Road Atlanta: Hearn Motorsports preview

Hearn Motorsports Shows Founding Principles are Strong BRASELTON, Ga., April 13, 2005 Hearn Motorsports launched its 2005 Star -- Mazda Series North American Championship season in convincing style at Sebring International Raceway in March...

Hearn Motorsports Shows Founding Principles are Strong

BRASELTON, Ga., April 13, 2005 Hearn Motorsports launched its 2005 Star -- Mazda Series North American Championship season in convincing style at Sebring International Raceway in March taking third and fourth on the grid and second in the race. They enter the second race of the year, the Grand Prix of Atlanta, this weekend with two cars capable of podium performances and a team owner who was recently announced to compete in a top-flight effort at the Indianapolis 500. All of this is no surprise to longtime watchers of team owner Richie Hearn (Henderson, Nev.) and his racing exploits.

When Hearn announced his Star Mazda team at Sebring, 2004, he indicated that it was with an eye towards the future for himself and up-and-coming drivers. He also let it be known he was not hanging-up his helmet. These two things have become crystal-clear as Hearn's team, running three cars for the first time at Sebring, took second, 11th and 13th at the finish. A week later, Sam Schmidt Motorsports announced Hearn as the driver of the No. 70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Special Panoz/Chevrolet at next month's Indy 500. What has also become clear is that Hearn has put together a winning-effort that can operate successfully under a variety of conditions.

For Road Atlanta, the Las Vegas-based team has entered Sebring runner-up Matt Jaskol (Las Vegas, Nev.) as driver of the No. 70 Hearn Motorsports Star Mazda. Jaskol was immediately fast in his debut for Hearn and was closing on the leader when the checkered flag flew at Sebring. Brian Thienes (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who has been impressive since joining the Hearn organization last season, will team with Jaskol driving the red and white No. 77 Thienes Engineering Mazda in Saturday's 45-minute race. Thienes is considered a leading contender for this year's Expert Series championship after finishing third in 2004.

While Hearn will be on site for the race, the Grand Prix of Atlanta will act as a test of the procedures that he has put into place to guarantee that the team operates at the same high-level without his constant presence. Though much of Hearn's attentions will be focused on winning his first Indianapolis 500, he will continue to manage and direct the day-to-day operations of his second-year Star Mazda effort.

Practice for the Star Mazda Series will begin on Friday, April 15th. Qualifying and the 45-minute race will run on Saturday, April 16th. The green flag will fall at 12:40 pm (ET) at the Braselton, Ga. track.

Richie Hearn:

about this weekend: "Hopefully we continue with where we finished at Sebring. I think we had the best car at Sebring and not qualifying [due to rain] hurt us. By starting on the second row, the second-place car was able to block Matt and that put us out of reach for the win. Assuming the weather is good and we get to qualifying, I think Road Atlanta will give us a chance to show what Matt and Brian can do. Our goal with Matt is to win the pole and the race and we want to qualify Brian in the top-10 and have him finish in the top-10. If we can do that, then we will have accomplished our goal for Road Atlanta."

about the Month of May: "We have Mid-Ohio during that time. It really depends how we qualify on the first weekend at Indy whether I can get to the Mid-Ohio race. Since we know it in advance, the team can prepare for me not being there at all... just in case. We have great people at Hearn Motorsports and everyone knows their job. The tough part is that I am the only one qualified to coach the drivers. We will be taking it as it comes. My Dad will be in control of the managerial stuff at the track. Darrell (Soppe, engineer) will take care of the technical side of it. It has been our goal to move Troy (Benner) into more of a team manager-role and this gives us a good chance to do that. I'm not too worried. I will keep all of this in mind this weekend at Atlanta and see where we might be missing. We'll do a test run here almost like I wasn't at this race. It'll be the first time I won't be in control and that should probably make me more nervous than I am. But, we have a good group of guys here so I am pretty confident in what we can do."

-hm-

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About this article
Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Richie Hearn , Sam Schmidt , Matt Jaskol