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Ed Jones and Max Chilton led the way for European powerhouse open-wheel team Carlin as the Dallara IL-15 and turbocharged 2.0-liter Mazda MZR-R engines made their official track debut today with a pair of practice sessions for this weekend's Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season-opening Mazda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Peninsula Pipeline.
 
Jones was fastest in this morning's opening practice session with a time of 1:07.1401 (average speed 96.515 mph), which was already faster than the existing race lap record of 1:07.2141 set by Sebastian Saavedra in 2009. A heavy rain shower precluded any activity in the scheduled afternoon session, so Jones' morning time remained as the fastest.
 
"The car is great to drive, especially through some of the fast corners," said Jones. "It's been a great experience. Carlin has done a very good job with the setup of the car. Obviously, it was a guessing game this morning, since we haven't been to this track before and so many of the other teams have. And it's been a matter of building myself up; I struggled a bit at the beginning of the session but it got better and better. I'm really looking forward to the dry weather and finally racing the car."
 
Carlin teammate Max Chilton, who raced for the past two years in Formula 1 and is helping the team with its initial foray to North America - with eyes fixed firmly on the Verizon IndyCar Series in the future - set the second fastest time at 1:07.4733.
 
"It's a very good stepping stone into IndyCar and I hope I'll get to drive an Indy car one day," said Chilton. "It's been a successful, albeit short day for us, as I was P1 for much of the session until Ed pipped me at the end. We've been at the top of the charts at most of the tests. The hard work starts tomorrow by getting a good qualifying position for the race, since it's not particularly easy to overtake on a street circuit. I think either of us can go for the win but I'm going to try my hardest to get that."
 
Fellow series newcomers Scott Hargrove, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, and his Florida-based 8Star Motorsports team, turned the third fastest time at 1:07.5363, followed by Colombian Juan Piedrahita, who has joined defending champion team Belardi Auto Racing for his sophomore Indy Lights season and Matthew Brabham, with Andretti Autosport. Brabham, who became the first driver to win consecutive MAZDASPEED scholarships after winning the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in 2012 and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in 2013, finished fourth in his rookie season of Indy Lights in 2014.
 
"The Dallara IL-15 really is a fantastic car to drive," said Hargrove. "It was a great start to the weekend to finish P3 this morning. The 8Star car was phenomenal right out of the gate. For me to be P3 not having tested since January is a great start. I've raced in St. Pete for four years now and each year it gets bigger and better."
 
The Indy Lights cars will return to the track for qualifying tomorrow morning, March 28, at 9:30 am ET. The green flag for the first of two races will fly at 2:25 pm.
 
French Pair Buret and Latorre Fastest in Pro Mazda
French rookie drivers Timothé Buret and Florian Latorre topped the timing charts today during practice for the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which will comprise the first two rounds of the 2015 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
 
Buret, 19, from Montpellier, France, was fastest in this morning's opening practice session with a time of 1:12.6605 (89.182 mph) on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn downtown street circuit, driving for defending champion team Juncos Racing. Californian Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), who finished third in the 2014 title-chase, was just 0.1339s slower, followed by Malaysian Weiron Tan (Andretti Autosport) and Canadian Garett Grist (Juncos Racing).
 
This afternoon's second half-hour session was held on a damp track, so times were slightly slower. Latorre, who won last year's Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, as well as a MAZDASPEED scholarship to graduate into Pro Mazda, led the way with a 1:13.6933 lap in a second Cape Motorsports entry, followed by Englishman Raoul Owens (JDC MotorSports) and Canadian Dalton Kellett (Andretti Autosport).
 
Qualifying for the first of two Pro Mazda races will take place tomorrow morning at 8:45 am ET, followed by the first race at 1:30 pm ET.
 
Jake Eidson Heads the USF2000 Time Charts for Pabst Racing
Americans Jake Eidson and Aaron Telitz led the way after two practice sessions for the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which will constitute the opening two rounds of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
 
Eidson, 19, who splits his time between Littleton, Colo., and Destin, Fla., was fastest in both sessions for Pabst Racing, turning a best lap of 1:14.9865 (86.416 mph) in the afternoon session which was interrupted by a rain shower.
 
Aaron Telitz, from Birchwood, Wis., was just over a tenth of a second slower for St. Petersburg-based Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.
 
USF2000 cars will begin the track activities tomorrow (Saturday, March 28) with a half-hour qualifying session starting at 8:00 am. The first race will start a little later in the morning at 10:15.

Power Leads Opening Day of Practice at St. Petersburg

Written by
Published in Racing News
Friday, 27 March 2015 20:25
Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power kicked off the "aero era" by recording the quickest lap time in today's initial practice session for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Power's lap of 1 minute, 1.4709 seconds in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet breezed past the 2014 Verizon P1 Award-winning lap of 1:01.8668 produced by Takuma Sato on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit.

"It's awesome to be at an event where times actually count," stated Power. "Obviously not today, but tomorrow and Sunday. Good testing, and obviously, Team Penske has definitely made ground over the winter over the other teams. I think it's going to be a pretty interesting four-way battle amongst the team and Scott Dixon is right in there as well. I expect those five to be the championship contenders." (Comparing the performance of the car at St. Pete from last year to today): "I think it's just (about) understanding last year's mechanical balance of the car with the new aero stuff and just going through basic changes to see what they do. It was pretty straightforward for us. I think we rolled off pretty good with all four cars." (Which is contributing more to Chevrolet's dominance, the engine or the aero kit?): "I think it's both. I think they're better with the engine and the aero right now. It's hard to say which is more. I think they did a very good job with the aero kit, Chevy did."

