Winston-Salem, NC -- September 16, 2002 -- It all came down to the last race of the season. With only 4 points separating 4th through 6th places, the excitement at Summit Point, WV could be felt before the cars were off the trailer. Fred...
Winston-Salem, NC -- September 16, 2002 -- It all came down to the last race of the season. With only 4 points separating 4th through 6th places, the excitement at Summit Point, WV could be felt before the cars were off the trailer.
Fred Huscher, Velocity team engineer, and Watts decided to take a chance on a new setup before qualifying in the search for the speed that was missing during practice. Moving from heavy understeer, to outrageous oversteer, Watts struggled to qualify the #25 Velocity car in 7th position, nearly two seconds off the poll time in perfect sunny conditions. Down, but not out, Team Velocity went back to the drawing board before the race on Sunday.
Sunday morning the weather shifted to a steady rain. Despite his lack of experience with driving a racecar in the rain, Watts was optimistic; hoping the rain would be the wildcard he needed to overcome a poor qualifying time. Mechanic Matt Weindel made the needed adjustments to the #25 Velocity Team car in preparation for a wet race. With rain tires torqued on and Rain-X coating his visor, Watts took the start in a cloud of mist.
With smooth inputs and careful driving, Watts soon found himself in 2nd place as a double yellow was thrown to pull team owner Ken Erb from a gravel trap. When the race resumed, Watts spun in turn 4, forcing him to watch most of the field lap by. Reassurance from the crew over the radio and a little but of luck, allowed Watts to work his way back through the field, catching Jim Nichols, the 2nd place car. A superb three-lap battle ensued, as both drivers hung it out in the wet looking for any advantage. With only 2 laps left in the race, Watts made a pass stick and moved into 2nd position with the first place car of Victor Seaber in sight ahead.
After the mist cleared and the results were in, Watts placed 2nd, earning extra points for both the fastest lap of the race and the hard charger award. This finish proved to be exactly the performance Watts needed to leapfrog Marci Anderson and Glenn Cooper, to finish 4th for the season. Running only 6 of a possible 7 points races, Watts and Velocity Motorsports are quite pleased with the season's results. The excellent finish in his rookie season netted Watts the "Rising Star" award from Pi Electronics. See www.StarMazdaSeries.com for more info.
Watts intends to make his Pro debut with the Velocity Motorsports team (www.VelocityMotorsports.com) at this year's Petit LeMans (www.imsaracing.net), competing in the final round of the 2002 Star Mazda Pro Series. Looking for a strong finish, Watts hopes to turn his recent successes into a sponsorship deal to fund his participation in the entire 2003 Star Mazda Pro Series (www.starmazda.com).
Well spoken and mature, Watts is confident that his Business education at Wake Forest University combined with his work experience in Motorsports marketing will allow him to represent a sponsor with creativity and professionalism. The ABW Motorsports and Velocity Motorsports partnership looks to the future for continued success and excitement.