Ryan Justice powers his way to second consecutive Star Mazda victory
May 20, 2006. Lexington, Ohio. Ryan Justice, of Portland, Oregon, powered his way to victory today in Round Three of The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Driving the #38 Northwest Autosport Mazda, Justice led every lap to capture his second consecutive victory. Adrian Carrio, from Monument, Colorado, finished second in the #14 Rockford Fosgate World Speed Motorsports Mazda 3.477 seconds behind Justice in today's 29-lap event. Kevin Lacroix, driving the #74 Uni-Select Auto Parts John Walko Racing Mazda finished third to complete this afternoon's podium.
"Jon Branam did a better job that I did of anticipating the start and was able to get into the lead but I was able to get around him right away and the rest of the race was maintaining and building a lead and managing my tires since we didn't have a lot of long runs on a dry track with all the rain earlier in the weekend," Justice explained. "Once my car was up to speed it was the car to beat this weekend. I was hoping that Adrian and Kevin could close up a bit so we could have a fight to the finish but those days will come."
Carrio, who came into the weekend tied for the points lead with Michael Potekhen, lined up fourth on the grid but was quickly up to third on the opening lap and was able to jump past Branam into second place on the first of two restarts. "After Houston I spent a lot of time working with my driver coach focusing on starts and restarts and it paid off today," the 17-year old said. "I got a great start to move into third place and was able to get past Branam on the restart when he went a little wide. We were gaining on Ryan after the second restart for a bit before he was able to open up a gap. The World Speed crew gave me a great car and I have to thank Rockford Fosgate and my dad for all their support to get me to the front of the championship."
Making only his second start in the series, Lacroix, from St Eustache, Quebec, Canada, was looking to chase down Carrio in the closing laps but was unable to find a way past and would finish third, scoring his second consecutive podium finish. "Adrian and I had some close calls in the final laps as we came up on lap traffic and we almost made contact," Lacroix commented. "I didn't get to do any preseason testing with the team so these past two races I have been learning how to communicate with my engineer and team and things are working really well."
35 drivers took the green flag for today's 29-lap event which was interrupted by two brief caution periods. The first caution period came out on lap eight when Dan Tomlin III and Browning Williams found the gravel traps in separate incidents. The final caution period occurred on lap 13 when Rob Bunker and Brian Thienes were caught up in an incident in the Keyhole corner of the 2.25-mile road circuit
With three rounds complete of the 2006 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear Carrio climbs to the top of the championship with 109 points while Justice jumps from fourth to second place with 102 points and Potekhen, who finished fifth in today's event occupies third place with 101 points.
In the Expert Championship, for drivers aged 30-44, Gerardo Bonilla captured the class victory in his #9 Carmela Sausages Andersen Racing Team Mazda and holds first place with 51 points. Dan Tomlin III and Brian Thienes are now tied for second with 42 points apiece.In the Masters Championship, for drivers aged 45 and older, John Pew, driving the #15 NVG Velocity Motorsports Mazda was the class winner after battling with Doug Peterson for the top spot in class and remains out front with 52 points. Ken Losch sits in second in class with 43 points and Peterson holds third place with 42 points.
In the Team Championship World Speed Motorsports remains in first with 56 points while Northwest Autosport jumps to second with 53 points and John Walko Racing is third with 47 points.
Coming up in June, the series makes it's only oval appearance of the season, running with the Champ Car World Series at the famed Milwaukee Mile in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for Round Four of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear on June 3-4. Round Three from the Mid-Ohio Sports car course is scheduled to air at 3:00 PM Eastern Time on Sunday, June 11th. For more information please visit www.starmazda.com