"Welk Shows Speed in Star Mazda Debut" ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Steve Welk made his Star Mazda Championship debut this past weekend during the Generac Power Weekend at Road America. The Plymouth, Wis. resident was quick all weekend in his ...
"Welk Shows Speed in Star Mazda Debut"
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Steve Welk made his Star Mazda Championship debut this past weekend during the Generac Power Weekend at Road America. The Plymouth, Wis. resident was quick all weekend in his John Walko Racing prepared GBR Racing backed Star Mazda posting times in the top-five in almost every session. After posting the fifth best time in qualifying, Welk was running solidly in the top-10 just past the midway point of the race until he was hit off the track ending his day in the Road America gravel trap.
Welk's weekend started off as good as possible when the local driver posted the quickest lap in the first practice session of the weekend. The practice result was a bit misleading as he was one of the few drivers to post a time on a dry track before the rains came. The speed was not to be a fluke though as Welk ended the test day posting the fourth fastest time on after a dry afternoon session giving the GBR Racing driver a good bit of confidence heading into the Friday qualifying session.
Qualifying would prove to be somewhat bittersweet for the karting veteran. Improving on his speed from the previous day's testing session Welk would hold the pole position for most of the 22-minute qualifying session. Welk set a quick lap on his second circuit in the qualifying session before a slight error put the number 57 car into the gravel trap in turn one. The spin would prove costly for Welk as he did a slight bit of damage to the diffuser and the car would not be as quick the rest of the qualifying session. More importantly the Star Mazda Series would take away the GBR Racing driver's quick lap for causing a red in the session relegating Welk to 10th on the grid instead of the fifth place that his time was good for.
"The car was very good, I just made a slight mistake," Welk would say after qualifying. "I set my fast lap early in the session and I am sure that I could have been running for the pole if I didn't get a little greedy in turn-one after my quick lap."
The Star Mazda Championship race proved to be one of the most exciting of the weekend with action all over the 4-mile Road America circuit. After starting 10th Welk found himself running with the lead pack solidly in the top-10 when a full course caution was shown. After the restart the 24-year-old was able to avoid a multi car spin in turn-five to move into the fifth spot. Welk would settle into the eighth spot well within striking distance of a top-five finish. Going into turn-eight just past the races' halfway point Welk was unceremoniously removed from the track by a wayward opponent ending his day in the gravel trap with a bent left rear suspension.
The crash would not put a damper on what was a very positive weekend for Welk. After being out of a formula car since September, the Road America veteran was able to jump into a new car and be competitive with the very tough competition that is in the Star Mazda Championship.
"What a great weekend," Welk stated from the GBR Racing hospitality area after the race. "Sure it didn't end up the way we wanted but we were fast all weekend. I had a lot of family and friends at the track and I wish I could have given them a better show. We missed on the setup just a bit for the race, if it weren't for that I firmly believe I would have been challenging for the win instead of just a top five. I really have to thank everyone at John Walko Racing, they are a first class operation and a great group of guys to work with. I also have to thank Rick Krieger and GBR Racing, without Rick's help I would not have been in a racecar this weekend."
The Star Mazda Championship Series event from Road America will air on SPEED Channel August 18 at 2 o'clock central time. Steve Welk will return to the cockpit of his UEMSI Motorwerks Spec Miata for the SCCA National Championship Runoff's in mid October.