|July 24, 1999 - Sears Point Raceway|
Win Moves Him To Top Of Both Point Tallies
Joey Hand won his fourth Star Mazda race of the year, besting a 35-car field that comprised the fourth race in the Best Western Championship as well as Round 6 of the Star Mazda Series West Division schedule. Polesitter Jeff Bucknum finished second, just 0.680sec behind Hand at the checker. Completing the podium was 20-year-old Mike Potekhen. Hand's win moves him ahead of Tim Enoch in both the Best Western and West Division championship point standings.
The action-packed race, which was a support event for the American LeMans Series, got off to a shaky start when third-fast qualifier Enoch and fourth-placed Potkehen went side-by-side through Turn One and up the hill to Turn Two, where the pair ran out of room. With neither about to give up much real estate, Potekhen slid wide, which forced Enoch to the outside edge of the track and into the dirt. This development panicked everyone behind them and major commotion ensued. When all the dust settled, 10th-place starter Alan Benson and 24th-place qualifier Chris Emanuel were the permanently sidelined victims, although other cars made it around to the pits for minor repairs, but were able to continue.
So, just half a lap into the race, full-course yellows were shown. Hand, though, got ahead of Bucknum before the track went to a caution conditions, which ended up being the only pass for the lead. As Bucknum paced Hand into the newly reconfigured Turn Seven, Hand went to the inside, but Bucknum defended the line. Hand then went outside and Bucknum reacted again. Hand's last move to the inside paid off as Bucknum was past his braking point and had to relinquish the position to Hand.
"I couldn't get through Turn Six fast enough and Joey got a run on me over to Turn Seven," the Shames Construction/World Speed driver said. "As we were playing the inside/outside game, I was already past the braking point and that's when Joey went by."
Track clean-up lasted four laps with Hand, Bucknum, Potekhen, Sara Senske, Brandon Peterson, Pierre Ehret, Enoch, Bruno Lambert, Alex Figge and David Lewis the top 10 lined up behind the pace car. When the green came out on lap five, Enoch was on the move as he tried to work his way back up to the front. Getting by Ehret was his first chore, and it wasn't easy as Ehret was running hard and fast while dicing with Lambert. During what would turn out to be the longest green segment of the race (six laps!), Enoch moved up to fifth behind Senske.
Up front, the positions remained intact with equal distance separating Hand, Bucknum and Potekhen. Senske, however, had her hands full holding off Peterson and Enoch until a full-course yellow was shown on lap 11 for David Sterenberg, who had been nudged into the outside cement wall at the exit of Turn 11.
With the track clear once again, the green was shown on lap 15, but lasted just two circuits when Tom Barnett found himself wedged into the tires at Turn Two. With the 45-minute window closing fast, the course went green again on lap 20 for a three-lap sprint to the checker. Hand looked to be in command, but Bucknum was under attack from Potekhen and Potekhen was defending third from Enoch, who had gotten by Senske during the previous two-lap green opportunity.
"Honestly, my rear tires started going off and the track got loose toward the end," said Stacy Suspension Systems driver Hand, whose racing efforts are supported Red Line Oil, Maaco Auto Painting and Vacaville, Calif., and Emmick Racing Karts. "I couldn't pull Jeff anymore on the straights."
Potekhen registered his fourth podium finish of the season, beating Best Western-sponsored Enoch to the line by a scant 0.235sec. Although lap charts reveal the Shifty Business/Twin Season Vacations-sponsored driver held third for the duration of the race, Senske did take advantage of Potekhen's missed shift on the first re-start. "Sara got by me into Turn One, but I stayed close and got back by when she overshot Turn Two," Potekhen said. "After that last yellow, everything got bunched back up, so it was a great race to the finish with Jeff, me and Tim."