Power was among five drivers, including Team Penske teammates Juan Pablo Montoya (1:01.6996) and Helio Castroneves (1:01.7000), to better last year's pole time, even without the Firestone Firehawk alternate tires that they'll be allowed to use in the three rounds of Saturday qualifications.

 "It's a long offseason for us, but to be honest with you, the last couple months have been pretty busy for us doing a lot of testing and preparation for this," Montoya added. "It's fun for me, second year back and I feel a lot better than last year. I think we have gained a lot over the winter with the car and I think it made a lot of difference." (On comparing how his car performed here last year and today): "Last year was a tough year for us at the beginning. We knew that. Normally I'm really good at remembering everything about every track and last year I think this was such a blur for me. I was so overwhelmed with everything that I didn't really pay too much attention to details. But I felt really good straight away (this year) that all of the work we did over the winter with the car made me really, really happy. I'm really comfortable with the car." (Did all four Team Penske drivers try different things today?) "Each engineer knows what their driver wants and it seems each one is doing his own thing. We have the data there, we have all the information. If somebody makes a change that works, we all know about it. We all drive so different. It's not so much the driving, it's the feeling that we want out of the car is so different. You look at us driving, it looks pretty similar but what we want the feel to be is very different. To get that feel, we achieve it in very different ways."

As a steady rain fell through the afternoon, no drivers turned laps in the companion session. Another practice session is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday preceding qualifications for the 110-lap race Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ABC).

Last year at St. Petersburg, James Hinchcliffe's lap of 1:02.9326 topped the first session.

"It was pretty straightforward for us. I think it's just understanding last year's mechanical balance of the car with the new aero stuff and just going through basic changes to see what they do," said Power, who won the season-opening race in March 2014 and earned the St. Petersburg pole four straight years from 2010-13.

"The kits produce massive downforce, low drag and the cars are absolutely glued to the track. Obviously, as we go along in the year we are going to learn more and more about what we need to push for wins."

Scott Dixon (1:01.7777) and Sebastien Bourdais (1:01.8439) also were quicker around the circuit than the 2014 pole time using the Chevrolet aero/engine package. Second-year driver Jack Hawksworth (1:01.8713) was quickest of the 12 Honda drivers.

Bourdais' track record of 1:00.928 (106.710 mph) set in qualifying for the inaugural Indy car race in 2003 could come under assault.

"We had a pretty good day in the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH machine," commented Bourdais. "We thought we had learned a lot of things at the Sebring test earlier this week, but they didn't quite carry over. So, we back pedaled quickly and went back to a more conventional street course setup that we know better. I didn't manage to do the perfect lap, but it put us back in a position that we are familiar with, in the top-five. We obviously couldn't make any progress in the afternoon session due to the rain. But looking forward to tomorrow, hopefully we will put it all together and have a good qualifying for the first race of the year."

Both manufacturers developed aerodynamic bodywork platforms for street/road course and short ovals along with a speedway package under INDYCAR regulations. The Chevrolet and Honda aero kits also look distinctly different.

There are multiple combinations of components that crews can utilize to tailor the package to suit drivers and a particular racetrack to optimize performance. They've had two weeks of on-track testing available to decipher the characteristics of the road/street and short oval package. The speedway aero kits are scheduled to be delivered to teams April 1 and make their competitive debut at the Indianapolis 500.

"There's a noticeable speed increase from last year and that's from downforce without a lot of drag penalty," said CFH Racing driver Josef Newgarden, who was 10th on the time chart. "They're very efficient packages and Chevrolet and Honda have spent millions of dollars into making the best aerodynamic pieces that they can.

"Everything on the car is lot more refined and it's just faster. That's the big difference in plain terms."

Added 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay: "Racing, first of all, is all about innovation and development and that's what we have with the aero kits. The engine manufacturers have been tasked to put on as much downforce as efficiently as possible, and what you see is a complete transformation of this Indy car where Chevy has its own look and brand and Honda has its own look and brand and stamp on the car.

"The performance is up, track records will be broken this year, and they look like you need to wear protective gloves around them, so they look awesome. They look like they should, which is incredibly fast and somewhat scary."

2014 NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion Chase Elliott joins NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan and Virginia’s own Timothy Peters as early headliners to race against host Denny Hamlin in the eighth-annual Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at South Boston Speedway on April 23. This 200-lap charity Late Model race showcases the best Late Model racers in the region against NASCAR counterparts with event proceeds benefiting the Denny Hamlin Foundation and its on-going support of Cystic Fibrosis research and treatment.

The trio join three more Virginia stock car racing natives Hermie Sadler, Jeb Burton and Gray Gaulding in going to battle against the likes of Late Model drivers Matt Bowling, the 2014 Showdown winner, and CE Falk, who was the first Late Model winner of the Showdown in 2010 at Southside Speedway.

“With a record amount of drivers committed to run the Short Track Showdown, this event looks to be one of the most competitive fields that we have seen,” said Hamlin, another Virginia native who last won the Showdown in 2011 at Richmond International Raceway. “None of these drivers like to lose, they are all as competitive as I am. Anyone of them can make it to victory lane.”

