His bright green #22 Andersen Racing / College Network / Indeck / Cytomax Mazda leading the way from start (more or less) to finish, Conor Daly, son of racing legend Derek Daly, began growing his own legend with a win from the pole in Race 1 of a Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear double-header weekend at the Mazda Formula X Event at New Jersey Motorsports Park. It was his first victory of the season and vaulted him to 4th from 7th in the championship points.
Leading Daly into Turn 1, but giving up the lead in Turn 3 and ultimately following Daly across the finish line was Englishman Adam Christodoulou, the current championship leader and winner of two races so far this season. He started his #11 JDC Motorsports / Molecule Mazda on the outside of the front row. The final podium finisher, scoring his first top-3 finish of the season, was Canadian racer Mikael Grenier, who was fast in practice but qualified 8th after a late-night setup adjustment to his #17 Andersen Racing / NAPA Auto Parts / CAA-Quebec / HS Telecom Mazda went awry.
"I didn't get a great start because my car was creeping even with the clutch in, so I had to work the clutch, gas and brake all at the same time; that's why Adam was ahead of me going into the first turn," said Daly.
"But I got past him again in three and from there on had a really good race. It probably wasn't as exciting as the TV people would like, but I enjoyed it and the car was perfect. I was able to drive really consistent laps and was fortunate to be open up a gap at the beginning of the race, and after the re-start as well. I knew Adam was back there behind me and if there was an opportunity for him to pass he'd take it, so I had to focus on opening up a gap and once I was able to do that I just concentrated on managing my tires and conserving my car to go the full distance. Everyone will be working on their cars overnight, but my car is so good right now that I feel pretty good about being able to do this again tomorrow."
The top-finishing Master Series (aged 45 and over) driver was Gerry Kraut, co-owner of JDC Motorsports who brought his #55 JDC Motorsports / Dougherty & Co. / Dougherty Funding LLC Mazda home in 20th overall. In addition to his victory here, he has scored three in-class top-3 finishes so far this season and is second in the points battle for the Master Series Championship. Bringing his #16 Kester Racing Team 3G / Texas World Speedway / Motul Oil Mazda home 17th overall and first in the Expert Series was Chris Cumming of Vancouver B.C. He is the reigning 2008 Expert Series champion and is currently leading the 2009 Expert battle with two class wins and two in-class podium finishes. In the 2009 Star Mazda Championship points battle, Adam Christodoulou leads with two wins, two poles a podium and one 7th-place finish totaling 159 points.
Peter "The Irish Steamroller" Dempsey, who won four Star Mazda Championship races during the 2008 season and finished third in the championship, sits second in the championship battle with 144 points. He won Round Two at Virginia International Raceway, finished on the podium at Miller Motorsports Park and came through the New Jersey field from 15th on the starting grid to finish 6th. American Joel Miller, the 2008 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder driver, is third with 138 points, two podiums and two top-5 finishes. Race winner Conor Daly, the 2008 Skip Barber champion and this year's MAZDASPEED ladder driver, sits in fourth with one pole, one win, one podium, one top-5 and 128 points.
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