Joel Miller wins pole for Star Mazda Race 1 at Miller Motorsports Park Saturday, September 13, 2008 / New Jersey Motorsports Park -- Joel Miller, who earned the nickname "the Rocket Rookie" with his dominant win from the pole in the Star Mazda...
Joel Miller wins pole for Star Mazda Race 1 at Miller Motorsports Park
Saturday, September 13, 2008 / New Jersey Motorsports Park -- Joel Miller, who earned the nickname "the Rocket Rookie" with his dominant win from the pole in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear season-opener at Sebring, re-staked his claim to his early-season nickname with a dramatic next-to-the-last-lap performance in qualifying.JFinding half a second in the closing minutes, Miller -- who currently leads the championship battle -- put the #20 #20 JDC Motorsports / Mazda / K&N Air Filters Mazda on the pole for this afternoon's Race 1/Round 9 at New Jersey Motorsports Park with a lap of 1:15.677 (103.561 mph).
"I knew there were about three minutes in the session and the conditions were right for me to try a real flier," said the 20 year-old from Hesperia, California. "There were fewer cars on the track, so most of the dust had been blown off and there was a clean, fast line developing.JAnd I'd had a chance to cool my tires off for a few laps, so I just put my foot down and went for it. The JDC Motorsports team gave me a great car and I'm really happy to be able to give them the pole here."
Starting next to Miller on the front row for this afternoon's race will be fellow American John Edwards, with a lap of 1:15.940 (103.203 mph) in the #7 AIM Autosport Mazda. Edwards won round two, at Miller Motorsports Park, also from the pole and also in his first-ever Star Mazda Championship race. Edwards is fifth in the championship. Guaranteeing that the first turn and the opening laps will be both interesting and fraught, qualifying third was Irishman Peter Dempsey, who won the last three races in a row and currently sits second in the championship. His lap of 1:16.401 (102.580 mph) in the #21 Andersen Racing / LotusWorks / Allied Building Products Mazda puts him on the inside of the second row, right behind Miller.
Rounding out the top 5 are Alex Ardoin, a second-year Star Mazda Championship racer who won the season closer of 2007 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and placed fourth in the championship. His lap of 1:16.966 (101.827) puts him fourth on the grid. Ardoin, from Lafayette, Louisiana, has had a spate of bad luck this season, and today was no execption. With five minutes to go in the qualifying session, Ardoin pulled out of his pit box intending to put in a couple of fliers before the checkered, and his engine quit running ten feet down pit lane, followed immediately by a puddle of oil leaking from beneath the car.JThe Mundill team will be put to the test in getting his #51 Mundill Racing / Oral & Facial Surgery Center / Twister Trailer Mazda ready in time for the race, just an hour and a half away.
Starting fifth is another interesting story, a Finnish driver named Valle M0x00e4kel0x00e4, making his first start in the Star Mazda Championship. Driving the #31 Andersen Racing / Amitec / Allied Building Products, the native of Laitila, Finland, turned an impressive lap of 1:17.015 (101.762 mph).
The quickest Expert Series driver in qualifying was Vancouver native Chris Cumming. Driving the #166 World Speed Motorsports / Inviro Medical Mazda, he turned a 1:17.950 (100.541 mph), good for the 10th starting spot on the grid. Cumming leads the Expert Series championship battle with six class wins so far this season. Master Series racer (and championship leader with five class wins) Chuck Hulse will start 17to on the 23 car grid for this afternoon's race with a lap of 1:18.998 (99.708 mph) in the #12 JDC Motorsports / Silicon Salvage Mazda.
The green flag for Race 1 / Round 9 of the 2008 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear will wave at 3:30 pm Saturday afternoon. The Sunday schedule is slightly more benevolent, with the 45-minute qualifying session taking place from 9:20 am to 10:05 am and the race scheduled to start at 2:15 pm Sunday, September 14.
Race 1 / Round 9 will air on SPEED TV Sunday, October 5 at 2:00 pm (ET), while Race 2 / Round 10 will be broadcast Sunday, October 12 at 1:00 pm (ET).