For racing fans wanting to get up-close to the drivers, the first 25 fans to purchase a “Suite Package” priced at $200 will be invited to join the drivers in the infield for the drivers meeting and an exclusive meet and greet with select celebrity drivers that will include autograph signing. (All proceeds from the Suite Package will go to the Denny Hamlin Foundation).

New for 2015, and an experience for the entire crowd to enjoy, Danville Toyota and Scion is sponsoring a fireworks show that will take place immediately following the 200-lap main event.

Advance tickets to the Short Track Showdown are available by calling the track ticket hotline at 1-877-440-1540. A limited amount of the 1,100 advance-discounted tickets are still available for $20. After the first 1,100 advance tickets are sold, the price increases to $25. Children ages 6 and under are free with an Adult ticket purchase. Season passes are not honored for this special event. The “Suite package” costs $200 and includes a meet and greet, autograph signing, and an invitation to the driver’s meeting. For more information, visit the South Boston Speedway website at southbostonspeedway.com and dennyhamlinfoundation.org.

Denny Hamlin Foundation PR

In his first full season of AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael's Road to Supercross, Team Babbitt's Monster Enegry/AMSOIL Kawasaki rider Chris Blose has experienced a little bit of everything in this highly competitive sport. With his dominant win last weekend in New Orleans, Blose seized control of the Race to the Championship and now enters the second stop of the six-round playoff battle in Austin, Texas, as the points leader.

 

Much like he did  in the Race to the Championship, Blose kicked off the 2015 season with a win in Cincinnati, but he soon found out how harsh AMSOIL Arenacross can be thanks to a big crash at the second round in Grand Rapids. Since then he has worked through injury, even missing some races, in hopes of being completely healthy for the Race to the Championship and his run to potentially win the first title of his career.

 

AMSOIL Arenacross caught up with Blose, who says he is back at 100-percent health, to get his thoughts on his first year and his intention to stay on top of the championship standings.

Chris, lets just start this by saying this has been quite the season of ups and downs for you. Can you talk about your first full season competing in AMSOIL Arenacross?

 

Yeah, this season has definitely had a lot of ups and downs up until this point. In the second round I had a really big crash involving tuff blocks and it really bruised my back. Since then, throughout every weekend it was kind of like 'lets just get through the weekend, get as many points as I can, and go for wins if I can.' But until I was 100 percent again I didn't want to over do it. My main focus up until this point has been to get back healthy, stay up and put in solid rides. I am now all healed up and feel like I am 100 percent.

 

You mentioned earlier in the season[that], you have never had injuries in your entire career as bad as you have had this season. What keeps you battling through and continuing to race every weekend despite the injuries?

 

I never had a choice in my mind; I had to battle through. It is the Race to the Championship; I had to stay top 10 in points, which meant I still had to go out there and do the best I could. I mean, it was very painful and even to the point where I needed help getting on my bike, but it seemed as though once I was on my bike I was fine and ready to go for the most part.

What were you feeling when you couldn't even get on your bike and you still had to race?

 

I mean, honestly going to the line and not being able to physically mount my bike on my own was a huge reality check that I could get hurt even more at any moment. To be able to go out and do what I love is awesome, but at the same time I was completely nervous because I didn't want to re-injure myself or get even more hurt. Yes, It was kind of a mental battle every weekend but in my mind ultimately I had no choice. I would say it was completely worth the risk because now I am where I want to be, fighting for this championship. For me, it may sound crazy, but I like pain, it pushes me harder and I feel like I have to man up and get the job done and fight through it. It makes me want to do better knowing I want to beat the pain and the competition. I know a lot of people would have folded and not raced after the injury that I had but it wasn't the case for me.

 

You started the Race to the Championship the same way you entered the season, with a win. What are you planning to change to keep things moving forward as the Race to the Championship continues?

 

I'm not changing a single thing. My mentality from day one has been to go out and win, and that's how I am going to continue. I have to take it race by race, but at the same time I am going there to win and obviously deal with the cards that get played out. But, I need to be consistent as possible and not do anything dumb. So I am always going out to win and be consistent. 

 

What is your game plan to win the title?

 

I can't give out my game plan - it's top secret!

 

What makes you feel you are the most qualified to win this championship?

 

You ask any rider that question and their response will be they want to win the championship and they feel as though they deserve it, but in the end only one person can win it. I feel like with my experience, my speed and my determination, I can do it. I know what it's like to fight for something and have to push my way back to the top. Failing is not an option for me and I will do whatever it takes to stay on top now. I want this championship more than anybody and up until the Race to the Championship I had a lot of bad luck, but now I feel awesome on the bike. Everything is starting to click for me and I just really cant wait for these last five rounds. I feel like all of the unfortunate circumstances are behind me. Yes, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time before, but now it's my time to shine.

 

The 11th round of AMSOIL Arenacross, and the second weekend of the Race to the Championship, kicks off this Saturday, March 28, from Austin, Texas, for the championship's debut inside Frank Erwin Center. Racing begins at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. PDT/7 p.m. CDT night.

 

Tickets for each round of AMSOIL Arenacross are on sale now!

 

The entire AMSOIL Arenacross season is now airing on FOX Sports 1, including re-airs on Fox Sports 2. Check out the Arenacross.com TV listings for a full schedule.

