wheel series in North America, so I'm very happy. Finishing fourth today is a big confidence booster."

Did you think about Tuesday's crash at any point during the race?

"Nope! I totally blocked Tuesday out of my mind, and the two other competitors that were involved in that crash, luckily we smoked them today.

"C.R. Crews raced me hard; he was quick. But he did a great job."

Mike Andersen: "It was a little bit crazy. The start was kind of wild. In the opening laps, people were dive-bombing each other everywhere. Then we had the first full-course yellow. There was a lot of oil on the track after that first yellow.

"On the second restart I got put on the grass on the frontstretch, and I wasn't very happy about that. That guy cost me three spots. I guess Mike Potekhen was having some sort of problem today or something.

"Mickey Gilbert passed me, but I was catching [Andre] Desmarais. I didn't have enough to pass him at the end though.

"My tires were best at the very end of the race.  The car was a little loose
at the beginning.  After the first yellow the car got better though.

"The track was really slippery though due to the oil."

-lm-

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About this article
Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Jonathan Klein , Mike Potekhen , Mickey Gilbert , Eric Lang