LAST TO FIRST -- WHITE WINS A WILD ONE AT ROAD AMERICA In a wild race that saw the first car to cross the finish line penalized and moved back to fourth, it was Ron White, who started last in his ...
LAST TO FIRST -- WHITE WINS A WILD ONE AT ROAD AMERICA
In a wild race that saw the first car to cross the finish line penalized and moved back to fourth, it was Ron White, who started last in his #69 Maxwell Racing / Maxwell Paper Products Mazda taking his first win of the year in Round Eight of the 2007 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. Finishing 2nd and extending his points lead was Dane Cameron in his #19 JDC Motorsports/Finlay Motorsports Mazda, followed -- after a bit of controversy -- by teammate Nick Haye making a great showing for his new sponsor with his first podium of the year in the #37 Quantum Sphere/JCD Motorsports Mazda
The race began with pole sitter Marco Di Leo, suffering from fuel pressure woes in his # 21 Maxwell Paper/Nugget Mazda, losing the lead to 2nd-place qualifier Australian James Davison in his #7 Easternats / Velocity Motorsports Mazda. Davison led most of the race but several overt blocking moves in the closing stages provoked series officials to penalize him three places, dropping him back to 4th. This handed the victory to White, who overcame a horrible start to the weekend in stellar fashion to score his first win of the season. White has scored two podiums and two top-5 finishes so far this season.
"We weren't able to qualify because of mechanical problems, so I had to start at the very back of the grid, which actually worked out quite well," said the native of Santa Clara, California. "The field spread out a bit back there and gave me some room to run hard and pass cars. I had to drive the wheels off the car, but I figured out some new racing lines about mid-way through the race that let me pick up about a second per lap, and that really helped get me to the front. I changed teams between the last race and this one, no hard feelings, just one of those racing things, and I'm really happy to be able to thank the Maxwell Paper Racing team with our first win of the season."
Star Mazda Championship points leader, and winner of three races so far this season, including Round Seven at Toronto, suffered through a difficult day of practice on Thursday and a miserable qualifying session that saw him start 8th on the grid. He moved up and down the order during the race like a yo-yo, finally making the pass for 2nd on the next to last lap. This is his third 2nd-place finish this year, in addition to three wins and four pole positions.
"How many places I lost was a function of traffic, yellow flags and the fact that, as the points leader I have a target on my back and pretty much everyone was trying to run me off the road," said the 18 year-old native of Sonoma, California. "How many places I gained is a function of what a great car the JDC Motorsports team gave me for the race. We had the fastest car out there, and if I didn't have to spend so much time dodging disaster, we'd have given Ron run for the front in the closing laps. That said, the mission this weekend, after winning, was to be smart, keep it on the road, finish the race and extend our points lead... which we did."
Third place was also a source of controversy, with one driver replacing another during the middle of the podium ceremony. Jonathan Goring raced his #14 Skip Barber Racing/Andersen Racing Mazda across the finish line in third place after a hard-fought pass for position... a pass that that officials ultimately determined was an infraction of the rules, resulting in a penalty moving him back to 24th.JJThe recipient of that pass, and the man ultimately replacing him in the middle of the 'hat dance' was 4th-place finisher Nick Haye, driver of the #37 Quantum Sphere/JCD Motorsports, who started the race from 9th on the grid. Haye has scored four top-10 finishes so far this season.
"It was wild, I was back in the paddock with my car surrounded by people and my team is telling me that I need to get over to the podium, that I'd finished third," said Haye. "I actually qualified quite well, but due to a penalty I incurred in Toronto they took away my best laps and I started ninth. The team gave me a great car and I'm really excited to score my first podium for my new sponsor Quantum Sphere. It was really aggressive out there, but I just love the track and it really suits my driving style."
Rounding out the top-5 were the aforementioned James Davison, finishing 4th for his fifth top-5 of the year, and another interesting story, Eric Freiberg in the #39 Northwest Autosport/EBI Medical Mazda.JFreiberg's normal car is the #3 CDE Collision Damage Experts/Northwest Autosport Mazda, but terminal mechanical problems shortly before the race looked to keep Freiberg out of the event... until his teammate, Steve Cook of New Orleans, LA, offered to sit out the race and put Freiberg in his #39 car... a gentlemanly gesture that worked out well for Freiberg and the Northwest team.
Also of note in the race, 3rd-place qualifier Natacha Gachnang of St. Gingolph, Switzerland got caught up in an on-track incident and though she was able to continue, finished 7th in her #35 AIM Autosport Mazda.JGachnang made Star Mazda series history with back-to-back podium finishes at Portland and Cleveland earlier in the season. Pole-sitter Di Leo soldiered on with a down-on power car to bring it home in 8th.
Finishing first in the Expert Series for drivers aged 30 -- 44, and 13th overall, was Richard Zober, driver of the #66 Zober Industries/Comprent Motorsports Mazda. Texan Steve Hickham won the Master Series for driver over 45 years of age with a 16th-place overall finish in the #17 HB Turbo/Hickham Motorsports Mazda.
-credit: star mazda