Road Atlanta: Series 13 finale preview

THREE BIG BATTLES YET TO BE WON AS THE STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP CONCLUDES ITS 20TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON THIS WEEKEND AT THE 13TH ANNUAL PETIT LE MANS AT ROAD ATLANTA Still up for grabs are the prestigious 'Rookie of the Year' title, the Team ...

THREE BIG BATTLES YET TO BE WON AS THE STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP CONCLUDES ITS 20TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON THIS WEEKEND AT THE 13TH ANNUAL PETIT LE MANS AT ROAD ATLANTA

Still up for grabs are the prestigious 'Rookie of the Year' title, the Team Championship and the first annual VISITFLORIDA Cup sponsored by the state's official tourism and marketing corporation

Road Atlanta / Sept. 29, 2010 -- Even with three championships already decided, there are still three major battles yet to be won as the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear concludes its 20th anniversary season at this weekend's 13th annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. And all the action will be broadcast to more than 150 million homes worldwide, courtesy of VISITFLORIDA, the official tourism and marketing corporation of the state of Florida.

Conor Daly, the 18 year-old son of racing legend Derek Daly, clinched the 2010 Star Mazda Championship in Round 12 at Mosport with his seventh win -- and record-setting 9th pole -- of the season racing the #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. Mazda. His prizes, to be awarded at the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder Awards Dinner at Chateau 0x00c9lan on Friday evening, include $100,000 in cash and a Mazda-sponsored season of racing in an RX-8 competing in the 2011 Grand-Am GT1 class.

In addition, the owner of a computer services company and an investment banker are among the champions competing in the Star Mazda race this weekend... and they're both from the same team. Texan J.W. Roberts won the Expert Series (drivers 30 -- 44 years old) with eight in-class wins driving the #65 Team GDT / General Data Tech Mazda. His teammate, Carlos Conde, an investment banker from San Juan, Puerto Rico, won the Master Series (drivers 45 and older) with six in-class victories driving the #31 Team GDT / Pronto-GMT / Olympus Securities Mazda.

Battles yet to be won include 'Rookie of the Year,' the Team Championship and the first annual VISITFLORIDA Cup. Given that the Star Mazda Championship is a training series, the percentage of rookies is always high and the battle for 'Rookie of the Year' honors is invariably intense. Three drivers remain in contention, including California racer Connor De Phillippi (currently 4th in the overall championship and thus leading the rookie points) in the #11 JDC Motorsports / MAZDASPEED Motorsports / Skip Barber Mazda; Frenchman Tristan Vautier (tied for 5th in the championship with two race wins) in the #38 Andersen Racing / Moulin TP / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais / Fontanel Mazda; and Brazilian rookie Joao Victor Horto (currently 7th in the championship with four podium finishes), driving the #18 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments / BomBril-Programa LeiLoes Mazda.

The VISITFLORIDA Cup is a 7-race championship-within-a-championship sponsored by the state's official tourism marketing corporation and sponsor of the 2010 Star Mazda Championship television package, syndicated to 155 million homes worldwide. Five drivers are still in the running for the grand prize, custom-designed dream vacation in Florida courtesy of VISITFLORIDA. Contenders include Conor Daly, Norwegian racer Anders 'The Viking' Krohn (currently 2nd in the championship driving the #47 Andersen Racing / Norse Cutting & Abandonment / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda), Tristan Vautier, Brazilian racer Caio Lara (8th in the championship with one win in his #19 JDC Motorsports / MLD / ATW / Molecule Mazda) and Quebec racer Mikael Grenier (#17 Andersen Racing / Slow Cow / April Super Flow / NAPA Auto Parts / HS Telecom / Desharnais Mazda, also with one win , two poles and 6th in the championship). To find out where and when Star Mazda Championship races are being broadcast, go to www.StarMazda.com > TV INFO, or visit www.MazdaRacing.tv.

The Team Championship is also the object of a pitched battle; a David and Goliath affair between Andersen Racing, one of the largest and most influential teams in the series, and Juncos Racing, which burst on the scene in 2009, winning four races in their rookie season with Irish racer Peter Dempsey and following it up by winning the 2010 championship with Conor Daly.

Andersen Racing, which also owns the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda and fields a 2-car Indy Lights team, has scored three wins this season, two by Tristan Vautier and one by Mikael Grenier. Juncos Racing has scored seven wins with Daly, but the team championship is decided by the points scored by the two team cars that finish best in each race; both Andersen and Juncos are multi-car teams, with Andersen fielding four and Juncos three. Andersen Racing, the Team Championship winners in 2008, is currently leading with 312 points, and Juncos Racing has 298 points. In team competition there is a maximum of 36 points available if a team goes 1-2 in the results so there are a lot of variables in play at Road Atlanta... and a lot at stake for both teams in terms of recruiting top drivers for the 2011 season.

Two separate but complimentary driver development programs are designed to benefit the careers of the young drivers from ten countries who competed in the 2010 Star Mazda Championship; the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder and the IndyCar 'Road to Indy' program. The MAZDASPEED Ladder is the only automaker-supported motorsports scholarship program that provides funding for champions to move up to the next-higher class. The Ladder reaches from entry-level karting through the Skip Barber Pro Series, USF2000 Championship and Star Mazda to the top levels of the sport. The IndyCar 'Road to Indy' program includes USF2000, Star Mazda and Indy Lights, providing a clearly-defined path for young open-wheel drivers whose goal is to race in IndyCar and the Indy 500.J When all the smoke, both literal and figurative, clears at the track, prizes valued in excess of $1.5 million will be given to drivers Friday evening at the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder Awards Dinner at the Chateau 0x00c9lan beginning at 7:00 pm. Series champion Conor Daly gets a Mazda-sponsored drive valued at $750,000 in the 2011 Grand-Am series, racing an RX-8 in the GT1 class, as well as a $100,000 cash prize. The top-15 drivers divide $500,000 in cash and Rookie of the Year gets $10,000. Prize money is paid down to 15th place in the points, with cash awards also going to the top-3 in the Team Championship. Also part of the awards program will be drivers and awards from the other MAZDASPEED Ladder series, including the Skip Barber Nationals Presented by Mazda and the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda.

On-track action at Road Atlanta begins with practice sessions on Tuesday, Sept. 28 and continue throughout the week. Qualifying for the race takes place from 1:40 pm to 2:15 pm Thursday, Sept. 30 with 45-minute race getting the green light at 11:55 am Friday, October 1.

-source: star mazda

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Skip Barber , Derek Daly , J.W. Roberts , Mikael Grenier , Caio Lara , Peter Dempsey , Carlos Conde , Tristan Vautier , Conor Daly , Joao Victor Horto
Teams Juncos Racing