QUEBEC RACER MIKAEL GRENIER WINS STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP POLE FOR THE 'NIGHT BEFORE THE 500' AT O'REILLY RACEWAY PARK O'Reilly Raceway Park / Saturday, May 29 -- Quebec racer Mikael Grenier qualified on the pole for tonight's Round 4 of the 2010...
QUEBEC RACER MIKAEL GRENIER WINS STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP POLE FOR THE 'NIGHT BEFORE THE 500' AT O'REILLY RACEWAY PARK
O'Reilly Raceway Park / Saturday, May 29 -- Quebec racer Mikael Grenier qualified on the pole for tonight's Round 4 of the 2010 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear -- the [IMAGE]'Night Before the 500 at O'Reilly Raceway Park - with a lap of 20.665 sec. (119.356 mph) in his #17 Andersen Racing / Slow Cow / April Super Flow / NAPA Auto Parts / HS Telecom / Desharnais Mazda. It's an achievement made all the more remarkable by the fact that the entire 13-car field qualified within half a second of each other.
The 125-lap, 45-minute race is scheduled to take the green flag at 8:10 pm ET and the event will be live on streaming video available at IndyCar.com, StarMazda.com and USF2000.com. This race is particularly significant as a major element of the new Indy Racing League 'Road to Indy' program; top series officials from the Speedway will be in attendance, and the winner will be interviewed in Victory Lane at the Speedway between 11-and 12 Noon Sunday, prior to the start of the Indy 500.
"We've been running second to fourth in practice and were making good adjustments to the car and knew that we had a good car for qualifying," said Grenier, who is third in the championship battle coming off a podium finish in Round 3 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last weekend. "It's really good to be on the pole here and I'm comfortable to have an experienced guy like Conor Daly next to me for the start. There will be a big crowd here tonight, and a lot of people from the IRL because of the Road to Indy program, and a lot of my sponsors. So tonight my plan is to really focus on being smooth and not making any mistakes. The Andersen Racing team has given me a very good car and now it's up to me."
Starting second will be the current championship points leader and Indianapolis native Conor Daly, who turned a lap of 20.693 in the #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. / Tom Lange Co. Mazda. Daly, having won the last two races in a row, from the pole, will provide Grenier with formidable competition.
Starting on the inside of the second row is Joao Victor Horto, a Formula BMW graduate who scored a podium finish in Round 2 at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and is 7th in the championship. Fourth on the grid is Connor De Phillippi of San Clemente, California, the 2009 Skip Barber Pro Series champion who is racing in Star Mazda courtesy of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder. He turned a lap of 20.828 sec. (118.571) in the #11 JDC Motorsports / MAZDASPEED Motorsports / Skip Barber Mazda.
And rounding out the top-5 is Texan Rusty Mitchell, who turned a lap of 20.983 sec. (118.571 mph) in the #66 Mitchell Motorsports / Motorola / Petro Comm Mazda. In the first three races of this season, he has scored two top-10s and is 9th in the championship with 79 points.