JDC MOTORSPORTS KICKS OFF NEW SEASON WITH SEBRING VICTORIES Rookie Joel Miller and Masters pilot Chuck Hulse top podium at 12-hour weekend SEBRING, FL (March 16, 2008) -- After winning both the Driver and Team Championships in last year's...
JDC MOTORSPORTS KICKS OFF NEW SEASON WITH SEBRING VICTORIES
Rookie Joel Miller and Masters pilot Chuck Hulse top podium at 12-hour weekend
SEBRING, FL (March 16, 2008) -- After winning both the Driver and Team Championships in last year's Star Mazda Championship, JDC MotorSports was back on form when the new season began this past weekend at Sebring International Raceway, putting five drivers on track on the 3.7-mile circuit. The team left the legendary Florida venue on a high note, putting their rookie driver on the top step of the podium following with a huge victory, adding in the Masters class win for good measure. Freshman Star Mazda pilot Joel Miller was the fastest driver from Tuesday onward, taking the pole position in Thursday qualifying before translating his front row starting position into an impressive debut victory in this ultra-competitive series. Teammate Chuck Hulse, new to the JDC camp for '08, turned in a stellar run as well, capturing the Masters honors in a strong drive to 18th. The entire JDC team looks incredibly strong once again and they have already bonded together as a cohesive unit, ready to take on the new season.
Miller's win ended a near-perfect weekend for the young Hesperia, CA resident, who comes into the series on a MAZDASPEED driver development scholarship having won the Skip Barber National title last season. Pacing the field for a majority of the sessions, Miller got straight to work on Friday when the race arrived. When the lights flashed off to launch the first standing start in series history, Miller shifted to second gear a little too early to grab the lead and needed to slip in behind Charles Hall heading into turn one. Hall then overcooked the corner slightly, allowing Miller to capitalize, securing the lead heading into Sebring's turn three. From there, he was never headed, running to a 6.6-second win in a race that went green to checker.
""First of all, I have to thank Mazda and the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder for the sponsorship that got me this ride, and also JDC MotorSports and our engineer Rick Cameron for a flawless car," said Miller, former US national karting champion with the Stars of Karting series. "The only problem in the race was one that I caused by bobbling the standing start just a bit, allowing Charles Hall to get ahead of me for the first two turns. But I was able to pass him in turn three and it was clear sailing from there. I don't expect to win them all, consistent top-five finishes are how you win a championship, but it sure tastes sweet to win in my first-ever Star Mazda Championship race."
In his run to the Masters victory, Hulse capped a superb week that focused on gaining Sebring experience, as he improved in each on-track session, learning the track and his new team. The California businessman did have one self-professed off-track 'moment' in one of the early week practice sessions, but he kept his eye on the prize, turning faster laps each time he took to the track. With this win, Hulse has established himself as the driver to beat for the Masters Championship.
Giving Hulse a good run for his money in Masters, team co-owner Gerry Kraut delivered a solid performance in Sebring. After qualifying in the 23rd position, Kraut drove a solid race up to a 19th place finish, directly behind his class-winning teammate to begin what will very likely be a season-long challenge.
After re-signing with JDC just weeks before the event, series sophomore Nick Haye capped a trying weekend with a solid top-10 finish, steering his entry to sixth in the final tally after qualifying a strong fourth. Haye battled several nagging issues throughout the week after topping the chart in the opening session of Monday's testing. Getting out of the weekend with a sixth place result was pleasing to the Californian, who is expected to challenge for the title in '08, considering the fact that he sucked a hot dog wrapper into his radiator midway through the race, causing his Mazda powerplant to overheat to the point of power loss.
JDC MotorSports also welcoming Brazilian Ernesto Otero to the tent to begin the season. Otero showed good pace through the week, eventually qualifying an impressive third to make his Star Mazda debut from the inside of the second row for the main event, right behind Miller. The fact that the race went caution-free did not mean that it was without incident, as the former British F3 driver was unceremoniously dumped by another competitor in the hairpin during the second lap, stranding him on the circuit and leaving him with a 26th place finish. Otero has already shown the pace necessary to run at the front and he will be looking for retribution at the second run. Otero has now relocated from Brazil to Minneapolis, where he will base himself close to the team.