|July 26, 1998 - Laguna Seca Raceway - Round Eight (21 Laps)|
Championship Lead With Laguna Win
Ian Lacy added a fourth Star Mazda Series win to his string of top five finishes, increasing his championship lead over Mikel Miller by 24 points with five races left in the season. Lacy, who drives out of the busy Stacy Suspension System stable, was actually unchallenged over the 21-lap race which ran green from start to finish-a real credit to all 41 starters. Jeff Bucknum, the second fast qualifier, held the runner-up position all the way to the checker, which was a little frustrating for the son of F1, Indy car, Trans-Am and sports car legend Ronnie Bucknum.
"We made some guesses on the set-up for the race, but I just couldn't get 100 percent grip in the corners," Bucknum said. Like Bucknum, Lacy's team struggled to balance their Formula Mazda. "We got our car working well in the warmer temperatures, so it was fast in qualifying and luckily, the weather was the same for the race."
Behind Lacy and Bucknum, third-fast qualifier Kevin Jenkins was locked in a terrific battle for the final podium position with teammate Sara Senske. Behind this pair, Nick Steele and Mike Potekhen followed in a race for fifth.
"The plan for the race was to be the first one into Turn One and then hold on," Lacy said. "I spent the first half of the race just trying to keep a safe margin over Jeff."
Bucknum, who was struggling with a car that just wouldn't work in the heat of the day, knew staying with Lacy at the beginning of the race was going to be the key to mounting a challenge for the lead. "The big difference was the first three laps when Ian just pulled away," Bucknum said. "That car was all we had for this race."
Lacy's team, however, eventually settled on a set-up that just got better when they mounted new tires. "We used all the practice sessions we could," Lacy said. "At first, we were making little changes and then we had to start making big ones. In the race, the car was perfect."
As we mentioned earlier, the race ran green for all 46.998 miles of the 2.238-mile course, but there were some instances of close calls, including Miller's opening lap mishap that sent him back to 26th place from his fourth-fast qualifying position. Even without the benefit of a full-course yellow, Miller still managed to work his way back up to a commendable eighth place at the checker.
Valley's Daniel Muniz struggled with a fuel pick-up problem that dropped him from fifth with three laps to go, to 10th at the line just behind Bob Negron. Pikes Peak winner Joey Hand struggled all race long with brake problems, falling from his eighth-place qualifying position to last when he headed to the pits on the warm-up lap for mechanical assistance.
In the championship race, Lacy leads Miller by 24 points at 214 to 186. Third is Bucknum at 169 with Jenkins a close fourth at 168. Rounding out the top five is Hall at 164. In the Master Series, Bob Hatle holds onto first with 124 points. Second is Frank McCormick at 96, with Will Hill third at 87.
Top 10 Point Standings (After 8 of 13 rounds):
1. Lacy, 214; 2. Miller, 186; 3. Bucknum, 169; 4. Jenkins, 168; 5. Hall II, 164; 6. Muniz, 152; 7. Hand, 151; 8. Senske, 150; 9. Steele, 141; 10. Snyder, 105.
Top 5 Master Series Point Standings (After 8 of 13 rounds):
1. Hatle, 124; 2. McCormick, 96; 3. Hill, 87; 4. Weyland, 77; 5. Mabey, 67.
|7th||Jim Hall II|
|Time of Race: 31m31.447s
Race Average Speed: 89.452mph
Lap Leaders: Lacy 1-21
Fastest Lap: Lacy, 1:28.979 (90.540mph)
Margin of Victory: 4.542sec