Road Atlanta: Team Bucknum race notes

Team Bucknum Impresses at Road Atlanta Jenkins Lead the Way Four Cars arrived at Road Atlanta in the Team Bucknum Transporters, ready to compete in the second round of the 2005 Star Mazda Championship. Scott Jenkins and Robbie Montinola were ...

Team Bucknum Impresses at Road Atlanta
Jenkins Lead the Way

Four Cars arrived at Road Atlanta in the Team Bucknum Transporters, ready to compete in the second round of the 2005 Star Mazda Championship. Scott Jenkins and Robbie Montinola were joined by newcomer Billy Johnson and series veteran Phil Fogg. It was a weekend of superb performances and some disappointments.

Jenkins waited until it counted to show his cards in qualifying. Scott caught everyone's attention as he shattered the lap record and secured pole position with a blistering 1:18.6. If that was not enough, he laid down three other laps that would have been pole times. A masterful performance indeed!

In fact each Team Bucknum driver secured their best times in qualifying, with Montinola lining up 15th, rookie Johnson in 18th and Fogg 22nd out of a total field of 42 cars. The Mazda field this year is the most competitive in series history and these are great performances.

The field was tight at the drop of the flag and Jenkins fell to third but remained close to the leader. Robbie Montinola moved up a few positions on lap one and looked to have a good race going before great misfortune came on lap two. On the backside of the course he was on the receiving end of contact by James Hinchcliffe and was put off course. The terrain upset the car and in a blink, Robbie's car was upside down and out of competition.

Meanwhile Jenkins was on the move and soon back in the lead, holding off Ryan Justice and Matt Jaskol. Rafael Matos, who had headed up every session prior to qualifying took a few laps to regain his form but soon was moving up to challenge the leaders.

Meanwhiile Billy Johnson was driving the most exciting and progressive race in the entire field. Billy was disappointed in his starting position which was effected by missing three practice sessions due to clutch replacement. He put his head down at the drop of the green and carved his was forward with aggressive but controlled moves.

With just a handful of laps remaining, Jenkins and Matos came upon lapped traffic and Jenkins was overcome by Matos, falling to the runner up position. His handling was going away and the last laps were spent defending his position from Matt Jaskol. Scott prevailed and finished a hard fought second place. Johnson meanwhile had gained a top ten position approaching the checkered and made a daring pass attempt on Graham Rahal at the finish, missing by a mere eyelash.

Phil Fogg also ran a terrific race, finishing 19th, and is poised to be ready for upcoming races including the Montreal Formula One weekend in June.

"I am very proud of our drivers' performances this weekend," stated team co-owner Jeff Bucknum. "Scott really rose to the occasion both during qualifying and the race to get a terrific result. He moved from eighth in points to third. I like to see those kind of results. I am also really proud of Billy Johnson. He impressed me from the moment I saw his first session. With no previous seat time in this car he proved he is a driver and he has the ability to challenge for wins this year. Robbie had a good weekend going also but was on the receiving end of a punt that ended his day early. I feel bad for him and know what he feels like. (Bucknum received a similar hit during the ALMS event on Sunday which later caused a big off and early departure). Phil did a great job also and I see his results just getting better."

"I also have to commend our engineering staff this weekend. Pete Mercier, with a big assist from Pierre Phillips, were masterful in providing all four drivers with cars well suited for this track. When the chips are counted, which is qualifying and the race, the cars were spot on. They used all the data from each session and, when the time came, the cars performed flawlessly. My thanks to the entire crew of Team Bucknum Racing."

The next Team Bucknum event is Mid-Ohio on the weekend of May 21. Testing is planned in the near future and drivers interesting in testing or competing with Team Bucknum Racing should contact as soon as possible.

-tb-

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About this article
Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Graham Rahal , Jeff Bucknum , Ryan Justice , Billy Johnson , James Hinchcliffe , Matt Jaskol , Phil Fogg , Robbie Montinola