Washington DC: Inaugural race summary

Moses Smith captures the flag in two lap shootout at RFK Stadium. July 20, 2002. Washington, DC. Halfway through the inaugural Star Mazda Race at the Cadillac Grand Prix at RFK Stadium, in the heart of Washington, DC, Moses Smith believed his...

Moses Smith captures the flag in two lap shootout at RFK Stadium.

July 20, 2002. Washington, DC. Halfway through the inaugural Star Mazda Race at the Cadillac Grand Prix at RFK Stadium, in the heart of Washington, DC, Moses Smith believed his victory chances had been lost, but a late race caution period and a daring pass on the restart with two laps remaining catapulted Smith to the top of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship podium.

"Those last two laps were tough," an excited Smith said afterwards. "We were able to close up when the caution flag came out there at the end and I was just hoping we'd go green. I was able to move inside of Scott Speed and then spent the last two laps trying to keep everyone behind me."

Smith managed to accomplish that task, bringing home his HASA Pool Products Star Mazda home a mere twenty five thousandths of a second ahead of a hard charging Speed.

Coming off of a difficult Road America weekend where he lost his points lead after a gearbox failure during the race, Speed, in the Star Race Cars sponsored Mazda, was looking for redemption and appeared well on his way to success when the caution flag dashed his hopes. "I had been able to get by him at the halfway point in the race when he made a mistake in the second chicane and I was hoping I could pressure him into another mistake in those final laps," Speed said. "It was pretty interesting there at the end."

Championship leader Guy Cosmo, winner of the previous two races, had his streak ended and almost had his race ended early in a first lap brush with fellow front row starter Smith. "I was trying to get a run off of the start and when I turned into the first corner we brushed," Cosmo explained, "we bumped and I wound up in the marbles and Speed was right there to jump into the space. I was able to bring the KC-Baggers.com Mazda home in third and protect the points lead"

Twenty-eight cars took the green flag for the twenty-eight-lap event around the temporary 1.661 Mile street circuit in the shadows of RFK stadium, and drivers were battling throughout the field. Coming off of a difficult qualifying session in which he hit the wall and qualified twelfth, Tim Jennings moved through the field to finish fourth. "I was surprised that we were able to finish as well as we did today after qualifying," Jennings said. "The Team Jennings crew went to work and made a lot of changes in between sessions and here we are back towards the front."

Battle scars were evident on the next five finishers, as they jostled for positions. Leading the way in fifth was David Sterenberg, the 2000 Star Mazda Series Most Improved Driver. Participating in a one-off for his local sponsor, Internosis, Sterenberg was jockeying for a podium, before a spin damaged his rear wing, dropping him back for a short time. "Believe it or not the car was actually a bit better after I bumped the wing as it made the car looser," Sterenberg commented.

Coming up behind him Team Bucknum driver, John Olsen, sponsored by specialty skateboard shoemaker, DVS Shoes, had a handful all race after losing first gear on the start. "My race actually started on the pace lap when first gear broke," exclaimed Olsen. "Those other cars were able to drive right past on the start, but once I figured out how to drive around the problem I was able to move back towards the front. Fortunately, the gear didn't take out the rest of the gearbox."

Masters Championship leader entering the event, Doug Peterson, had a rough conclusion for his 3-Dimensional Services Mazda as he was aiming for a fifth place finish, when contact in the chicane with Luis Schiavo dropped him down to twelfth place. "It's been a tough few weeks as my wife is going in for her third back operation these past two months and I was looking for a positive result," Peterson explained. "Unfortunately I got collected in the corner and couldn't get back around before the other guys got past me."

With his third place finish, Cosmo only loses a few off of his points lead as the series travels to Mosport for Round Seven of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship.

-www.starmazda.com

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Guy Cosmo , Moses Smith , Scott Speed , Luis Schiavo , David Sterenberg , Doug Peterson