Senske, who was also driving in the Women's Global GT event this weekend, finished fifth. Valley Motor Center's Peterson claimed sixth by holding off World Speed's Lambert. Eighth place went to what has to be the hard-charging drive of the race by Land Title/Alpine Bank-sponsored Matt Beardsley, who crashed his Valley Motor Center-prepared racer in the last practice session on Friday and then started from 27th when the gearbox quit just three laps into the qualifying session. Ninth went to Eurosport Racing driver Dick Downs, who came from 16th on the grid. Downs' son Matt was also competing with Eurosport and finished 12th. Rounding out the top 10 was an impressive drive from World Speed rookie Leonardo Maia.
In the Star Mazda Series Best Western Championship points race, Hand now leads Enoch 159 to 155 with Bucknum third at 153. Fourth in points is Potekhen with 138, followed by Senske at 128.
In Star Mazda Series West Division Championship point standings, Hand is also in the lead with 231 points. Second is Enoch at 221 with Bucknum third at 217. Potekhen is fourth with 215 and Senske rounds out the top five at 197.
This race is scheduled to be televised on espn2 on Friday, Sept. 17, at 6:30 p.m. EST, with a second air date of Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 5:30 a.m. EST. Please double check your local listings to confirm dates and time of broadcast.
The fourth round of the Star Mazda Series Best Western Championship is slated for July 31 at Portland Int'l Raceway, again in conjunction with Professional Sports Car's American LeMans weekend. This will also be the seventh round of the Star Mazda Series West Division championship. For more information about either the Star Mazda Series Best Western Championship or Star Mazda Series West Division Championship, please contact series administrator Gary Rodrigues at (818) 909-5319. --Jane Anderson
QUALIFYING: 1. Jeff Bucknum, 1:35.361 (95.133mph); 2. Joey Hand, 1:35.406; 3. Tim Enoch, 1:35.508; 4. Mike Potekhen, 1:35.803; 5. Sara Senske, 1:35.909; 6. Brandon Peterson, 1:36.005; 7. Ehret, 1:36.204; 8. Grant Ryley, 1:36.403; 9. Bruno Lambert, 1:36.578; 10. Alan Benson, 1:36.818; 11. Leonardo Maia, 1:37.487; 12. Bob Negron, 1:37.587; 13. Matt Downs, 1:37.642; 14. Alex Figge, 1:38.480; 15. David Lewis, 1:38.680; 16. Dick Downs, 1:38.872; 17. Dave Gaylord, 1:38.884; 18. Will Hill, 1:39.076; 19. Bryan Willman, 1:39.161; 20. Bob Hatle, 1:39.371; 21. Brian Reuter, 1:39.457; 22. Frank McCormick, 1:39.471; 23. Dan Weyland, 1:39.709; 24. Chris Emanuel, 1:39.957; 25. Chad Block, 1:40.017; 26. Ginni Swanton, 1:40.173; 27. Matt Beardsley, 1:40.613; 28. Joel Janco, 1:40.627; 29. Dave McMillan, 1:40.828; 30. Scott Kusy, 1:41.266; 31. Chris McMurry, 1:41.669; 32. David Sterenberg, 1:41.731; 33. Ron Adams, 1:42.153; 34. Tom Mabey, 1:42.251; 35. Tom Barnett, 1:42.457.
STAR MAZDA SERIES BEST WESTERN CHAMPIONSHIP TOP 10 POINT STANDINGS (After 4 of 6 rounds): 1. Hand, 159; 2. Enoch, 155; 3. Bucknum, 153; 4. Potekhen, 138; 5. Senske, 128; 6. Lambert, 125; 7. Janco, 78; Benson, 78; 9. Ryley, 77; 10. D. Downs, 70.
STAR MAZDA SERIES WEST DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP TOP 10 POINT STANDINGS (After 6 of 12 rounds): 1. Hand, 231; 2. Enoch, 221; 3. Bucknum, 217; 4. Potekhen, 215; 5. Senske, 197; 6. Peterson, 192; 7. Beardsley, 168; 8. Lambert, 159; 9. Benson, 158; 10. Hatle, 144.
Race Average Speed: 71.467 mph
Lap Leaders: Hand 1-22
Fastest Lap: Bucknam, 1:35.995
Margin of Victory: 0.680 sec