April 30, 2000 - Buttonwillow Raceway Park

Flag-To-Flag Victory Nets Ryley Points Lead 

What started out as a frustrating weekend for Grant Ryley and the Worldspeed Motorsports team, ended in jubilation after Ryley led green-to-checker to score his first victory of the 2000 Star Mazda Series West Division season.  "The car just felt slow all weekend," said Ryley, who now shares first place in the series points tally with Team Bucknum Racing's Bryan Selby. "The guys worked on the car after every session and they were here until midnight Saturday. In the end, we had the best car."

Utilizing Buttonwillow Raceway Park's #26 counter-clockwise, 2.95-mile configuration, the Star Mazda race also doubled as the SCCA
National for the Formula Mazda class.  For a total of 27 entries, series regulars were joined by several new drivers, including local Formula Ford standout Michael Choquette, as well as newcomers Jim Billys and Don Simons, who are racing with Tom Moore Autosports, and Rick Waddell, from the Worldspeed Motorsports stable. Also entered this weekend were other familiar, but not necessarily regular Star Mazda drivers, including Bakersfield's Steve Booth, David Lewis, of Hermosa Beach, FM veteran Marc Hartranft and Cal Club sedan driver Brady Gross.

Saturday's dual sessions were dedicated to practice with the single qualifying session conducted Sunday morning. Ryley posted the quickest time and was the only driver in the one-minute, 45-second range. Behind Ryley, series rookies Chantz Wade, Scott Bradley and Bryan Selby stopped the clock within 0.162sec of one another. Valley Motor Center's Matt Beardsley rounded out the top five qualifiers, just two-tenths off Selby's time. The only non-qualifier was series veteran Taylor Fletcher, who broke a rod end on the first lap of the qualifying session and couldn't repair it in time to re-enter the track.

As has become custom for the Star Mazdas at Buttonwillow, the race was started on the aptly named I-5 straight on the East Loop. When the green was shown, Ryley eventually led a long line of race cars into the sweeping Riverside 9, left-hander and around the rest of the circuit to head the opening lap. Wade lost the most positions on the start, falling back to fourth. He quickly regained his second-place starting spot, but Ryley was already comfortably out front. Wade gave chase to Ryley, actually opening a slight gap between himself and the three cars battling for third--Beardsley, Selby and Bradley. Following the lead five cars, David Sterenberg, Chris McMurry, Alex Figge, Bob Hatle and Frank McCormick rounded out the top 10.

The top five positions remained intact, although Sterenberg lost sixth place with an "off" on the outside of Riverside 9. He rejoined the
race, but lost 16 positions stuck in the sand. Sterenberg's miscue elevated McMurry to sixth, but less than a lap later, Wade pulled off in the Esses with a broken fuel pump. This development moved Beardsley, who had survived a lap three thrill on the front straight grass--up to second, Selby into third and Bradley to fourth.

With Ryley out front, Beardsley, Selby and Bradley battled over second place, navigating through traffic as the race passed the halfway
point. "I caught traffic in bad places a couple times, but for the most part everyone was OK," said Ryley, who added he was dedicating this win to Worldspeed team owner Chuck West, whose father died earlier in the week.  "It was a 'turn-down-the-mirrors' and 'go-for-it' kind of race."

Perhaps the most dramatic action in the race came with less than three laps remaining when Beardsley was lapping traffic in the infield
portion of the track and was clipped by Sterenberg. The ensuing off-course excursion dropped Beardsley to sixth, where he finished. Taking advantage of the Beardsley/Sterenberg incident were Selby, Bradley, McMurry and Figge. "All's I saw was a lot of dust, but I squeezed by for the position," said Selby, who was working hard to hold off Bradley.

"My car got really loose toward the end of the race, mainly because the race was green all the way," said Bradley, whose day got off to a shaky start when the Worldspeed driver spun off course in the Star Mazda hairpin. "I just got on the gas too soon and then I ended up on the curbing."

At the checker, Ryley crossed the finish line with more than 12 seconds to spare. Selby held off Bradley with McMurry and Figge rounding out the top five. Behind Beardsley in sixth, finishing an impressive seventh was privateer Hatle with Worldspeed's McCormick in eighth and Team Bucknum's Ginni Swanton holding off Booth in a great race for ninth. Behind Sterenberg in 11th, Fletcher finished 12th after starting last.

Unfortunately, there were some incidents that claimed several usual front-runners. Marc Hartranft and Brady Gross collided on lap 10,
sidelining both cars. Pierre Ehret, Bryan Willman, Scott Kusy and Waddell were also early departures. Valley's Will Hill battled some errant bodywork and had to pit to remove it, but still managed to finish 16th overall.

In the championship calculations, rookie Selby and Ryley are tied with 77 points each. Beardsley is third at 74 with Bradley fourth with 67 and McMurry fifth at 63. In the Master Series (drivers 45 and older), Hatle leads with 40 points. Chris Emanuel and Fletcher are tied for second with 30 points each. Hill and Choquette round out the top five Master points.

The third and fourth rounds of the Star Mazda Series West Division will be held May 20-21, at Thunderhill Park in conjunction with a NASA event. For more information about the Star Mazda Series West Division contact series administrator Gary Rodrigues at (818) 909-5319. --Jane Anderson


Round 2 - Western Division Official Results
Pos Driver Laps Laps Led Difference Fast Lap
1 Grant Ryley 21 21 --- 1:47.525
2 Bryan Selby 21 12.517 1:48.185
3 Scott Bradley 21 12.936 1:47.792
4 Chris McMurry 21 39.659 1:49.037
5 Alex Figge 21 46.646 1:49.483
6 Matt Beardsley 21 52.162 1:48.536
7 Bob Hatle 21 1:02.386 1:50.796
8 Frank McCormick 21 1:35.101 1:51.767
9 Ginni Swanton 21 1:46.778 1:51.793
10 Steve Booth 21 1:47.160 1:52.090
11 David Sterenberg 20 1 Lap 1:48.536
12 Taylor Fletcher 20 4.453 1:52.664
13 Dave McMillan 20 5.049 1:51.442
14 Larry Couture 20 5.642 1:52.016
15 Chris Emanuel 20 17.973 1:53.586
16 Will Hill 20 18.926 1:52.907
17 David Lewis 20 1:05.162 1:52.105
18 Michael Choquette 20 1:18.964 1:53.798
19 Jim Billys 19 2 Laps 1:53.550
20 Don Simons 19 30.136 1:58.263
21 Marc Hartranft 11 10 Laps 1:52.591
22 Brady Gross 10 11 Laps 1:50.839
23 Chantz Wade 9 12 Laps 1:47.551
24 Pierre Ehret 9 1:04.912 1:49.151
25 Bryan Willman 6 15 Laps 1:51.669
26 Scott Kusy 1 20 Laps 2:22.488
27 Rick Waddell 1 7.264 2:22.502


Round 2 - Western Division Points

(After 2 of 12 rounds)
1.(Tie) Ryley/Selby, 77; 3. Beardlsey, 74; 4. Bradley, 67; 5. McMurry, 63; 6. Figge, 56;
7. Sterenberg, 55; 8. Hatle, 54; 9. Wade, 53; 10 (Tie) McMillan/Swanton, 48. 

(After 2 of 12 rounds)
1. Hatle, 40; 2.(Tie) Emanuel/ Fletcher, 30, 4. Hill, 12; 5. Choquette, 11;
6. Simon, 10; 7. Waddell, 9.