Daly wins record 9th pole
Continuing his record-breaking pole position streak, championship points leader Conor Daly scored his ninth pole of the season for this afternoon's Round 12 of the 2010 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the Mobil 1 Presents the Grand Prix of Mosport. The young American turned a lap of 1:15.342 (117.496 mph) in the #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. Mazda.
Starting alongside Daly, in his first-ever appearance on the front row of the Star Mazda starting grid, is Venezuelan racer Jorge Goncalvez with a lap of 1:15.481 (117.280 mph) in the #9 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda. Both drivers turned their quick time on Lap 3 of the session, as did 3rd-place qualifier French racer Tristan Vautier with a lap of 1:15.504 (117.244) in the #38 Andersen Racing / Moulin TP / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais / Fontanel Mazda. Vautier has scored two wins this season, but several finishes outside the top-10 have dropped him to 6th in the championship.
Starting on the outside of the second row will be young Quebec racer Mikael Grenier with a lap of 1:15.768 (116.836 mph) in his #17 Andersen Racing / Slow Cow / April Super Flow / NAPA Auto Parts / HS Telecom / Desharnais Mazda. Grenier is 4th in the championship and won from the pole in Round 8 at Autobahn.
Starting 5th on the grid is the only driver in the field with an outside chance to deny Daly the series championship. Norwegian racer Anders 'The Viking' Krohn, still looking for his first win this season in the #47 Andersen Racing / Norse Cutting & Abandonment / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda, has parlayed a consistent string of top-5 finishes into 2nd-place in the championship – albeit a somewhat distant second place as Daly, with six wins and nine poles, need only finish 12th or better in this afternoon's penultimate round of the 2010 Star Mazda Championship to clinch the title. Krohn's qualifying lap was 1:15.899 (116.634 mph).
Starting alongside Krohn, in the 6th grid position with a lap of 1:15.901 (116.631 mph) will be California racer Connor De Phillippi, driving the #11 JDC Motorsports / MAZDASPEED Motorsports / Skip Barber Mazda. De Phillippi, the 2009 Skip Barber Pro Series champion is racing this season in Star Mazda with funding provided by the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder and scored his first Star Mazda podium finish at Road America and is 5th in the championship. Interestingly, Daly was also the Skip Barber champion (in 2008) and drove last year with backing from the MAZDASPEED Ladder.
The other championship that will be decided here today is the Master Series for drivers 45 and older. Carlos Conde, an investment banker from San Juan, Puerto Rico and New York City has scored six in-class wins so far this year racing his #31 Team GDT / Pronto-GMT / Olympus Securities Mazda. The points situation is such that he will become the 2010 Star Mazda Master Series Champion the instant the green flag falls. His teammate and owner of Team GDT, Texan J.W. Roberts, has already clinched the Expert Series championship for drivers 30 to 44 years old with eight in-class wins driving the #65 Team GDT / General Data Tech Mazda. Roberts chose not to compete this weekend, allowing the GDT squad to focus on Conde's championship effort.
While Daly and Krohn are the only two drivers left in competition for the overall series championship, the top-8 drivers in the field are all still in the running for the inaugural VISITFLORIDA Cup, a 7-race championship-within-a-championship sponsored by the series' television partner, VISIT FLORIDA, the official tourism and marketing organization for the state of Florida. The live HDnet broadcasts and global syndication package made possible by the VISITFLORIDA partnership brings Star Mazda Championship racing to more than 150 million households worldwide. The prize, a custom 'dream vacation' provided by VISIT Florida goes to the driver scoring the most points in the seven races that are part of the Cup, including this weekend's Mobil 1 Presents the Grand Prix of Mosport and the season finale at the 13th Annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, September 29 – October 2. For information about where and when you can see the Mosport race (and other Star Mazda VISITFLORIDA races) on television, visit www.MazdaRacing.tv.
Conor Daly also leads this competition with 192 points scored in races, and Anders Krohn is in second with 179 VISITFLORIDA points. But with 90 points remaining to be won in the final two races, that leaves the top-17 drivers still in contention, including two of the four Canadians in the field. Mikael Grenier is starting in third, and local driver, David Ostella, from Maple, Ontario is 10th in the championship, but has two top-4 and six-top-10 finishes in the #16 AIM Autosport / GP Global Precast Mazda. He starts from 9th on the grid with a lap of 1:16.318 (115.994 mph).
Mikhail Goikhberg, a 22 year-old Russian racer from St. Petersburg now living in Toronto, is a full-time racer in the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda and is making his Star Mazda debut with JDC Motorsports, which also fields his USF2000 effort. Zack Meyer, a Canadian karting champion and Skip Barber racer is making his debut alongside David Ostella driving for AIM Autosport, the only Canadian team currently competing in the series. They will be starting 16th and 18th, respectively.
This afternoon's 45-minute Star Mazda Championship race, with the traditional F1-style 'standing start', gets the green light at 1:15 pm.
||Connor De Phillippi