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Furfari tops Star Mazda testing in NJ
Michael Furfari
New Jersey Motorsports Park -- The last time we heard from Michael Furfari, the 16-year old driver of the #13 Juncos Racing / Furfari Paving Mazda, he had amazed one and all by turning the fastest lap during two days of Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear testing at the Milwaukee Mile oval… his first time ever on an oval.  A 'true rookie' in a field full of 'technical rookies,' Furfari is the shortest (5-ft. 5-in.), lightest (120 lbs.) and youngest (turned 16 just before the season opener at Sebring) in the Star Mazda Championship.

And now he's done it again, setting the fastest lap of the day, a 1:15.903 sec., in the first practice session of the day.  Unfortunately, his times in the remaining two sessions of the day were abysmal, right at the tail end of the field.  Mix that in with the fact that Furfari's best finish in three races so far this year was 9th at Miller Motorsports Park, preceded by a 25th at VIR and a 12th in the season-opener at Sebring.  It would be tempting to write these two fast laps off as a fluke, save that he backed up his Milwaukee time with another lap just 1/100ths of a second slower; and he did set his fastest lap at New Jersey Motorsports Park on the coldest, dirtiest, most un-fast track conditions of the entire day.

Michael Furfari
So what emerges, tentatively, is a portrait of a driver too young and experienced to have developed any real race craft – but with blinding speed and nerves of steel for a lap – or two.  Not an unfamiliar story with genuinely hot young drivers, and something that bears watching.  Can he stretch that speed out over more and more laps, and on to full race length?  If so, the last half of the 2009 season could be interesting indeed. 

The second-fast lap (1:15.939, in the final session) was by Englishman Richard Kent, last year's 'mystery driver' who ran only one race – the season-ender at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – destroying the established order in the process with a lap record pole effort and a flag-to-flag parade to take his first win.  He took the pole at this year's season-opener at Sebring and finished second, missed Round 2 due to a non-racing injury and came back to finish 4th at Miller Motorsports Park.  He's currently 8th in the championship, but that won't last long.

Third-fast on the day (1:15.968 sec.) was the man you'd expect to annihilated everyone else, current points leader and winner of two of the three races so far this season, Englishman Adam Christodoulou, driver of the #11 JDC Motorsports / Molecule Mazda.  He's made a practice of being fastest in virtually every practice session leading up to a race, and turned the fastest lap on the Star Mazda series test on the Iowa Speedway oval… no small feat for a hard-core road racer raised on corkscrew tracks turned into weekly tests of nerve and car control by the omnipresent European rain. 

There were no great surprises in the remainder of the top-5; Canadian Mikael Grenier 4th-fast in his #17 Andersen Racing / NAPA Auto Parts / CAA-Quebec / HS Telecom Mazda, followed by another driver who has yet to show his full potential, 2008 FF2000 Champions Anders "the Viking" Krohn, who turned a lap of 1:16.052 sec.) in his #27 Mundill / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda.  Pleasant surprises on the day included a 6th-fast 1:16.072 from Brazilian racer Caio Lara in #19 JDC Motorsports / MLD / ATW/ Molecule Mazda and a 7th-fast 1:16.173 from another driver coming into his own this season, American Rusty Mitchell in the #66 Mitchell Motorsports / Motorola Mazda.


Pos No. Name Overall Best Time In Session
1 13 Michael Furfari 1:15.903 Thursday First Practice
2 33 Richard Kent 1:15.939 Thursday Final Practice
3 11 Adam Christodoulou 1:15.968 Thursday First Practice
4 17 Mikael Grenier 1:16.047 Thursday Final Practice
5 27 Anders Krohn 1:16.052 Thursday 2nd Practice
6 19 Caio Lara 1:16.072 Thursday First Practice
7 66 Rusty Mitchell 1:16.173 Thursday Final Practice
8 51 Alex Ardoin 1:16.220 Thursday Final Practice
9 22 Conor Daly 1:16.241 Thursday First Practice
10 82 Billy Goshen 1:16.263 Thursday First Practice
11 2 Joel Miller 1:16.269 Thursday Final Practice
12 72 Jorge Goncalvez 1:16.328 Thursday 2nd Practice
13 21 Dennis Navarro 1:16.445 Thursday 2nd Practice
14 30 Rick Rosin 1:16.451 Thursday Final Practice
15 77 Kevin Toledo 1:17.063 Thursday Final Practice
16 15 Taylor Hacquard 1:17.085 Thursday First Practice
17 71 David Ostella 1:17.096 Thursday Final Practice
18 91 Michael Guasch 1:17.178 Thursday 2nd Practice
19 48 Kristy Kester 1:17.380 Thursday Final Practice
20 16 Chris Cumming 1:17.500 Thursday Final Practice
21 65 J.W. Roberts 1:17.952 Thursday Final Practice
22 61 Sean Burstyn 1:18.217 Thursday First Practice
23 31 Carlos Conde 1:18.377 Thursday Final Practice
24 55 Gerry Kraut 1:18.592 Thursday Final Practice
25 24 J.C. Kester 1:18.674 Thursday 2nd Practice
26 80 Toshi Deki 1:19.039 Thursday First Practice
27 23 Walt Bowlin 1:20.716 Thursday Final Practice
28 20 Gustavo Linares 1:58.145 Thursday Final Practice

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