Moses Smith headed to Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca for the third round of the North American Championship. Normally a support event for the American Le Mans Series, this weekend the Series would be supporting the CART Championship. This would...
Moses Smith headed to Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca for the third round of the North American Championship. Normally a support event for the American Le Mans Series, this weekend the Series would be supporting the CART Championship. This would allow Moses and the thirty six other competitors a chance to showcase their talent in front of new teams and be exposed to a new demographic. "It has always been a goal of mine to race Champ cars, so I am very excited to be here with the CART Championship," stated Moses.
Although being exposed to the CART weekend has its obvious benefits, one of the down sides is the limited track time. The schedule would only allow three sessions during the weekend. These sessions would give competitors one practice session, one qualifying session, and the race. This is a third of the track time normally allotted at other events. When asked about the limited track time, Moses comments, "Although it would be ideal to have a couple more sessions, we are all dealing with the same amount of track time, so I really don't see it as a problem." This attitude is what helped Moses score fast time on the first and only practice session of the weekend.
As the teams prepared for the qualifying session, there was a lot of debate over the new tires that was introduced for this event. Although the old style tires were still legal for this weekend, they were not available. The question was, "Do we go out on sticker tires or scrubbed tires?" It seemed as though half the field went out on new and the other half went out on scrubs. "I chose to go out on a scrubbed tire, in hope that it would come up to grip quicker," commented Moses.
During qualifying, Moses posted the eighth fastest time. This was a little disappointing to Moses and his Team Tomlin crew. When asked if Moses thought it was his tire choice, he only said, "I am not sure if it was the tires or not. We just did not have the qualifying session we wanted, but it is a long race, and I think we have a good race car."
This eighth place position would put Moses on the outside fourth row. "Laguna Seca is the only place that I can think of, where starting on the outside can be a good thing. There is a lot of room and grip through turn two (first turn after the start and finish line), even on the outside."
Although Moses was confident about the outside of turn two, he would not be able to apply this theory. At the drop of the green flag, the drivers in the rows ahead of Moses fanned out making it three wide into turn two. The only place to go was right down the middle, making it four wide on the entry to turn two. Moses was right in the middle. By the time the field had reached turn four, everyone in the top ten had found their spot. Moses had made up three spots, landing him in fifth place. Before the only full course yellow of the race, on lap twelve, Moses had moved up two more positions, finding himself in third. Although the green flag had come out with ten laps to go, the top three positions would remain the same. Moses would find himself in the third spot on the podium. When questioned if Moses could have passed for second place, he explained, "Well, I needed to look at this from a championship standpoint. The driver that finished second was not entered in the series, therefore I would have had to pass him, and then pass the leader before I would have scored any more points. I did not want to put myself in a position that could have jeopardized the position I was already in. I may have finished third on track, but I scored second place points. I am very happy with my finish."
The Star Mazda Series allows competitors to compete in the series, without joining the championship points. This allows more competitors per event, and also adds the need for teams to work on championship strategies. Moses made a mature decision and showed that he and his team, Team Tomlin, are well in tune with what it takes to win a championship.
Moses wanted to thank Team Tomlin, Hasa Pool Products, and two new sponsors, RLV Tuned Exhaust, and Mothers Car Polish, Waxes and Cleaners.
For more information and pictures of the event, visit www.mosessmith.com.