UNDER THREATENING SKIES, NEW NAMES EMERGE AT THE TOP OF THE STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP PRACTICE TIME SHEETS AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE Milwaukee Mile, West Allis, WI (June 19, 2009) -- After an overnight downpour left the track soaked and the infield ...
UNDER THREATENING SKIES, NEW NAMES EMERGE AT THE TOP OF THE STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP PRACTICE TIME SHEETS AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE
Milwaukee Mile, West Allis, WI (June 19, 2009) -- After an overnight downpour left the track soaked and the infield tunnel flooded to the rafters, crews at the Milwaukee Mile performed heroically to get things dried out in time for both the NASCAR Camping World Trucks and Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear cars to get in their allotted practice sessions.
During the first one-hour session for the Star Mazda Championship cars, it was second-year driver Rusty Mitchell who turned the fastest time in his #66 Mitchell Motorsports / Motorola Mazda; a 28.055 sec. (128.319 mph).
"I thought the track came around there a whole lot toward the last part of the session, so we just kind of waited, bided our time and made all our adjustments during the last part of the session," said Mitchell. "We were fast in New Jersey, but had some back luck in the races and when you're P1 in a session it always helps boost the team morale. We're not flat around here yet, though I think we'll need to get to that by tomorrow; but I'm not using brakes either, just rolling the throttle in and out."
He was followed in the order by Scandanavian racer Anders Krohn -- in a performance nothing short of a miracle; his team arrived at the track in the morning to find the deluge and rain had destroyed their tent and the carbon fiber 'tub' of his Star Mazda race car lived up to its name by being half-full of water. The Mundill team got things sorted out in time for him to turn the second-fastest time of the session, a 28.094 sec. (128.141 mph) in the #27 Mundill / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda.
Rounding out the top-5 were David Ostella with a 28.129 sec. (127.982 mph) in his #71 AIM Autosport/Global Precast Mazda, Jorge Goncalvez with a 28.272 sec. (127.334 mph) in the #72 AIM Autosport / Mazda and Brazilian Caio Lara with a 28.279 sec. (127.303n mph) in his #19 JDC Motorsports / MLD / ATW/ Molecule Mazda.
The top 19 cars in the 22-car field were covered by less than one second around the legendary 1-mile Milwaukee Motorsports oval. The same held true for the second session, in which the top 20 cars were all within one second of each other; Englishman Richard Kent led the second session with a 27.971 sec. (128.705 mph) in his (#33 Andersen Racing / Traka / Lafarge / Allied Interior Products Mazda. This may prove to be critical; while single-car qualifying is scheduled for early afternoon, if the weather does not cooperate on Saturday, qualifying will be cancelled and the cars will start the race based on a merge of the times in the two practice sessions.... putting Kent on the pole. And he carries with him the momentum of a win in the second of two Star Mazda Championship races held last weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
"The car's been good, but you have to be careful; you make the smallest little changes on a course like this... and they make a BIG difference, it's unbelievable," says Kent. "But we keep edging away at it, like everyone else, and put on some new tires right at the end and got them scrubbed in so we're ready to go for tomorrow. The car seems good over longer runs, but it's going to be interesting to see what the drop-off in tire performance is like. This is a new experience for everyone, and we're all running quite close together, but we'll all be running the same pace at the start of the race and as long as everyone keeps in their comfort zone, it should be good."
Second-fast in the second session was Jorge Goncalvez with a 27.972 sec (128.700 mph), followed by Rusty Mitchell with a 27.988 sec. (128.627 mph) and a new name on the list -- Conor Daly, who won the Saturday race at last weekend's Star Mazda Championship double-header at New Jersey Motorsports Park. His lap of 27.993 sec. (128.604 mph) was good for fourth on the afternoon time sheet. Rounding out the top-5 was David Ostella with a 28.010 sec. (128.526 mph) lap.
Qualifying is scheduled to take place from Noon to 1:00 pm Saturday, June 20th, with the race getting the green flag at 2:30 pm.... weather permitting. The event will be 100 laps of flat-out, side-by-side racing with no pit stops. The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is now in its 19th year as one of the most successful open-wheel driver development series in North America; the Milwaukee Mile race is Round 6 of the 11-weekend, 13-race (two double-headers) 2009 Star Mazda Championship race schedule that includes road courses, oval tracks and street circuits in both the U.S. and Canada.