Justice sets record to qualify out front at Mid Ohio May 20, 2006. Lexington, Ohio. Driving the ...
Justice sets record to qualify out front at Mid Ohio
May 20, 2006. Lexington, Ohio. Driving the #38 Northwest Autosport Mazda, Ryan Justice, of of Portland, Oregon, set a blistering pace around the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, lapping the 2.25-mile circuit in a record time of 1:18.300 (103.816 MPH) to capture the pole position for Round Three of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, being held in conjunction with the American Le Mans Series at Mid Ohio. Joining Justice on the front row for this afternoon's 30 lap race will be Jon Branam, of Miami Beach, Florida, who finished second in the session with a time of 1:19.376 (102.409 MPH) in the #12 American Speed Factory 3-Dimensional Services Mazda.
"The credit for this pole position should go to everyone on my crew because they continue to give me a great car every weekend," Justice, who earned his first series victory last weekend in Houston, said afterwards. "Though we weren't on top at the end of practice yesterday we knew we had a good car as I encountered traffic on my fast lap, which wasn't a bad thing as it allowed us to come into this session in a somewhat stealth mode. During my fast qualifying lap today I had to pass another car entering the Keyhole but otherwise the lap was perfect."
Branam, who will line up alongside Justice on the front row, was unable to mount a late session charge on pole position after a half shaft failure cut short his session. "Everyone at American Speed Factory is happy that we're starting up at the front and just a little disappointed that we didn't get a few more laps," Branam said. "I thought something broke in the gearbox at first and while I don't know if I would've had enough to catch Justice it would've been nice to try."
This morning's qualifying session, run under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low sixties, was a marked contrast from yesterday morning's practice session when temperatures never rose above 45 degrees and wind and rain swept across the circuit. Lap times plummeted as drivers were finally able to take full advantage of the recently repaved track with the top ten all lapping under the previous fast time of the weekend set by Michael Potekhen.
Lining up third after a solid qualifying session will be Matt Varsha, son of Speed Channel Broadcaster Bob Varsha, who clocked a time of 1:19.416 (102.357 MPH) in his #45 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda. Varsha, who is hunting for sponsorship so he can continue beyond this weekend, was happy with the result. "Starting up front will be a good thing as I am a better racer than qualifier," the Atlanta, Georgia, resident explained. "Hopefully we'll be able to outrace some of these drivers and get a strong result."
Justice's lap time of 1:18.300 breaks the existing track record of 1:18.503 set in 2005 by eventual series champion Raphael Matos.
Round Three of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is scheduled to roll off the grid this afternoon at 4:05 PM Eastern Time.