Andersen Racing's Kent and Dempsey Finish First and Third Saturday In Star Mazda Season Finale MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 18 - The final race of the 2008 season for the Star Mazda Series presented by Goodyear was a perfect start for Andersen ...
Andersen Racing's Kent and Dempsey Finish First and Third Saturday In Star Mazda Season Finale
MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 18 - The final race of the 2008 season for the Star Mazda Series presented by Goodyear was a perfect start for Andersen Racing newcomer Richard Kent, who led every lap Saturday afternoon at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca after winning the pole with a new track record Saturday morning.
Peter Dempsey started second, set the fastest lap of the race and finished third, securing third place in the drivers' championship for the Palmetto, Fla.-based team that had already sewed up the series' team championship before it even unloaded here.
The third Andersen Racing driver in the race, Jonny Baker, was treated and then released from the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in Monterey after crashing in Turn 9 working lap 12 of the 45-minute/26-lap race around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course. He suffered a concussion and a sprained right hand in the crash.
The race was part of the Monterey Sports Car Championships American Le Mans Series weekend. Kent and Baker were substituting for Charles Hall and Tom Gladdis, respectively, who did not compete here due to financial difficulties. Hall ended up fifth in the final point standings and Gladdis was sixth.
Dempsey got the extra point awarded to the polesitter since Kent isn't registered to run for the championship. It was actually Kent's first Star Mazda race ever, since the 19-year-old from Clifton Reynes, England didn't start the Mosport round earlier this year as planned due to engine problems.
He certainly had no engine problems here at Laguna Seca this weekend, as his new track record of 1:19.935 and his dominate victory attest. Dempsey set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:21.135 on lap nine, but Kent had a 1:21.276 on lap eight with the No. 77, which is sponsored by Traka and Allied Interior Products. Neither had ever driven at this track before this event.
The race began under yellow and minus a standing start after Dave House crashed in Turn 6 on the pace lap. Things actually got underway on lap two, with the three Andersen cars in first (Kent), second (Dempsey) and fifth (Baker).
Alex Ardoin, who won this race last year, passed Baker for fifth on lap three. Baker went off course after a tussle with Ardoin on lap six to drop to 14th, but the young man from Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire, England who finished second to his Andersen Racing teammate, Anders Krohn, in the 2008 F2000 Championship Series kept on digging with the Allied Interior Products No. 5.
Up ahead Dempsey, of Ashbourne, County Meath, Ireland, had whittled Kent's lead to 0.435 of a second by lap 10 with his No. 21, which is sponsored by Quayside.ie, LotusWorks, Center Jewellers.ie, Motorsport Ireland, Allied Interior Products and Trojan Complete IT Solutions. The margin between them was 0.872 of a second on lap 12 when Baker crashed to bring out the second and final full-course yellow. He said a punctured tire might have been the cause of the crash, which occurred in a very high-speed portion of the track.
The green came out again on lap 16 with 15 minutes to go. John Edwards had to finish third or higher to win the championship and he stayed in that position until lap 22, when Dempsey went off course in Turn 6, which allowed Edwards to get the runner-up spot. Dempsey got back on course quickly and still finished third. At the checkered Kent had a 2.171-second lead over Edwards, while Edwards had a 0.385-second advantage over Dempsey. The interval between Dempsey and the fourth-place finisher, Joel Miller, was 2.770 seconds. Ardoin rounded out the top five.
Richard Kent: "The car was flawless; I'm so happy! I ran wide in Turn 5 once and Peter closed right up, but I kept my head down and kept working on it. Then with about 7 or 10 laps remaining Peter went off. There weren't many laps left, and the gap was staying the same so it worked out fine for me. I want to thank Remi Lanteigne and Chris Vallee and the whole team for giving me such a great car. And of course we have to thank Mazda, Goodyear and Allied too. The Goodyear tires were excellent; they stayed constant throughout the race."
Peter Dempsey: "My radio wasn't plugged in right before the race, and with the yellow at the start I didn't get a chance to get a run on him there. I had to just sit there and hope he'd make a mistake, but he didn't make a big enough one for me to get by. I tried to save my front tires and we had a slight understeer, and I just went off in Turn 6 and that's how Edwards got by. I went off in the gravel for about 400 feet and then came back on the track.
"I feel really bad for the team because I really wanted to win this race for them. But I have to thank everyone for a really good year. I especially want to thank Quayside.ie, LotusWorks, Center Jewellers.ie, Motorsport Ireland, Allied Interior Products and Trojan Complete IT Solutions. And of course Mazda and Goodyear, and everyone on the Andersen Racing team, especially Bob Markley, my engineer, and Peter Beck, my lead mechanic."
Jonny Baker: "I think I just hit my head in a strange way. I can remember going off, but not hitting the wall. I spent about two hours at the hospital and then they let me go. They say I have a concussion and a sprained hand. I'll be fine.
"It felt like I had a puncture. Maybe something broke, but I think it's more likely I went over debris or something and had a puncture.
"The car felt fine at the start of the race. Then I had an incident with Ardoin, and it was never the same from that point on. It had understeer and oversteer. Then I crashed, and that's about all I know."