|September 6, 1998 - Buttonwillow Raceway Park - Round Eleven (20 Laps)|
|Lacy Ups Win
Streak To Four-In-A-Row
Ian Lacy, current Star Mazda points leader and top contender for rookie-of-the-year honors, scored his seventh win of the season and his fourth consecutive victory--a streak that began with the July 26 race at Laguna Seca. The Stacy Suspension Systems team driver led all 20 laps of the the race that was held in conjunction with Cal Club's traditional Labor Day weekend National.
"This really wasn't an easy win," Lacy said. "I had to drive hard because the car got loose toward the end and I knew Mike was right there."
Referring to Worldspeed's Mikel Miller, who finished second and set the race's fastest lap, Lacy was specifically concerned with the lapped cars he encountered toward the end of the race. "There were some definite 'moments' in traffic," Lacy explained. "Mikel really took advantage of those situations and I could see him closing."
Lacy, who had qualified on the pole by a scant 0.3sec faster than Miller, jumped into the early lead as the 23-car field funneled through Buttonwillow's Turn One (Cal Club had chosen course #25, which is a 2.92-mile, clockwise configuration that utilizes the newly re-named "Phil Hill," aka Magic Mountain, and the Star Mazda Turn on the north end of the West Loop.) Most of the group made it through the first left-hander, but a few got tangled in the rush, including Bob Hatle, Will Hill and Kenton Loewenn. Luckily, everyone managed to clear the track and continue, albeit some minor damage.
Up front, Lacy managed to pull away from Miller, who likewise, distanced himself from Lacy's S3 teammate Bruno Lambert and fellow WorldSpeed driver Jeff Bucknum. Behind this duo, Valley Motor Center's Jim Hall II paced S3 driver Kevin Jenkins, rookies Joey Hand and Daniel Muniz, also a Valley team driver. Jenkins, however, was the most aggressive as he made several attempts to get by Hall in the opening circuits. On lap five, both Jenkins and Hand got by Hall, who was struggling with an engine that was cutting out in the right-hand turns. Hall eventually succombed to Muniz' threats, and then, on lap 17, had to let Sara Senske power by as well.
"I discovered if I drove slowly in the right-handers, it was OK," said Hall, who still managed to salvage a ninth-place finish. With Lacy cruising out front, Miller mounted a final charge, but fell short when the checker flew. "I just ran out of time," said Miller, who is still second in the point standings. "I could gain some ground going into the East Loop and the long sweeper, but Ian had the grunt out of the corners."
The biggest drama of the race occured on the last lap for third place between Lambert and Bucknum. "My car got very loose at the end and Jeff took advantage of that as we went into Turn One," Lambert said. "There wasn't anything I could do to stop him, but it was good to be running at the front again. This really helped my confidence."
Bucknum acknowledged he could see Lambert was losing grip on the race track. "I concentrated on driving clean laps because I knew where I could catch him," said Bucknum. "He wasn't going to let me by in the last turn before the straight, but I swung out and broke early, which I think fooled him into thinking I wasn't going to attempt the pass." Bucknum still had to keep Lambert behind him for a full lap to the checker, which wasn't easy considering he'd lost the top portion of the bodywork off his race car--the piece that includes both side-view mirrors. "I had no idea where he was that entire last lap," Bucknum admitted.
There were other terrific races on the track, included dices between Jenkins--who admitted the race was more eventful that he would have liked--and Hand, and then Hand and Muniz. "I really had a handful," Hand said. "I smoked the brakes early and we were a little down on power, but I still managed to run my quickest laps of the weekend in the race."
At the checker, Lacy took the win with nearly a second to spare over Miller, who finished about 13 seconds ahead of Bucknum and Lambert. In the championship race, Lacy increased his lead over Miller by 46 points at 319 to 273. Bucknum maintains third at 253 with Jenkins fourth at 233. Rounding out the top five is Hall at 215. In the Master's Series, Bob Hatle holds onto first with 168 points. Will Hill moves into second at 133, with Frank McCormick is third at 124. Round 12 of the Star Mazda Series is slated for Oct. 10 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in conjunction with the IRL Indy Cars.
Top 10 Point Standings (After 11 of 13 rounds):
1. Lacy, 319; 2. Miller, 273; 3. Bucknum, 253; 4. Jenkins, 33; 5. Hall II, 215; 6. Hand, 213; 7. Senske, 201; 8. Muniz, 192; 9. Steele, 162; 10. Lambert, 143.
Top 5 Master SeriesPoint Standings (After 11 of 13 rounds):
1. Hatle, 168; 2. Hill, 133; 3. Frank McCormick, 124; 4. Dick Downs, 106; 5. Dan Weyland, 95.
|9th||Jim Hall II|
|Time of Race: 36m10.049s
Race Average Speed: 96.883mph
Lap Leaders: Lacy 1-20
Fastest Lap: Miller, 1:47.738 (97.570mph)
Margin of Victory: 0.993sec