Mid-Ohio: Friday practice notes

Michael Potekhen returns to top of charts in final practice at Mid-Ohio May 19, 2006. Lexington, Ohio. Michael Potekhen, of Silverthorne, Colorado, returned to the top of the time sheets at Mid-Ohio, setting a fast lap of 1:20.207 (101.348 MPH)...

Michael Potekhen returns to top of charts in final practice at Mid-Ohio

May 19, 2006. Lexington, Ohio. Michael Potekhen, of Silverthorne, Colorado, returned to the top of the time sheets at Mid-Ohio, setting a fast lap of 1:20.207 (101.348 MPH) in the final practice session for Round Three of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, being held this weekend in conjunction with the American Le Mans Series at Mid Ohio. Potekhen, driving the #53 Apex Racing Avenue Communities Mazda, led the field of thirty-six cars during unofficial practice on Thursday and returned to the top this afternoon when conditions were much better than earlier in the day.

"It was nice to come out on top in both dry sessions so far this weekend," Potekhen, who enters the weekend tied for first place with Adrian Carrio, said. "I think our team has the upper hand this weekend as the test we did earlier this month has really helped us out. The track was still slippery as it hasn't been dry enough for the cars to lay down a lot of rubber, and with all the cars in the series it can be hard to get a clear lap, you might get one or two good laps and then the next two you would have to work through traffic so we are pleased to be out in front. Now our focus is on getting the pole position and the win tomorrow because I don't want to be tied for first place."

A host of drivers will look to knock Potekhen off the top of the leaderboard, starting with Ryan Justice, who posted the second fastest time of the day at 1:20.234 (101.314 MPH) in the #38 Northwest Autosport Mazda. Justice, from Portland, Oregon, comes into the weekend fresh off his pole position and victory last weekend on the temporary street circuit around Houston's Reliant Park. Gerardo Bonilla, the winner of the opening round of the season at Sebring International Raceway, clocked the third fastest time of the day around the 2.25-mile road circuit with a lap of 1:20.658 (100.781 MPH) in his #9 Carmela Sausages Andersen Racing Team Mazda.

Series rookie Kevin Lacroix, who finished second to Justice in his first Star Mazda event at Houston, guided his #74 Uni-Select Auto Parts John Walko Racing Mazda to the fourth fastest time of the afternoon at 1:20.957 (100.409 MPH), while American Speed Factory driver Jon Branam piloted his #12 3-Dimensional Services Mazda to a time of 1:20.973 (100.389 MPH) to complete the top five in an afternoon session run under overcast skies, a welcome relief from the wind and rain that the drivers battled in the opening practice session.

The series returns to the track for the single qualifying session of the weekend on Saturday, May 20th at 10:55 AM Eastern Time. Round Three of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is scheduled to get underway later in the day at 4:05 PM Eastern Time.

-smaz-

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Ryan Justice , Michael Potekhen , Adrian Carrio , Kevin Lacroix , Gerardo Bonilla