Top Ten for Mitchell on the Streets of St. Pete (St.Petersburg, FL) 28 March 2010--Rusty Mitchell scored his first top ten finish of the 2010 Star Mazda presented by Goodyear Championship in just the second race as he drove the No. 66 ...
Top Ten for Mitchell on the Streets of St. Pete
(St.Petersburg, FL) 28 March 2010--Rusty Mitchell scored his first top ten finish of the 2010 Star Mazda presented by Goodyear Championship in just the second race as he drove the No. 66 Motorola/Petro Com Mazda to a tenth place finish for Mitchell Motorsports in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this Sunday.
The race was part of the IZOD IndyCar race weekend event, which featured every step of the "Road to Indy" ladder as the full roster of open-wheel developmental level categories were on the ticket for Florida race fans.
Mitchell, who after making solid and continual progress through the 2009 season with improving performances as he became more and more familiar with his Motorola Mazda, had a break-out weekend in Quebec last year on the streets of Trois-Rivieres.
That podium performance gave Mitchell good reason for optimism as he entered the St. Pete Grand Prix weekend.
But the initial practice sessions, which saw the Motorola machine credited with 17th and 12th-fastest times, didn't confirm that optimism. But hard work from the Mitchell Motorsports crew, and a new approach to set-up for qualifying saw Mitchell back up into the top five on the qualifying grid, improving his time (1:11.317) by nearly two seconds over the practice session.
Looking to build on his 11th place finish from Sebring, the strong qualifying run on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary road circuit in Florida didn't produce the race day outing Mitchell had hoped for, but the Texan held on to bring the Motorola Mazda home in 10th position after 33 hard-fought laps on the streets of St. Pete.
"I think we knew that we had qualified a little bit better than where we really were in the field, so even though we were hoping to move up at the start, it was still good to come out of the weekend with a top ten," said Mitchell. "The car was good, but we just didn't have the pace through the full race distance to defend against some of the guys who had maybe a little bit more tire than I did at the end."
While the 10th place finish was not what he had been hoping for ahead of the weekend, Mitchell still came away from the event with some satisfaction as the championship builds intensity into the summer months.
"I really liked the track in St. Pete, and I'd like to run there again next year," said the Texan. "There is just something extra fun and challenging about running on a track like this, running so close to the walls, and dealing with the different surfaces. It was also cool to be there as part of the IndyCar event, and overall it was a good weekend for us even if we didn't quite finish where we had hoped we could. Hopefully we can pick up some momentum in the points in the next few rounds."
Now the focus will move to a full-series test at O'Riley Raceway Park outside of Indianapolis as Mitchell moves back to the oval concentration ahead of the "Night Before the 500" event on May 29th. Mitchell showed very well in the series' two oval outings last year, and will look to build on those performances again this year at ORP and then in Iowa in June.