 

Live timing and scoring from each round of the AMSOIL Arenacross season returns for the 2015 season! To follow the intense racing action live, log onto www.Arenacross.com

 

Andretti Autosport confirmed today that Justin Wilson will join its Verizon IndyCar Series program for part of the 2015 season. The 36-year-old veteran driver will pilot the No. 25 Honda for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis as well as the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Wilson has competed in the Verizon IndyCar Series for 11 seasons, totaling seven wins, 26 podium finishes, eight pole positions and 700 laps led.

                        "I'm thrilled to be joining Andretti Autosport," said Wilson. “It's a fantastic opportunity for me and this should be a strong program. I'm looking forward to continuing my relationship with Honda and to working with Ryan (Hunter-Reay), Carlos (Muñoz) and Marco (Andretti). Thank you to Michael (Andretti) for bringing me on board and giving me this great opportunity. I know that the team has everything in place to do well, and I'm really confident about what the group is capable of this year.”

Hailing from Sheffield, England, Wilson began karting at the age of nine and just a year later began to receive international recognition becoming a finalist in the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year, providing the beginning stages of his campaign to Formula One racing.

                        After winning the FIA Formula 3000 championship title in 2001, the Englishman graduated to Formula One in 2003 and earned his first championship points in the United States Grand Prix. After moving his focus to the United States in 2004 he transitioned into IndyCar competition, taking his first victory in 2005. Wilson has also stayed active in IMSA competition winning the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“We are so happy to be able to confirm Justin has joined our IndyCar program for both races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said team owner Michael Andretti. “Having Justin on the team has been something we’ve been looking at for quite some time, so we’re excited to finally make it happen. Adding him to the roster for the Indy races is definitely going to be something special as we work to defend our 2014 victory.”

Wilson’s addition to the four-time IndyCar championship winning team comes on the heels of Simon de Silvestro’s confirmation with the Michael Andretti-led organization. Today’s announcement brings the Indianapolis-based team’s count to five total Verizon IndyCar Series drivers filling seats for 2015.  The season kicks off this weekend on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, FL for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete, which will air live on ABC Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Two Chevrolet Corvette teams took the points lead in their respective classes after Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, Round 2 of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

 

Action Express Racing used its victory by the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP to capture the lead in the Prototype (P) class of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, while Corvette Racing’s No. 3 Corvette C7.R scored its second triumph of the season, which opened with the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.

 

Two rounds now remain in the Patrón Endurance Cup, which encompasses 52 hours of racing for $300,000 in post-season awards. The competition continues with the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, June 28, and closes with the 10-hour Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta on Saturday, Oct. 3.

 

Action Express led two of the three segments at Sebring – coming up one point shy of a perfect 15 – to take over the Prototype lead with 27 points. Wayne Taylor Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates are tied for second with 21 points each, with VisitFlorida.com Racing fourth with 20. On the drivers’ ledger, Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais hold a two-point lead over Ganassi’s Scott Dixon (27-25).

 

The No. 3 Corvette Racing team also holds a six-point lead in GT Le Mans. Jan Magnussen, Ryan Briscoe and Antonio Garcia won the Sebring race to extend the gap over the team’s No. 4 Corvette C7.R driven by Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin and Simon Pagenaud in the team and driver standings, 29-23. Team Falken Tire and the No. 911 Porsche North America entrants are tied for third with 19 points each.

 

The Daytona-winning No. 93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT held on to a three-point lead in GT Daytona (GTD) over the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia, 27-24. Viper drivers Al Carter and Cameron Lawrence lead Ferrari pilots Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell and Anthony Lazzaro by the same margin.

 

The closest battle is in Prototype Challenge (PC), where the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports team with drivers Mike Guasch, Tom Kimber-Smith and Andrew Palmer took a one-point lead over the No. 54 CORE autosport team of Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and James Gue, 30-29. After taking the lead in the closing half-hour en route to winning the Rolex 24, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ran the table at Sebring, scoring a perfect 15 points. A year ago, CORE autosport won the three opening races to win the title.

 

Points in the Patrón Endurance Cup are awarded at specific intervals throughout each race – every four hours in the Twelve Hours of Sebring – with the leader at the end of each segment scoring five points, four points for second, three points for third, and fourth place on back receiving two points. Points will be scored at midway and the finish at Watkins Glen, and at four hours, eight hours and 10 hours at Petit Le Mans.

 

The Patrón Endurance Cup round winners at each endurance event receive a limited edition bottle of Gran Patrón Platinum, numbered and signed by Francisco Alcaraz, the creator of the Gran Patrón Platinum recipe and Tequila Patrón’s Master Distiller and Blender.

 

Racers started time runs in race 7 making impressive passes. As eliminations began the race was plagued by another unusual rain storm which positioned itself directly over the drag strip. As a heavy down pour halted the racing action for an hour, along with another two hours of track prep before it got back underway. An additional time run was given to all racers due to the newly prepped track. Once race 7 was completed, race 8 began with no more stops for weather. Racing concluded at 1:20 am on Sunday morning.

 
Top Eliminator (Box)
Points Leader: Bill Pollard - 322
Race #7

Robert Owens of Malabar, Fla. started the day off as the No. 1 qualifier with a pass of 5.975 ET. Owens continued through eliminations running within .01 seconds of that qualifying run each pass. In the finals, Owens faced off against David Bledsoe of Pembroke Pines, Fla. Bledsoe in his '06 Mullis dragster red lighted at the start giving Owens the victory. Owens dialed in a 5.97, running a 5.966 ET at 114.23 mph in his final pass. 

