|April 26, 1998 - Buttonwillow Raceway Park - Round Two (20 Laps)|
|Lacy's Win Is
Victory Over Points Leader Miller
SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 1998, BUTTONWILLOW RACEWAY PARK-An impressive 43 Formula Mazdas-led by series rookie Ian Lacy, of Arcata, Calif.-took the green for the second round of the west division Star Mazda Series. Held in conjunction with Cal Club's National on Buttonwillow Raceway Park's 2.91-mile road course, the Star Mazda race also doubled as an SCCA National Formula Mazda points-counting event.
From the pole position, Stacy Suspension Systems team driver Lacy held off World Speed's persistent Mike Miller, of Rohnert Park, Calif., who actually led the middle portions of the 20-lap race. Lacy's qualifying effort put him at the top of the time sheet with more than a half-second advantage over Miller and third-fastest qualifier Steve O'Hara, of Laguna Hills, Calif. But, holding off Miller, O'Hara and the rest of the top five qualifiers like World Speed's Jeff Bucknum (son of Ronnie Bucknum, Honda's first Formula 1 driver), of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and Michael Potekhen, of Silverthorn, Colo.-especially down Buttonwillow's famous 3,800-foot straight-wasn't going to be easy. In fact, lurking just behind this group were even more hungry drivers like Valley Motor Center's rookie contender Daniel Muniz, Lynx Racing's Sara Senske; IKF kart champion Joey Hand; last year's Star Mazda championship runner-up Jim Hall II; and series veteran Kevin Jenkins.
Getting 43 drivers organized for the start took two attempts as Lacy and Miller brought the 22 rows of cars counter-clockwise out of the Star Mazda turn. On their second try, the green was shown and Lacy out-drag raced Miller into the high-speed "Talladega" left-hander. First Bucknum, then Muniz tried to tuck in behind the lead duo, but Lacy and Miller were setting a blistering pace that quickly distanced them from the rest of the pack. For nine laps, Miller hounded Lacy, trying every move he'd honed in his first year of Star Mazda competition. What finally worked for Miller, however, was a pass for the lead as the pair encountered traffic and crested the hill on the East Loop.
With Miller now out front at the lap 11 mark, traffic was again going to play a role in how the race would progress. Both Miller and Lacy navigated through the hectic course well until lap 17 as the pair headed into the Star Mazda turn.
"I sure saw this coming," said Lacy of the traffic jam that practically brought Miller to a complete stop. "It got real crowded," Miller said. "And, that's where Ian got back around me while we were lapping cars. I think I might have been able to hold him off, but I just couldn't pull away."
With less than three laps to go (which translates to a long 8.73 miles), it was still a race between Lacy and Miller, who was definitely setting up for a last lap, last turn charge. But, Lacy, a Russell Racing driving instructor, kept his composure and held off Miller by 1.702 seconds at the checker.
Completing the podium was Muniz, who drove a steady race to claim third overall. Hand crossed the finish line in fourth after a race-long battle with road course specialist O'Hara. Senske, who had earlier challenged Hand and O'Hara, finished sixth, just ahead of World Speed's Bruno Lambert. Jenkins and Hall finished eighth and ninth, respectively, after a great two-car race for position. Valley's Scott Follmer rounded out the top 10.
Miller retains his clutch on the series point standings at 64, with Lacy jumping into second at 54 points. In the Master Series standings, Dick Downs is still in first with 36 points, followed by Bennett Dorrance at 28.
|9th||Jim Hall II|
|Time of Race: 35m51.092s
Race Average Speed: 97.402 mph
Lap Leaders: Lacy 1-10, 17-20; Miller 11-16
Fastest Lap: Lacy - 1:47.775 (97.203mph)
Margin of Victory: 1.702sec