Championship leader Peter Dempsey takes his fourth pole of the year during an oil-spill-shortened Star Mazda Championship qualifying session at the Petit Le Mans Road Atlanta / Sept. 24 2009 -- Peter 'The Irish Steamroller' Dempsey scored his ...
Championship leader Peter Dempsey takes his fourth pole of the year during an oil-spill-shortened Star Mazda Championship qualifying session at the Petit Le Mans
Road Atlanta / Sept. 24 2009 -- Peter 'The Irish Steamroller' Dempsey scored his fourth pole of the year during a severely-compressed qualifying session leading up to tomorrow's Round 12 of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the Petit Le Mans Powered by MAZDA6. Despite a session shortened from 23 to 10 minutes due to crews cleaning up an oil trail laid down by another car, on lap 6 of the session Dempsey turned the pole time of 1:19.584 in his #3 Juncos Racing / The Collection / Motorsport Ireland / Queyside.ie Mazda. Dempsey, the current championship points leader, also owns the outright lap record, set here in 2008 when he qualified on the pole with a 1:18.328 (though he finished 19th due to an on-track incident). This is Dempsey's fourth pole of the year, matching his record of four victories so far.
"Juncos gave me a great car, but with the session so short, and the oil dry down on the track as well, it was always going to be difficult," said Dempsey. "We need the extra point for the championship so this was a vital qualifying session, and it's good to have a couple of Andersen cars between me and Adam (Christodoulou) as well, so I'm happy with how the session worked out."
Lining up alongside Dempsey on the front row will be Conor Daly, who on lap 4 of the session turned a 1:19.632 (just .048 sec. off the pole time) in the #22 Andersen Racing / College Network / Indeck / Cytomax Mazda.JDaly, son of racing legend Derek Daly, is third in the championship with one win (from the pole at New Jersey) and four podium finishes. Daly is the 2008 Skip Barber Pro Series champion and is racing in the 2009 Star Mazda Championship courtesy of the unique MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder scholarship that provided the funding for his season.
Lining up third on the grid for the always-exciting Star Mazda standing start tomorrow afternoon will be Joel Miller, the 2007 Skip Barber champion who raced the 2008 Star Mazda season thanks to the MAZDASPEED Ladder. He finished second in the championship last year (which was won by John Edwards, who today won the pole for tomorrow's Atlantic Championship race with funding from the MAZDASPEED Ladder). Miller turned a 1:19.948 in the #2 Andersen Racing / Doug Mockett & Co. / Allied Interior Products Mazda. Miller qualified and finished 2nd here in 2008.
Rounding out the top-5 are Englishman Richard Kent, currently 6th in the championship, with a lap of 1:20.229 in his #33 Andersen Racing / Traka Allied Interior Products Mazda and Scandinavian racer Anders 'The Viking' Krohn, 5th-fast with a lap of 1:20.297 in the #27 Mundill / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda. Both drivers are race winners (Kent at New Jersey and Mosport, both from the pole) and Krohn on the Milwaukee Mile oval.
Dempsey's primary protagonist (though technically eight drivers remain in mathematical competition for the championship) is Englishman Adam Christodoulou, a 2-time race winner (in the season-opener at Sebring and from the pole at Salt Lake City). Separated by just 8 points, with the series awarding 44 points for a win and a total of 89 points remaining to be won in 2009, Christodoulou has been a touch off the pace all weekend and starts 6th on the grid with a lap of 1:20.559 in the #11 JDC Motorsports / Molecule / Alpinestars Mazda. That said, he's been on the podium in four of the last six races and is eminently capable of the kind of surprise move that changes the character of a race -- or a championship battle -- in an instant.
Among the Master (45 and older) and Expert (ages 30-44) Series drivers, Gerry Kraut, the co-owner of JDC Motorsports, will line up 16th in the grid with a lap of 1:21.740 in his #55 JDC Motorsports / Dougherty & Co. / Dougherty Funding LLC Mazda. Chris Cumming, the 2008 Expert Series Champion, will line up directly behind him in the 17th grid spot after turning a lap of 1:22.256 in his #16 World Speed Motorsports Mazda.JWhile the 2008 Star Mazda Master Series championship has been clinched by Californian Mike Guasch, who scored six in-class wins driving the #91 JDC Motorsports / Molecule Mazda, the Expert Series championship remains in contention; Cumming is battling with Japanese racer Toshihiro Deki, who starts 19th on the grid with a lap of 1:23.230 in the #80 Juncos Racing Mazda.
The 20-car field is set to take the green light for the 45-minute Round 12 of the 2009 season at 5:30 pm Friday, Sept. 25. Round 13, the season finale, takes place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 10.