 
Race #8
In race 8 it was Bruce Liberman of West Palm Beach, Fla. that made an impressive move in the points standings during this race. After race 7 Liberman found himself in the 13th position, 112 points out of the lead, which all changed when he took his Spitzer dragster to victory. After finishing runner up in race 7, David Bledsoe found himself in the finals again facing Liberman for the win. Bledsoe dialed in a 4.75 hitting it right on the mark with a pass of 4.750 ET at 144.94 mph. Liberman dialing in at 4.95 missed his mark by .001 as he ran a 4.951 ET at 139.52 mph. Overall, it was Liberman taking victory from his .010 RT to Bledsoe's .015 RT. By taking victory, Liberman moved up to 3rd place in the points.
Super Eliminator (No Box)
Sponsored by Chassis Engineering
Points Leader: Sonny Freeland - 427 
Race #7
In No Box, Doug Parlamento of Lake Worth, Fla. qualified first and never looked back. Knocking out Sonny Freelan, the 2015 points leader, in round 3 Parlamento marched his way into the finals. John Taylor of Ft. Pierce, Fla. faced off against Parlamento for the final. In the end it was Parlamento with a dial in of 7.10 seconds running a 7.11, 97.97 mph to take victory over Taylor. 
 
Race #8
In race 8 of No Box it was Jeremy Jarosz of Boca Raton, Fls who qualified first. Jarosz was knocked out in round 4 by Ethan Doty of Margate, Fla.. Doty continued on to the final to face the 2015 points leader Sonny Freeland from Hollywood, Fla. In the final it was Freeland dialed in at 6.12 seconds to run a 6.177, 102.14 mph to defeat Doty dialed in at 9.67 seconds, running 9.770, 75.62 mph. The victory has now extended Freeland's points lead to 93.
Junior Dragster
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Points Leader: Jennifer Craft - 332
 
Race #7
Chase Purdy of Palm City, Fla. qualified in No. 1 position with a pass of 8.868 seconds. Purdy battled his way into the semi finals where he faced Bailey Ferraro from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. This race was decided right on the starting line as Ferraro fired a .011 second reaction time to Purdy's .086 on the tree. In the finals it was Ferraro facing Jennifer Craft of Melbourne, Fla. The result of this race was again decided on the starting line except it was due to a red light from Ferraro with a -.010. Craft won after dialing in 7.90 second to run a 7.912 at 82.56 and taking over the top spot in the points lead.
 
Race #8
In race 8 of Junior Dragster, Jennifer Craft continued her day of consistent runs all the way to the semi finals until she faced Amanda Foley, from Pompano Beach, Fla. Both drivers dialed in at 7.90 seconds. Foley ran a 7.913 to Craft's 7.904 but the win light to Foley. She fired a .014 reaction time on the tree to defeat Craft who reacted at .043 seconds. In the finals Foley faced an opponent she had not faced all day as Jimmy Cavanaugh of Melbourne, Fla. Both drivers red lighted at the tree but it was Foley with the -.003 second reaction that took the win over Cavanaugh's -.043.  The win moves Foley into the second spot in the points race.
Street Bike
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Points Leader: Tom Ivy - 277
 
Race #7
Tom Ivy, 2015 points leader, of Southwest Ranches, Fla. was knocked out in round 2 by Carl Mitchell of Miami Garden, Fla. Mitchell dialing in at 7.36 ran a 7.446, 100.31 mph but was defeated by Rodney Pimetal of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. in the semi filnals. Clarence Goins also from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. dialed in a 6.68 as he faced Pimetal, in at 7.80, for the finals. The win light went to Pimetal running a 8.066, 90.95 mph to Goins' 6.831, 109.99 mph. The .524 reaction time of Goins hurt him as Pimetal had a start of .169 as he took victory. 
 
Race #8
After getting knocked out in the second round of race #5 Joshua Howard of Stuart, FL made it to the final round in this race. Howard had stiff competition as he faced Tom Ivy who was hot off the win earlier in the day. Once again it was Ivy taking home victory as he dialed in a 5.34 to run a 5.480 ET at 112.27 mph. After two wins in the same day Ivy increased his points lead in the championship to 65 points over second.
Points Leaders
 
Top Eliminator (Box)
Sponsored by South Florida Choppers 
Driver Name - Car #
Hometown
Body
Points
1) Bill Pollard - 2462
Lake Worth, Fla.
'03 Cavalier
322
2) Randy Weber - RX84
Loxahatchee, Fla.
'12 Miller
312
3) Bruce Liberman - LX75
West Palm Beach, Fla.
Spitzer
262
 
Super Eliminator (No Box)
Sponsored by Chassis Engineering
Driver Name - Car #
Hometown
Body
Points
1) Sonny Freeland - 2XYA 
Hollywood, Fla.

 

427
2) John Taylor - T209
Ft. Pierce, Fla.
'73 GTX 
334 
3) Richard Mortell - 0X47  
Lake Worth, Fla.
'96 Corvette 
323
Junior Dragster
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Driver Name - Car #
Hometown
Body
Points
1) Jennifer Craft - 276X
Melbourne, Fla.
'06 Jr. Dragster
332
2) Amanda Foley - 211X
Pompano Beach, Fla.
Jr. Dragster
314
3) Kyle Philhower - 038X
Pompano Beach, Fla.
Jr. Dragster
272
Street Bike
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Driver Name - Car #
Hometown
Body
Points
1) Tom Ivy - 511
Southwest Ranches, Fla.
Suzuki
277
2) Rodney Pimetal - 78
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
'07 Suzuki GSXR
225
3) Clarence Goins - 50
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Kawasaki
202

Martin Wins Round 3 GTS Race at St. Petersburg

Written by
Published in Racing News
Friday, 27 March 2015 17:20
Dean Martin, of Westland, MI, won the Round 3 GTS race on the Streets of St. Petersburg, at the Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Kurt Rezzetano, of Phoenixville, PA finished second and Spencer Pumpelly, of Atlanta, GA, finished third.                        
 
