Conor Daly wins again at Autobahn
Conor Daly, starting from his sixth pole of the season, scored his fifth victory in this afternoons Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear Race 2 / Round 9 at the HARRAH'S Autobahn Grand Prix Presented by Mazda. Indianapolis native Daly, son of racing legend Derek Daly, led from green lights to checkered in his #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. Mazda – and set the fastest race lap in the process. Daly finished 3rd in yesterday's Race 1 / Round 8 after starting from the back of the pack due to a post-race technical infraction.
With this victory, Daly extends his lead not only in the series championship battle, but also in the fight for the inaugural VISITFLORIDA Cup a 7-race championship-within-a-championship sponsored by Florida's official tourism corporation. Both of this weekend's races were broadcast live on HDnet, and all seven VISITFLORIDA Cup races will be seen in worldwide syndication courtesy of VISITFLORIDA.com.
"It was another great day for Juncos Racing," said Daly. "We had a great weekend overall, and I'm really happy with the progress we've made. I just can't wait for the rest of the season now. There are only a few races left, so I'm going to work hard and focus on going for the championship."
The top-3 qualifiers finished in the order they started, with Frenchman Tristan Vautier bringing his #38 Andersen Racing / Moulin TP / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda home in 2nd-place. Vautier also qualified on the outside of the front row for yesterday's race, but finished last when a mechanical problem left him stranded by the side of the track on Lap 2. Norwegian racer Anders 'The Viking' Krohn taking the third podium spot in the #47 Andersen Racing / Norse Cutting & Abandonment / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda. Krohn also qualified third yesterday, and was in the running for a podium finish but a spin resulting from contact with another car that was attempting an overly ambitions pass in the closing stages of the race dropped him to 5th.
The first Master Series (drivers 45 and older) racer across the finish line (15th overall) was Puerto Rico's Carlos Conde in the #31 Team GDT / Pronto-GMT / Olympus Securities Mazda and leading the Expert Series (ages 30-44) was Texan J.W. Roberts in the #65 Team GDT / General Data Tech Mazda. Both drivers also won their classes in yesterday's race; Roberts has scored five in-class wins, while Conde has three in-class victories.
Quebec racer Mikael Grenier, winner from the pole of yesterday's race, today will started 5th in the #17 Andersen Racing / Slow Cow / April Super Flow / NAPA Auto Parts / HS Telecom / Desharnais Mazda and finished the race in 4th. Californian Connor De Phillippi, driving the #11 JDC Motorsports / MAZDASPEED Motorsports / Skip Barber Mazda, started 8th and finished 5th. De Phillippi won the 2009 Skip Barber Pro Series and is competing in the 2010 Star Mazda Championship with funding from the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder.
Also moving up were Texan Rusty Mitchell (from 9th to 6th) in the #66 Juncos Racing / Motorola / Petro Communications / HRP Racing Products / Texas Autosports Mazda, Venezuelan Jorge Goncalvez (from 14th to 7th) in the #9 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda and Chilean racer Kevin Toledo, making his first start with the newly-expanded Linares Racing team (13th to 8th) in the #21 Linares Racing / THL / Metalujica Chile Mazda. Toledo drove most of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship season with another team and this is his weekend is his first race in 2010.
One of the disappointed drivers in the field was certainly Brazilian Caio Lara who scored his first-ever Star Mazda victory three weeks ago at New Jersey Motorsports Park and finished second here yesterday after starting 14th on the grid. In today's race, he qualified 4th in his #19 JDC Motorsports / MLD / ATW Mazda, but fell back to finish 9th after being forced to serve a 'drive-thru' penalty for jumping the start .
Also frustrated were the two female racers in the field, particularly in light of their showing yesterday. Colombian racer Tatiana Calderon qualified her #25 Juncos Racing / JAC Motors Mazda in 12th for Saturday's race, then proceeded to carve through the field to cross the finish line in 4th. Her role in causing Anders Krohn to spin in the closing laps, however, caused officials to move her back behind Krohn in the finishing order to 6th. That said, it still showed a startling improvement in her form, which she attributed to a training regimen designed for her by the Indianapolis-based Pit Fit organization. In today's race, she experienced the opposite; Joao Victor Horto in the #18 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda made an ill-advised pass attempt on the opening lap, destroyed his suspension and took himself out of the race. Calderon, knocked off track but able to continue, raced her way from the back of the field up to 11th.
And local racer Ashley Freiberg of Homer Glen, Illinois, a top racer in the Skip Barber Series making a one-off Star Mazda Championship appearance in her home-town event, showed her true form yesterday after overcoming ongoing mechanical difficulties in practice that limited her on-track time to a handful of laps. She qualified 9th and moved up to finish 5th in the #91 Team GDT / Collision Damage Experts / Azko Nobel / Charleyhorse Restaurant Mazda. In today's race, her luck again turned sour and after qualifying 17th, she had a coming-together with Miami racer Sean Burstyn, running a one-off in the #61 Juncos Racing / The Collection Mazda, and finished 19th.
After 9 of 13 races, Conor Daly leads the series championship with 371 points, and the VISITFLORIDA battle with 192 points. Anders Krohn is second with 317 and 179, while Caio Lara is third in series points with 291 but Tristan Vautier is third in VISITFLORIDA points with 175. J.W. Roberts leads the Expert Series championship with 150 points and Carlos Conde leads the Master Series with 110 points. Andersen Racing is leading the team championship with 253 points.
The next event on the 2010 schedule for the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is the GP3R on the legendary street circuit in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec on August 15.
RESULTS / RACE 2
||Connor De Phillippi