Road Atlanta: Moses Smith race summary

Moses Smith takes win at Road Atlanta. As I drove in from the airport, there was definitely something profound and pressing in the Atlanta air. Instinctively, I knew that it was more than the heavy dew rendering the windshield of my rental ...

Moses Smith takes win at Road Atlanta.

As I drove in from the airport, there was definitely something profound and pressing in the Atlanta air. Instinctively, I knew that it was more than the heavy dew rendering the windshield of my rental impossible to see through. That grimy smear proved to be an adequate precursor to the moral you can't always see what is ahead of you.

Star Mazda has been specifically engineered to showcase a driver's skill divergent to the team's race budget. This circuit utilizes only one engine builder and the racecars are allowed only minor alterations. Driver aptitude becomes the key that unlocks championship titles.

Numerous racing organizations, involved in career enhancement programs, recognize the driver development potential of this series. This connection has made the Star Mazda series a place to watch for the "stars" of the future.

The two frontrunners of the 2002 season have amplified that philosophy. Guy Cosmo and Moses Smith entered the season finale at Road Atlanta with high hopes of continuing their first-rate performance. After a season of sharing the limelight, a mere seventeen points separated them from their championship aspirations.

After eight of the nine scheduled races, Guy's tally board included two poles; four wins; and two third-place finishes. Moses, who was on the downside of that seventeen point deficit, could boast of three poles; three wins; and two-second place finishes.

However, if these athletes were planning on a calm culmination of their points battle, nothing could have been further from reality. Thirty-seven participants arrived to bare witness to the end of 2002 Star Mazda season in Atlanta, Georgia. As expected, Moses and Cosmo were in the top five for most of the practice sessions. What was not anticipated however was the positions they would qualified in.

Moses had some tough luck. As he explained it, "I was just finishing my warm-up laps, and my battery died. I was not even able to put in a really hard lap." Moses started the race in eighteen place. While that was not good news, Cosmo suffered a tremendous blow. Before completing his first qualifying lap, he contacted with the wall. His starting grid position was set at thirty-third. One thing was clear; both these young men had a chore ahead of them.

"Talk about an emotional roller-coaster this weekend," Cosmo said after the twenty-four lap race. "Starting from the back, only to lose second gear with two laps to go . . . That was quite a ride."

Moses had quite the battle himself. Starting in eighteen, he was able to survive the first corner after the green flag in a great position. "I knew that I had to keep my head together and get to work." Moses explained after the race. "I needed to make steady progress."

Moses did just that and made his way through the field at a solid pace until he obtained second place. Then he confronted front-runner Luis Schiavo, side by side, for several laps before executing a pass at the back of the track in corner twelve.

However, Moses had to battle hard and long for the maneuver and the struggle took its toll on his #76 HASA Pool Products/R-Sport Red Mazda. Before taking the vehicle to tech, it was noticed that Moses' right rear tire was flat.

"After claiming the lead, " Moses narrated, "I noticed that something was going away in the car's handling. Then I saw a white flag and I prayed whatever it was would wait." As it turned out, the tire had a good sized gash in its side and deflated rapidly after the car stopped.

In the end, after another electrifying finish, a single point settled the championship. Despite wining his fourth race of the season, Moses Smith's championship dreams fell short by a single point, as Guy Cosmo was able to hold onto his points lead by finishing ninth.

However, Moses had nothing to hang his head about. He and his crew managed to slam a twenty-eight point gap down to one point by winning the last two races of the season. During this race, he managed that win from eighteenth position on the starting grid and in the process recorded "Fast Lap" of the race.

While no one could have foreseen the thrilling end to this competitive series, one thing was clear. Both Guy and Moses demonstrated the benefits of great sportsmanship and that "never ever give up" attitude despite the pitfalls they faced during the season. You can expect to see much more from Moses and Guy in racing's near future.

-starmazda-

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About this article
Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Guy Cosmo , Moses Smith