Starting from pole, Martin, in the No. 50 Rehagen Racing/Picture Cars East Ford Mustang Boss 302 got a great start rocketing off the line when the lights went out to lead into the first turn. Behind Martin, Rezzetano, in the No. 37 Calvert Dynamics/Phoenix Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302 also had a great start moving up from sixth on the grid to second through turn 1 and was awarded the Cadillac Move of the Race for the feat. Pumpelly, in the No. 87 DWW Motorsports/ iTrackzone.com Ford Mustang  Boss 302, started second and followed in behind Rezzetano for third. Kia Racing teammates Mark Wilkins, of Toronto, ON in the No. 38 Kinetic Motorsports/Kia Racing PutOnTheBrakes.Org Kia Optima and Ben Clucas, of Northampton, England in the No. 36 Kinetic Motorsports / Kia Racing DonorsChoose.Org Kia Optima who had started third and fifth respectively on the grid took up the battle after the first turn in fourth and fifth.                        
 
                         Coming into the St. Petersburg weekend, GTS points leader Kris Wilson, of Monument, CO, in the No. 07 Orion/Royal Purple/LaSalle Solutions/PassTime USA TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4 started 19th on the grid after a mechanical issue prior to Thursday's qualifying session did not allow him to post a time. On the start, Wilson gained seven positions earning him the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award.                        
 
                         Through laps 1 to 9, Martin, Rezzetano, Pumpelly, Wilkins and Clucas held position with Andrew Aquilante, of Chester Springs, PA, in the No. 32 Calvert Dynamics/Phoenix Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302 closing up the gap on the top five after falling off the leaders from the standing start. Aquilante had started fourth on the grid.                        
 
                         By lap 10, Aquilante passed Clucas for fifth and set his sights on Wilkins. By lap 19, Aquilante moved pass Wilkins out braking the driver of the No. 38 car through turn 1. On lap 24 though, Aquilante's Boss 302 encountered a mechanical issue and he retired from the race.                        
 
                         Up front, Martin put a gap of 1.5 seconds on Rezzetano, but by lap 26 the driver of the No. 37 Boss 302 had closed to within under a second and by lap 30 it was down to under half a second. Pumpelly held firm in third with teammates Wilkins and Clucas having a spirited battle for fourth. Joining that battle was Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, GA, in the No. 73 RESET-MD Porsche Cayman S , who had started ninth, followed closely by Wilson who had passed over half the field to get  back into contention. Wilson would claim the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award gaining 14 positions on the day.                        
 
                         On lap 31, Baldwin moved up to fourth with deft moves on both Wilkins and Clucas. Wilson followed Baldwin to climb into fifth. The pass on Clucas earned Baldwin the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race Award.                        
 
                         By lap 33, it was Martin, who had now gained back a second lead on Rezzetano, Pumpelly in third, Baldwin fourth, and Wilson fifth. As the checkered flew, Martin claimed his fifth career Pirelli World Challenge win with all his series victories coming on street courses. With a fastest lap of the race at 1:19.841, Martin will start on pole for Saturday's Round 4 race.                         
 
                         "It's always nice when you can qualify on pole position and then lead flag-to-flag with the fastest lap," said Martin. "The street courses are such that when you are up front it's tough to pass so you just want to stay there. I did have a moment where I bounced it off the wall in Turn 3 but other than that it was good. The Mustang is great on the street courses. My style works on street courses, and we talk about it, I have a low self preservation factor. You have to ignore  the fact that the walls are there and don't get intimidated. Because if something happens on the street course with the walls, you are a pancake. You just have to have faith in the car. With the Mustang everytime I go to the brake or throttle I know its going to be there."                        
 
                         "Thank you to the crew for giving me a car that was really pretty good today," said Rezzetano. "We did a decent start and I was surprised because I thought I got some wheel spin but then I looked over and saw I was in front of Spencer. I worked hard to get heat in the tires on the warm up lap and then went back to my drag racing days to focus on the standing start. The Mustang is a great car for the standing starts. Once we all got going I could see that Dean was driving  a smart race and gauging me and my pace. When I saw him brush the wall in Turn 3, I thought I might have a chance. But then we got into traffic and it got pretty interesting."                        
 
                         "Thank you to everyone on the team for being here. It was a lot of fun today for me," said Pumpelly. "I watch every PWC race and follow timing and scoring when I'm at home and its great to be here now to be apart of it. The series as you can see is really going somewhere. Driving the Mustang was a ton of fun and the throttle response is great. Coming from endurance racing to this series is a huge difference. For me a big difference is the focus on setting the car  up for me only. This is something I will continue to work on because in the endurance world we as a team have to work on two drivers in one car."                        
 
                         Results are provisional until posted final. With the win, Martin takes over the points lead from Wilson who now sits in second.                        
 
