Following a consistent season with a pair of victories and nine top five finishes, eight of which were podiums, Monument, CO's Adrian Carrio wrapped up the Star Mazda series title today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. A caution-filled race was ...
Following a consistent season with a pair of victories and nine top five finishes, eight of which were podiums, Monument, CO's Adrian Carrio wrapped up the Star Mazda series title today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. A caution-filled race was reduced from a 28-lap offering to a 45-minute timed event after a number of accidents. Ryan Justice scored his second victory of the season, followed by Mike Potekhen and Carrio. Justice passed Carrio on the start and held off Potekhen, who was unable to make a run with the number of yellows. Carrio ran a conservative event to claim the final podium position.
"I was really hoping that we were able to stay green this weekend in what will be my last Star Mazda race as I look to move up to the Champ Car Atlantic Series next season," the seventeen-year-old Carrio commented. "Ryan was able to get the jump on me at the start as I was looking to protect my car and Michael got a run on in me in turn five but we never got a chance to really race each other. It feels good to take the championship and I have to thank my crew at World Speed Motorsports as they work as hard, if not harder, than we do as drivers. I also have to thank Rockford Fosgate and Barry Shames for sponsoring me this season as without their assistance I couldn't go racing."
I interviewed Carrio a little over a month ago to introduce the talented teenager to the motorsports world. He had already made a name for himself by appearing in the Team 16 effort at the 2005 Rolex 24 at Daytona and entered this Star Mazda season as one of the favorites with the top five from last year moving on to different series. Carrio asserted himself as the top contender with consecutive victories at Montreal and Salt Lake City. He also scored a series high six pole positions, no doubt valuing the experience of former Atlantic competitors World Speed Motorsports.
Without focusing solely on the series champion, it is worth documenting some of the other rising stars in the series this season. Kevin Lacroix secured the Rookie of the Year championship finishing runner-up in the standings. Lacroix failed to win but like Carrio made top ten finishes a regularity with 11 from 11 starts. He didn't start the season-opening event at Sebring.
Justice improved to 3rd in the standings after a close-fought battle with several other drivers; Potekhen came home 4th in points with Ron White 5th. Potekhen lost all hopes of a championship following a severe 45-point docking after an accident at Road America; White had a late-season surge with a switch to newly formed Ross Smith Racing, winning three straight events at Road America, Mosport, and Road Atlanta.
Gerardo Bonilla, the 2005 Formula Dodge National Champion, finished 6th in points and was first in the Expert Championship, for drivers aged 30-44. The Masters Championship, for those competitors 45 and older, was won by Doug Peterson who was 9th in overall points. Bonilla won the first round in Sebring with two other podiums, while Peterson posted five top ten finishes with a best finish of 6th at Road America.