TWO TOP FIVE FINISHES FOR JWR DRIVERS AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE TRAFFORD, PA (June 5, 2006) -- The tricky oval at the Milwaukee Mile presented unique challenges for the STAR Mazda Championship contenders with the historic venue being the only...
TWO TOP FIVE FINISHES FOR JWR DRIVERS AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE
TRAFFORD, PA (June 5, 2006) -- The tricky oval at the Milwaukee Mile presented unique challenges for the STAR Mazda Championship contenders with the historic venue being the only oval on the schedule. However, the John Walko Racing team responded once again, placing two drivers in the top five and all three drivers in the top fifteen.
Series Rookie Charles Anti made the most of his first ever oval track experience, fighting back to a fifteenth place finish in the 100 lap race despite falling deep in the field on the opening laps. The race was the culmination of a solid weekend for Anti where he improved his lap times in every session through qualifying.
"The car was great. I probably could have run a little bit harder but I was consistent which is what we have been lacking. We met our goals and ran a clean race so it was a good weekend."
Team owner John Walko agreed, "This was a great event for Charles. He and his crew have been working on consistency and communication at each test and race and the result was evident at Milwaukee."
Walko's second rookie driver also had a successful outing. Canadian Kevin Lacroix placed fifth in his first oval race, earning his third top five finish in as many tries. Lacroix enjoyed his first trip to Milwaukee, consistently running at the front of the pack throughout the event.
"It was a great experience for me. The car was good but it was slippery when you couldn't get air to the wings running behind someone. I did the fastest lap in the last practice session and I was in the top five at all times. It was fun."
Lacroix's finish enabled him to move in to sixth in the Championship standings despite missing one of only four races to date this season.
"Now we are up to sixth in points. That is not bad with eight races to go!"
Typically, Ross Smith is at the controls of the third JWR entry. However, an illness that curtailed his Milwaukee testing schedule the previous week sidelined him for the race as well. With the car and crew already at the race track, it was decided that the Maxwell Paper Products car would still run.
According to Walko, he knew just who to call when the news came in that his veteran driver was unable to race.
"It was unfortunate that Ross was unable to race as he has worked hard and was solidly in the top ten in points. We knew who to call though that would represent Ross and his family well in this event. Robbie Pecorari has had a long relationship with many members of our team including myself. We knew that he would not only be quick but he would bring the car home in one piece."
Pecorari is no stranger to the STAR Mazda cars, finishing second in the points last season on the strength of three wins. He quickly reacclimated himself and was near the top of the charts from the first day of practice. After qualifying second, less than .1 seconds from the Pole, he felt right at home.
"I've worked with most of the people on this team since I first started racing cars. I knew they'd have a good set up for Milwaukee and we'd have a chance to be competitive."
The result was a third place finish for Pecorari and John Walko Racing, the team's third podium finish in four races this season.
"I just want to thank the Smith family for the opportunity as well as my friends at John Walko Racing. Ross and the crew did all the work leading up to this point and deserve credit for a great race car. I'm glad I was able to bring them a good result."
The next stop on the schedule for the John Walko Racing team is the fifth event of the season in Montreal, Canada. The STAR Mazda Championship Series will run in conjunction with the Formula One Grand Prix of Canada.