SHAKE-UP IN THE STREETS -- TEXAN RUSTY MITCHELL TAKES THE POLE FOR THE START OF TOMORROW'SROUND 10 OF THE 2009 STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP AT THE 40TH RUNNING OF THE GP3R Trois Rivieres, Quebec (August 15, 2009) -- With the smart money betting that...
SHAKE-UP IN THE STREETS -- TEXAN RUSTY MITCHELL TAKES THE POLE FOR THE START OF TOMORROW'SROUND 10 OF THE 2009 STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP AT THE 40TH RUNNING OF THE GP3R
Trois Rivieres, Quebec (August 15, 2009) -- With the smart money betting that the pole would go to Irishman Peter Dempsey -- who, after all, has won four races this year, the last three in a row... and won this event last year -- it was instead Rusty Mitchell, of Midland, Texas, who stepped up, turned in his best qualifying effort ever and put the #66 Mitchell Motorsports / Motorola Mazda on the inside of the front row with a lap of 1.01.341. The time, a new lap record for the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at this legendary 1.52-mile temporary road circuit at this track, eclipses the old mark of 1:01.978 set last year by... Peter Dempsey.
Dempsey, running the Juncos Racing spare car -- now that Walt Bowlin, owner of the car in which Dempsey has scored his remarkable string of three straight victories, has returned to competition -- had his session cut short by contact with the wall, but still managed a 1:01.489 on lap 8 to claim the outside of the front row.
"Pretty much everything went right for me and I have to thank the Mitchell Motorsports team for that," said Mitchell, the second-year driver who put in strong drives on the two ovals earlier in the season, finishing 6th at the Milwaukee Mile and 4th at the Iowa Speedway. "The car was awesome. It was just 'stuck,' and on a street circuit like this one, that's really important. It was one of those great cars that you have every so often. We actually did the fast time on older tires in the early part of the session; we put new ones on and they weren't any faster, so I just came in and parked it and we waited to see if anyone could beat the time. My strategy for tomorrow is pretty simple: get a good start and do my best to run away from the field."
Starting third will be Louisiana racer Alex Ardoin with a lap of 1:01.604 in his #51 JDC Motorsports / Oral & Facial Surgery Center / Twister Trailer Mazda. Ardoin finished 4th in the championship in 2008 and won the 2007 Star Mazda season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Lining up alongside him will be the only other driver in the field who has won more than one race this season, Englishman Adam Christodoulou, the 2008 U.K. Formula Renault champion. The two-time wined turned a lap of 1:01.641 to put his #11 JDC Motorsports / Molecule / Alpinestars Mazda third on the starting grid. Californian Joel Miller, the 2007 Skip Barber Pro Series champion and 2008 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder scholarship winner, turned the 5th-fast time of 1:02.041 in the #2 Andersen Racing / Fader Higher Productions / eSoles / Doug Mockett & Co. Mazda. This year's MAZDASPEED Ladder driver, Conor Daly, who turned the fastest lap in Friday practice, had to settle for 7th on the grid with a lap of 1:02.118 in the #22 Andersen Racing / College Network / Indeck / Cytomax Mazda.
The quickest driver in the Master Series (for drivers 45 years and older) was Californian Mike Guasch, who is currently leading the class championship battle with five in-class wins. His lap of 1:02.761 in the #91 JDC Motorsports / Molecule Mazda was two seconds faster than his best time in practice and good for the 13th starting spot on the grid. The top qualifier among the Expert Series (racers 30-44 years old) was another Texan J.W. Roberts from Dallas. Back after taking a few races off to welcome a new member of his family into the world, Roberts turned a 16th-fast lap of 1:02.905 in the #65 Team GDT / General Data Tech Mazda.
Carrying the flag for the Quebec racing fans will be Mikael Grenier, a 16-year old 'phenom' who started racing at age 5, won multiple karting championships and scored six podium finishes in last year's intensely competitive Formula BMW Americas series. Born on Oct. 17, 1992 in Quebec City and now a student living in Stoneham and attending Georges-Vanier High School in Montreal, Grenier has confirmed his talent with a pair of podium finishes and two top-10s so far in the 2009 Star Mazda Championship season. He has struggled so far this weekend with electrical problems in the #17 Andersen Racing / NAPA Auto Parts / CAA-Quebec / HS Telecom Mazda and will start on the last row in 19th-place after turning a lap of 1:05.066.
"All through practice yesterday we had an electrical problem and a fuel pump problem with the car , but I was confident today that we would get a top-3 qualifying, but we had the electrical problem again and I was just able to get into third gear on the straights, so that's why we were very slow," said Grenier. bAnd now the team found the problem so we should be able to make a good race tomorrow. It's going to be a nice challenge, but it's my home race and I have a lot of friends here so I'm going to be trying really hard to move up. It's hard to pass here, but the car has good grip and balance and the race is long so you never know what can happen."