|June 12 , 1999 - Willow Springs Raceway|
Overcomes Flu Bug To Win Second Race
SUNDAY, JUNE 13, 1999/WILLOW SPRINGS INT'L RACEWAY-Despite feeling lousy with the flu, Stacy Suspension Systems driver and current points leader Joey Hand led all 26 laps of the Star Mazda Series West Division race, held in conjunction with the co-sanctioned Cal Club/San Diego Region SCCA National at Willow Springs.
Hand jumped out to an early lead from his pole position, immediately distancing himself from top qualifiers Tim Enoch, Bruno Lambert, Jeff Bucknum and Brandon Peterson. Lambert, Hand's S3 teammate, looked to be an early challenger when he-as well as Bucknum, Peterson, Sara Senske and Michael Potekhen-scooted by second-fast qualifier Tim Enoch, who had selected the wrong gear when the green flag flew. Valley Motor Center's Enoch slide back to seventh place, leaving World Speed's Bucknum, Lambert, Valley's Peterson and S3's Senske to chase Hand.
"I guess I got a break on the start," Hand said. "My plan at that point was to run a few laps at qualifying times and then work on saving tires and fuel," said the 20-year-old national karting champion, referring to the challenging track conditions (temperatures hovered around 100 Fahrenheit for most of the weekend!).
Bucknum, whose Saturday practice session collision with Senske was still haunting the handling of his race car, climbed up to second from fourth place by lap two, but was still in striking distance of a four-car pack that included Lambert, Peterson and the recovered Enoch. Potekhen, who had impressively raced up to sixth from 11th on the grid, found himself the whip on the end of the chain.
"We just ran out of sessions to get the car back to where we wanted it," Bucknum said. "At this point, my job was to make the least amount of mistakes and make the podium."
Senske, who was breaking in a new motor, but still managed pick up a spot on the start, fell back to seventh and in the clutches of veteran Cal Club sedan driver Brady Gross. The two battled for most of the race.
Back up front, Hand was putting more distance between himself and Bucknum, as well as the battle that waged among Lambert, Peterson, Enoch and Poteken for third. Despite a major "off" in Turn Five that continued through Turn Six, Enoch, though, was still charging and set the race's fastest lap in the process (see stats below). He moved past Bucknum on lap 11 for second as the pair entered Turn One. "I was just in the wrong gear on the start, which everyone could probably hear because I was in the rev limiter, too" said the 26-year-old Enoch, who was sporting a new self-styled "summer" hairdo (aka shaved head). "After that, it was a game of catch up."
The only major incident in the race occurred on lap 10 when Frank McCormick and Alex Figge collided in Turn Two-a very fast right-hander at the Rosamond road course. They had been locked in a terrific battle with at least six cars that also included Dave McMillan, who may have been caught in the melee as well. Everyone was OK, but the three cars were sidelined with just about a third of the race completed.
By the halfway point, Hand was comfortably out front, but beginning to navigate traffic. Throughout the field, there were great races, so the leaders had to be twice as careful. "Working traffic and the gravel on the track, especially in Turns Two and Four, was tricky," Hand said. "I had a couple huge saves in those turns."
Hand and Enoch got through traffic relatively unscathed, but Bucknum was under fire from Lambert, the ever-improving Peterson and Sports Car Ltd.'s Potekhen. Bucknum held off Lambert and then Peterson, who had slipped by Lambert on lap 19. Behind Potekhen in sixth, Senske was looking for a way by Gross, which she successfully achieved on the penultimate lap. Rounding out the top 10 were Alan Benson and Pierre Ehret, in his first top 10 finish in the series.
In the championship points race, Hand is still out front with 124 points to Enoch's 112. Potekhen holds onto third with 104 points, followed by Bucknum at 98 and Senske with 91 to round out the top five.
The fourth round of the Star Mazda Series West Division Championship as well as the third round of the Star Mazda Series Best Western Championship-held in conjunction with the IRL oval race at Pikes Peak International Raceway-is slated for June 26. For more information about the Star Mazda Series West Division Championship, please contact series administrator Gary Rodrigues at (818) 909-5319. -Jane Anderson
Top 10 Point Standings (After 3 of 12 rounds)
|21st||Joe Brandise Jr.|
of Race: 35:26.215
Race Average Speed: 110.055 mph
Lap Leaders: Hand 1-26
Fastest Lap: Enoch, 1:20.656 (111.585 mph)
Margin of Victory: 7.763 seconds