Star Mazda Wed Practice Road Atlanta Finally taking the measure of themselves, their machines and the track on the second day of pre-race testing, the drivers of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear started turning some serious practice times during Wednesday's single on-track session. As was the case on Tuesday, the quickest driver in the session was also the championship points leader and winner of four races so far this season, Peter 'The Irish Steamroller' Dempsey.
Improving from his 1:20.344 of yesterday to a 1:19.538 on Lap 10 today driving his #3 Juncos Racing / The Collection / Motorsport Ireland / Queyside.ie Mazda, Dempsey and the rest of the front runners are still well shy of the lap record 1:18.328 set last year by – Peter Dempsey.
Second on the time sheet was another name familiar from yesterday, Conor Daly, who turned a 1:19.765 on lap 16 in his #22 Andersen Racing / College Network / Indeck / Cytomax Mazda. New to the sharp end of the grid – so far at this event anyway – Rusty Mitchell, the young Texan who stunned the field with his pole-position start and 2nd-place finish at Round 10 in Trois-Rivières. He was 7th and 6th in yesterday's two sessions, but moved up to 3rd today with a lap of 1:19.810 on Lap 6 in his #66 Mitchell Motorsports / Motorola Mazda.
Joel Miller and Richard Kent, both of whom figured prominently in yesterday's on-track action, remained among the top-5, Miller in 4th with a lap of 1:19.994 on Lap 15 in the #2 Andersen Racing / Doug Mockett & Co. / Allied Interior Products Mazda, and Kent with a 1:20.105 on Lap 10 in the #33 Andersen Racing / Traka Allied Interior Products Mazda. Anders 'the Viking' Krohn, who was 1st and 2nd on the time sheets yesterday, dropped to 7th today, turning a 1:20.176 on Lap 5 in his #27 Mundill / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda.
Among the Master (45 and older) and Expert (ages 30-44) Series drivers, Gerry Kraut, the co-owner of JDC Motorsports, was 15th-fast overall with a lap of 1:21.727 on Lap 7 in his #55 JDC Motorsports / Dougherty & Co. / Dougherty Funding LLC Mazda. Chris Cumming, the 2008 Expert Series Champion, turned 17th-fast overall lap of 1:22.501 on Lap 11 in his #16 World Speed Motorsports Mazda.
The top-7 drivers in the field turned quick laps within 1-second of each other around the 2.54-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta road course. Qualifying to set the grid for the always-exciting Star Mazda 'standing start' will take place from 2:20 – 3:05 pm Thursday, Sept. 24. Immediately afterward, drivers participating in the Racing for Kids program will visit the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite (1001 Johnson Ferry Road NE) at 4:15 pm. The Star Mazda Championship field will take the green light for the 45-minute Round 12 of the 2009 season at 5:30 pm Friday, Sept. 25. Round 13, the season finale, takes place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 10.
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