Rusty Mitchell Strong in Oval Action Once Again at Iowa; Improves career-best result to 4th after moving up in the race (Newton, IA) 15 July, 2009--After scoring a career-best Star Mazda Championship result with his run to sixth at the Milwaukee...
Rusty Mitchell Strong in Oval Action Once Again at Iowa; Improves career-best result to 4th after moving up in the race
(Newton, IA) 15 July, 2009--After scoring a career-best Star Mazda Championship result with his run to sixth at the Milwaukee Mile in the Motorola Mazda machine, Rusty Mitchell went even better in this weekend's Pizza Ranch 100 to score fourth in round 7 of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear.
Mitchell, of Midland, Texas, had previous experience on the track as part of the Star Mazda Series official test in May. He put that seat time to quick use this weekend, posting the second fastest time in the second practice session before moving to take sixth in qualifying on the ultra-quick oval.
"We were hoping to get a little more out of qualifying, but we were just a touch more aggressive with our aero changes than we needed to be," said Mitchell, who was making just his second career start on a paved oval. "But I knew we had a strong car and it was just going to be a question of staying out of trouble early on."
Mitchell was right to expect that keeping his nose clean was going to be key. He had witnessed from close quarters a first-lap crash among the front runners at Milwaukee, and the opening stages of the Iowa event also saw drivers looking to make too much happen too quickly as the accordion effect caught several racers out. But the Texan and his spotter were able to get off to a clean start of the nearly one-hour race, which was the headline event on the Friday Iowa night as the series raced as part of the ARCA race weekend.
"The fans got their money's worth tonight, no question," said Mitchell. "And for us, it was a lot of fun because everyone was there to see us race. We weren't just warming up for someone else that night, so it made it even more exciting to be racing for a big crowd that was into it."
Mitchell had predicted that the race would either be hectic or boring, but with several early incidents and then a two-grove track developing, it fortunately proved to not be boring.
"The racing itself was a lot better than I thought it was going to be," said Mitchell. "We got two lanes going and with the banking, we carried a lot of speed through the corners. I also liked racing at night and having this compact schedule. Just get in, go out there and see what you have and go racing. That was fun for me as a driver."
Mitchell made the most of the Motorola cars handling to move up to fourth once the race settled into a consistent pace. And while he felt like he might have had what he needed to make it to the podium, the intermittent yellow flags didn't help make that happen.
"My car was much better for the long runs, so the yellows didn't help us out there. It was a little bit free, but it was really good. The guys did a lot of work through the test and during the weekend so I was happy to turn that into a solid top-five this weekend."
With two strong oval outings under his belts, Mitchell will now change gears to a return to road course action with the double-header race weekend outside of Chicago on July 24-6.
"It was great to get that oval experience and obviously with these results, sure, I wouldn't mind if they added some more ovals to the schedule! But I'm ready to go back to the road courses for sure. It's not like I'm doing anything different in the car on the ovals as I have been on the road courses, just trying to get everything out of it that I can. Now we've got a little momentum with these results and now I'm just looking forward to racing again at Autobahn."