                         GTS Round 4 is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, March 28th. Watch live streaming of the race at world-challengetv.com and www.torque.tv. GTS Round 3 airs on CBS Sports Network Sunday, April 5 starting at 5 p.m. eastern.                        
 
WC Vision President and CEO Scott Bove announced today that the Pirelli World Challenge Championships series will be joined by the European-based Blancpain GT Series for the 2016 season opener at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.                     
                                            
This global premiere of North America's top production car-based sprint racing championships and the SRO Motorsports-owned International Blancpain tour will take place at the state-of-the-art 3.427-mile, 20-turn circuit on March 4-6, 2016.                     
                                            
This action packed event will mark the first time that the two premiere production car-based sports car series will compete on the same weekend giving the fans in attendance and viewers at home world-class racing never seen on the same event weekend. In addition, this partnership invites the Pirelli World Challenge Championships to compete at a Blancpain GT Series event weekend in Italy in 2016, marking the first time the PWC series will compete outside North America in its  26-year history.                      
                                            
"The Pirelli World Challenge and Blancpain GT Series share similar desires to expand their product outside their existing markets," said Bove. "Pirelli is the common denominator being the Official Tire for both series. PWC has developed a strong worldwide presence with international drivers, teams and manufacturers competing in our series. It's now time to take our brand of racing to the global stage as a true World Challenge."                     

 "For 2015, the top three GT drivers in the PWC GT Championships will be invited to participate in the Blancpain GT Series finale at Baku. And then for 2016, we open our season again at Circuit of the Americas with the Blancpain GT Series. Towards the end of 2016, our GT class will be competing at one SRO Blancpain Sprint race either at Misano or Vallelunga."                     
                                            
"Getting an American circuit on the Blancpain GT Series' calendar has always been one of my pet projects," said Stephane Ratel, CEO and Founder SRO Motorsports Group. "The best way to do that is to work together with people who know the ins and outs of racing in the United States. The organizers of the Pirelli World Challenge and the people at SRO Motorsports Group share the same philosophy on GT racing: it should be competitive, spectacular and entertaining for the fans. It  is no use for each of us to do our own thing in our own corner, when sharing our knowledge could produce far better results."                     
                                            
Both North American and international sports car series exclusively utilize Pirelli tires. Pirelli & C. SpA, established in 1922, is a multinational company based in Milan, Italy and is present in over 160 countries. Pirelli has 19 manufacturing sites around the world and a network of around 10,000 distributors and retailers. Pirelli has been involved in motorsports since 1907 and is currently the exclusive tire supplier for the Formula One Championship.                     
                                            
"We couldn't be happier to see this relationship come together," said Rafael Navarro, Vice President, Communications, Media Relations and Motorsports, Pirelli Tire North America. "Pirelli has a very close relationship with both SRO and WC Vision and the P Zero tire is the official tire for both series. From a technical development and worldwide marketing standpoint, the cooperation between the two series makes perfect sense, and Pirelli is excited be involved as a major partner."                     
                                            
Competition in the Pirelli World Challenge and the Blancpain GT Series is some of the most exciting and dramatic in all of motorsports with over 20 manufacturers battling door-to-door in multi-class action at some of the world's most famous and legendary racing facilities.                     
                                            
The global doubleheader at COTA on March 4-6, 2016 will bring a global sports car presence to one site that will promise to supply non-stop action for the racing enthusiasts and worldwide television viewing audience.
A discovery Jay Patel made while climbing out of bed in late February at his Indiana home led him on an unlikely journey to the podium three weeks later at Sebring International Raceway.

 

Patel, from Crown Point, Indiana, overcame the pain from a broken left foot suffered in a crash during testing in late February at NOLA Motorsports Park to finish third in the Platinum Masters class in Round 2 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama at Sebring.

 

"I've never had an incident like this," Patel said. "I've never broken a bone. And I decided to get into a race car and race Sebring, and with the competition level we have, you have to give it your all.

 

"For me, it was more than giving your all. It was the psychological aspect of what occurred a couple of weeks prior and also dealing with the foot at the same time, the driving, and keeping it all together. We had the heat, too. There was a lot going on for me. Like anything, I had to keep my calm and just focus on what I had to do, and that was what got me where I was."

 

The third-place finish was the sweet culmination of a winding path back into the cockpit of his No. 00 Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car after the crash in testing.

 

Before Patel even visited the hospital, he checked with Kelly-Moss Vice President Jeff Stone about the condition of his car and whether it could be repaired in time for Sebring.

 

"I talked to Jeff Stone, and he said he could get a new tub and get the car rebuilt." Patel said. "(His) question is whether you'll be ready for Sebring. My attitude is to never give up, so I said, 'I'll be there.' That's just the positive attitude.

 

"But who knows what was going to happen. That was before I went to the hospital. I knew I broke (the foot), but I didn't know how long or how bad it was going to be, whether I could walk on it. But I was just being optimistic."

 

His positive attitude jumped into high gear after a chance occurrence a few days after he suffered the injury.

 

Patel, a physician specializing in interventional radiology, and his father, an orthopedic surgeon, were mulling treatment options for his injured foot as Jay hobbled around in an immobilizing boot. His injury, known as a Jones fracture, can heal by itself or require an operation.

 

Then one night, about five days after the injury, Jay Patel received an emergency call to report to the hospital for a patient.

 

He climbed from his bed to prepare to rush into work, walking around his home -- without the immobilizing boot on his left foot.

