Top-10 Finishes Go Up in Brake Smoke For Rusty Mitchell; Strong in qualifying but double-bad luck come race time (Joliet, IL) 29 July, 2009--Riding the wave of two consecutive career-best finishes in oval competition, Rusty Mitchell was...
Top-10 Finishes Go Up in Brake Smoke For Rusty Mitchell; Strong in qualifying but double-bad luck come race time
(Joliet, IL) 29 July, 2009--Riding the wave of two consecutive career-best finishes in oval competition, Rusty Mitchell was looking to keep the momentum going this weekend at the Harrah's Grand Prix presented by Mazda as he returned to road racing for rounds eight and nine of the 2009 Star Mazda presented by Goodyear Championship. But despite some fast times in practice and strong performances in qualifying, his Autobahn debut weekend didn't create the hoped-for results.
Mitchell set the eighth quickest time in the opening practice, and then went even better with his run to fifth in the second practice session on Friday, raising hopes for the weekend. His performance was strong again in qualifying as the track dried out following a slow start to the session and he scored eleventh on the grid.
He moved up to the top ten in the first race of the weekend but with just two laps to go, Mitchell's bid for a Top-10 finish ended in puff of smoke just shy of the finish line. Following a full course caution on lap 14 of 18 run, the field was released for a green, white, checkered flag-run, and Mitchell, 18, of Midland, Texas, driving the number 66 Motorola Mitchell Motorsports entry was looking to seize on the error of a car ahead on the last lap to move up to at least ninth place.
Unfortunately with only corners remaining to the finish, the rear brakes locked, sending the car into a spin. He was finally classified in 18th position.
"I was fighting a bit of understeer early in the race, but it seemed to be improving as the race went on," said Mitchell. "After the caution, the car felt much better and then coming into one of the last corners on the last lap, I went to the brakes and the rears just locked up. I don't know if it was my error, or not, but in the end it doesn't really matter," explained Mitchell with disappointment. "We have another qualifying for the race tomorrow, later today, so we'll look at trying to resolve the understeer and perhaps get a bit more aggressive with the qualifying set to start tomorrow further up the field."
In race two, Mitchell started from seventh on the grid after race one showed that qualifying and track position were going to be key. Mitchell held on to the spot through the standing start of the event, which was carried live on HDNet. With the top three checking out up front, Mitchell's Motorola Mazda was looking on-track for a return to the top ten, but late in the race, a quick spin while trying to make it up in to the top five saw Mitchell forced to take 14th at the finish.
"It was good to get back to road racing again and I was really happy about the car and how well we ran most of the weekend, but we just had a couple of problems late in both races so that was pretty frustrating," said Mitchell. "But I feel like we were strong and that the testing we did paid off with how quick we were. The guys worked really hard and the car was good, it just didn't get us the results we were looking to be on track for unfortunately. Hopefully we can make up for it at Trois Rivieres."