TWO MORE STAR MAZDA TOP-10s FOR DE PHILLIPPI IN NEW JERSEY MAZDASPEED Motorsports-backed racer narrowly missed his first series podium finish with a fourth place in Round Six MILLVILLE, N.J. (June 30, 2010) - American open-wheel ...
TWO MORE STAR MAZDA TOP-10s FOR DE PHILLIPPI IN NEW JERSEY
MAZDASPEED Motorsports-backed racer narrowly missed his first series podium finish with a fourth place in Round Six
MILLVILLE, N.J. (June 30, 2010) - American open-wheel up-and-comer Connor De Phillippi further established himself as one of the most consistent front-runners in the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear this weekend (June 26-27), finishing fourth and eighth in Rounds Six and Seven at New Jersey Motorsports Park. The MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Driver as a result has never finished outside of the top-10 in his Star Mazda career thus far, and is currently third in the chase for Rookie of the Year honors.
Despite having impressed recently in the lone two oval outings on the Star Mazda Championship calendar, De Phillippi was looking forward to returning to a proper road course for Rounds Six and Seven. Given the highly-rated Californian was a two-time winner in his previous visit to the NJMP facility, winning both rounds of a Skip Barber National doubleheader, the JDC MotorSports racer had ever right to like his chances of challenging for top honors once again in the Garden state.
De Phillippi, returning to the cockpit of his No. 11 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Justice Brothers/Sparco/Rock View Farms/Oakley/Power Balance/Redline Athletics/Red Line Oil JDC MotorSports entry, was able to overcome the challenges of high heat and humidity in the two Thursday test sessions and the two Friday practice runs, cracking the top-10 in all four sessions. The teenager however realized that the key to good results would be the morning qualifying runs, as passing opportunities are limited on the 2.17-mile track.
While De Phillippi was among those battling for positions at the top of the timecharts during Saturday morning qualifying for Round Six, the combination of traffic and less than ideal grip levels prevented the reigning Skip Barber National series champion from posting his best time. De Phillippi as a result was seventh fastest when the checkered flag waved to end the session.
After a brief break to revitalize and go over any last minute changes to the car, it was time to go racing in New Jersey. Able to get away cleanly and avoid any potential first turn drama, De Phillippi initially held station in seventh place. A pair of subsequent restarts, following some contact by others drivers, gave the MAZDASPEED Motorsports-backed driver all the opportunity he required, jumping up to third by lap nine. De Phillippi proceeded to hold the podium position until the final lap, when the polesitter, having being penalized for jumping the start, found a way past. While disappointed to have narrowly lost his first Star Mazda podium result, De Phillippi took some solace in the fact that he had earned his fourth top-five result in six races.
Seeking to build on the strong run in race one of the doubleheader, De Phillippi entered qualifying for Round Seven on Sunday morning confident he could again battle for top honors. Luck was not on the Californian's side however, as traffic again prevented him from getting the desired time on the scoring charts. When the session ended, De Phillippi was a disappointed seventh fastest, placing him on row four for the traditional standing later in the day.
Unlike the opening race in the Garden state, race two featured little in the way of opportunities for drivers to advance up through the field. Involved in a multi-car fight for position throughout the 35-lap race, De Phillippi added another top-10 result at the stripe, giving him seven in seven races via an eighth place result.
"This weekend turned out to be another building weekend," commented De Phillippi. "Race one we caught a few breaks and nearly had a podium. The second day went a bit rough. Qualifying was not what we had hoped for, and made things really hard for us during the race. I was shuffled back in turns two & three, and wasn't able to fully recover. Overall it was another learning weekend. I'm looking forward to further testing in these next few weeks."
De Phillippi, who currently lies third in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear Rookie of the Year chase and sixth overall, will now have a break until July 31-August 1, when Rounds Eight and Nine will be contested at the Autobahn Country Club in Illinois.