 

"I said, 'Whoa, wait a minute,' Patel said. "I was walking. I thought, 'Why don't I put a shoe on and go to work?' I put on a bit bigger shoe. From then, I thought maybe this thing will heal up on time for Sebring."

 

Another turning point came about a week to 10 days before the season-opening rounds March 19-20 at Sebring. Patel decided to work out for about 45 minutes on an elliptical bike and a treadmill to check the pain levels of his foot. He tolerated the pain, and his foot felt good.

 

But there still was one mental barrier to scale. The 17-turn, 3.74-mile circuit at Sebring is notoriously rough and bumpy. It's one of the toughest, most physical tracks in the world for drivers without a fractured foot bouncing around the cockpit.

 

But Patel dismissed any second thoughts almost immediately. Sebring was a go.

 

"The thought did cross my mind," Patel said about skipping Sebring. "But I was looking forward to Sebring, and Sebring is a challenge, and that's part of the whole reason why I wanted to go to Sebring, for the challenge of it. I knew I was going to be in pain and have some discomfort, but it was one of those things, it's my commitment to it. I was committed. I said I was going to do it."

 

Patel and the Kelly-Moss team made a few modifications so he could be comfortable at the track. First, Patel wore his driving shoes from the 2014 season, which were softer and more broken in, giving his swollen left foot more room. Kelly-Moss also added padding to the foot area of the cockpit of his No. 00 Porsche.

 

And most importantly, the Kelly-Moss crew and Patel's wife, Nancy, had a bucket of ice ready for his foot after every on-track session at Sebring.

 

Patel also adjusted his driving style to compensate for his foot. The jostling g-forces generated by the bumpy turns at Sebring often require a driver to brace their body with their left foot. That was a problem for Patel until he used a technique that also helps him drive his Porsche with more speed.

 

"Every time I had to go through the corner, I had to balance where the pain is and bouncing around the car," Patel said. "So if I started feeling it in the upper aspect of the foot, I would shift the load to the lower aspect of the foot. It's the same thing as driving. When you're going around that corner, you're balancing the car, and I was balancing my foot at the same time."

 

The third-place finish in Round 2 was Patel's first trip to the podium for the powerful Kelly-Moss team, which he joined during the offseason. Patel debuted in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama with Dempsey Racing in 2014, scoring two podium finishes and placing fifth in the Platinum Masters standings.

 

When it became clear last year Dempsey Racing was shifting its competition focus in 2015, Patel started conversations with Stone and the Kelly-Moss organization. He was impressed with the team's driving coaching and development last season, especially the progress of Platinum Cup champion Colin Thompson in 2014.

 

That made for an easy decision for Patel, 46, to join Kelly-Moss in 2015.

 

"I'm learning to drive better and at this level," Patel said. "I need as much education and staffing that I can because I'm relatively new to this sport. So why not get the best coaches I can to help me move along and see where I can go with this?"

 

Patel's motorsports experience started in the grandstands of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, watching the Indianapolis 500 with his father. That experienced spawned similar racing dreams as many young Indiana boys, unfulfilled wishes for many.

 

But Patel never lost touch with that dream. His true immersion into racing began in a Wegmans' grocery store parking lot in 2001 in Rochester, New York.

 

Patel was working at hospitals in the Rochester area, finishing his final medical studies and preparations. A man approached him in the grocery store parking lot after noticing his BMW passenger car and asked Patel if he was interested in taking the car on a racetrack. Patel said yes, and he was told to report to Watkins Glen International - located about 90 minutes south of Rochester - with his car on a certain date.

 

With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, Patel bought safety equipment and found a shop that prepped his car for a driver education day. Patel headed to The Glen.

 

"I went around the track, and I was pretty bad," Patel said. "The instructor got in the car and said, 'Let me show you how it's done.' I did it, and I emulated him as best as I could. It was a big improvement, and one thing led to another."

 

Patel moved to the Chicago area and started participating in track days in a Porsche at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois. In 2007, a friend who was a driving instructor suggested Patel should try racing.

 

The friend also said Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup champion Wolf Henzler was coming to Road America soon and would be willing to coach Patel for a day. Patel jumped at the chance to learn and receive an honest assessment from the Porsche GT star.

 

"I spent the day with him, and I said: 'OK, tell it to me like it is. Here's what's going on. Someone told me I should go racing. What's your opinion?' He said, 'Go racing.' That's when we decided we were going racing."

 

Patel jumped into Sports Car Club of America competition in 2008 in a BMW fielded by Chicago-area team Fall-Line Motorsports, eventually moving to a Porsche 996. He finished fourth in 2013 in the Touring 2 class of the SCCA National Championship Runoffs.

 

His engineer, Jim Bell, asked Patel about his goals for racing after that strong finish in the Runoffs. Patel said he wanted to race in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and maybe the 24 Hours of Le Mans, earning his way as a driver. Bell had just landed a job with Dempsey Racing and invited Patel to the Roar Before the 24 in January 2014 at Daytona International Speedway.

 

Patel turned laps at Daytona, and the Dempsey team brain trust suggested the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama would be a great place for him to learn and improve his skill amid challenging competition.

 

"Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster and Jim Bell said it would be a good opportunity, and I talked with my wife and said: 'Let's do this. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.'"

 

Patel is making the most of that opportunity this season with a new team, even with a temporary hitch in his stride to the podium.

 

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