Houston: Race notes

Ryan Justice grabs first Star Mazda victory at Houston May 13, 2006. Houston, Texas. Ryan Justice capped off his race weekend at Houston, where he topped the time sheets in every session around the Reliant Park street circuit, with his first ...

Ryan Justice grabs first Star Mazda victory at Houston

May 13, 2006. Houston, Texas. Ryan Justice capped off his race weekend at Houston, where he topped the time sheets in every session around the Reliant Park street circuit, with his first career Star Mazda victory in Round Two of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear , being held in conjunction with the American Le Mans and Champ Car Lone Star Grand Prix in Houston this weekend. Justice, driving the #38 Northwest Autosport Mazda, led every lap to squeeze out a 0.791 second victory over Daniel Herrington in the # 3 Bluetooth SIG AIM Autosport Mazda this afternoon. Kevin Lacroix, driving the #74 Uni-Select Auto Parts John Walko Racing Mazda, completed this weekend's podium.

"It was a great feeling to cross the finish line and get that first victory," Justice, a native of Portland, Oregon said. "It makes all the hard work, the hour of running every day, the weight training, test sessions and sacrifices drivers make to compete worth it. I also have to give credit to my crew at Northwest Autosport for their long hours to give me a race-winning car. The car didn't handle as well on tires with a heat cycle on them as they did the other days of the weekend, I'm not sure if it was because of the heat or the rubber laid down by the American Le Mans Series last night, and with the yellow flags I wasn't able to pull away from he field as I had hoped but it feels great to cross the finish line first."

Herrington, from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, set fast lap of the race at 1:10.234 and scored his second consecutive second place finish to start off his Star Mazda career, moving into the points lead after series points leader entering the weekend, Gerardo Bonilla, was knocked out of the event in a single car incident during a restart. "We had a good race again today and I was able to get past Adrian Carrio on the opening lap and had my sights set on Justice in first place," Herrington said. "On the first restart I was able to get a good run on Ryan and was able to make it past him when the caution came out for Bonilla's crash. My car was strong in the closing laps but I wasn't able to get back to the front. We are happy to have started the season strong and to take the points lead and all thanks go to my sponsor Bluetooth, AIM Autosport and my father."

Making his series debut this weekend Lacroix was quick to move up from the fifth spot on the grid, jumping into third place on the opening lap. "I was able to take advantage of some drivers that were very aggressive on the opening lap and pushed wide on the first few corners, " the St. Eustache, Quebec, resident explained. "The car was good but it just wasn't fast enough to get past the cars in front."

Rounding out the top six in today's 22-lap event were Michael Potekhen, of SIlverthorne, Colorado, crossing the line in fourth in the #53 Avenue Communities Apex Racing Mazda; Matt Varsha, from Atlanta, Georgia, would finish fifth in the #45 Jeff Haas Mazda prepared by Racers Edge Motorsports; Adrian Carrio, from Monument, Colorado, lined up second on the grid this afternoon but would finish sixth in his Rockford Fosgate World Speed Motorsport Mazda.

With two rounds complete of the 2006 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear Herrington sits atop the leaderboard with 80 points, Carrio holds second place with 67 points while Varsha and Potekhen are tied for third place with 66 points apiece. In the Expert Championship, for drivers aged 30-44, Brian Thienes won the class in his JDC Motorsports Mazda and sits in second place with 31 points to Gerardo Bonilla who remains in first with 32 points, Dan Tomlin III and Phil Fogg Jr are tied for third with 30 points each. In the Masters Championship for drivers aged 45 and older, APex Racing driver Ken Losch captured the victory to move into second place with 31 points. John Pew holds onto first place with 32 points while Jay Poscente and Doug Peterson are tied for third with 26 points each.

-starmazda

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Dan Tomlin III , Ryan Justice , Michael Potekhen , John Pew , Adrian Carrio , Kevin Lacroix , Daniel Herrington , Jay Poscente , Ken Losch , Brian Thienes , Matt Varsha , Gerardo Bonilla , Doug Peterson , Phil Fogg