Portland Jeff Bucknum report

Bucknum takes third consecutive podium, while Ryley shows continued signs of speed at Portland Portland, Ore. (July 31, 1999) --- Jeff Bucknum, driving for World Speed Motorsports, captured his third consecutive podium and fifth of this ...

Bucknum takes third consecutive podium, while Ryley shows continued signs of speed at Portland

Portland, Ore. (July 31, 1999) --- Jeff Bucknum, driving for World Speed Motorsports, captured his third consecutive podium and fifth of this year's Star Mazda Series West Division Championship season by virtue of his third place finish today at Portland International Raceway, part of the American Le Mans Series professional sports car weekend.

While Bucknum started from the fourth spot, World Speed teammate and series newcomer Grant Ryley captured his second front-row starting spot of the season after qualifying second.

"Third place usually isn't a big reason to celebrate, but considering we've been plagued by some mysterious problems this weekend we feel pretty fortunate," said Bucknum, who maintains third overall in the Star Mazda Series West Division as well as the Best Western national championship series. "We rolled off the trailer on Friday and set our fastest time of the weekend. Every session we seemed to just get slower, while everyone else continued to find more speed. We couldn't figure out what was happening, so the crew decided to go through the whole car and see if we could find something wrong. There was nothing real noticeable, so we put everything back for the race. Fortunately, this was the best car I've had since the first session. It still wasn't any match for Joey (Hand, who won the race) or Tim (Enoch), but we managed to hang on and finish on the podium."

In the hunt for a podium finish for a good portion of the race, Ryley struggled with a loose handling car and some oil on the track that relegated the Saratoga, California, driver to a top ten result in the closing stages of the 45-minute race.

"It was a tough race for us today," said Ryley, who consistently ran in the top three during the weekend's practice and qualifying sessions in his first appearance at the Portland racetrack. "I missed second gear at the start and dropped a few places. I worked my way back up to fourth and was closing on Jeff, then looped it. Luckily, I only lost a few spots and started coming back toward the front. Somebody went off at the Festival Curves and brought out a full-course yellow. I got a good jump on the re-start and was running sixth until Sara (Senske) and I both hit some oil on the track. We both went off, lost a few positions and re-joined the race. By that time, the race was about over and we held on to end up in the top ten. It's certainly not where we had hoped to finish, but at least we know we have the speed to consistently run at the front."

Joining Bucknum and Ryley in the World Speed Motorsports Star Mazda stable are series' first-timers Pierre Ehret and Alex Figge as well as returning veterans Bryan Willman, Frank McCormick, and Ginni Swanton. The Star Mazda Series West Division Championship continues on August 15 at Thunderhill Raceway Park.

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Grant Ryley , Pierre Ehret , Alex Figge , Bryan Willman , Jeff Bucknum