|June 3, 2000 - Irwindale Speedway|
Beardsley Rounds-Up Win At Irwindale
Under the lights of the Irwindale Speedway's impressive 1/2-mile oval, Matt Beardsley and the rest of the 21 Star Mazda Series drivers put on a terrific show for the 5,609 Southern California racing fans in attendance. Beardsley, as well as second- and third-place finishers Grant Ryley and Bryan Selby, were greeted with thunderous cheers as they accepted their medals after the race at the start/finish line.
"That was really great," said Team Bucknum Racing's Selby. "I looked up in the grandstands and just saw all those people. I think they enjoyed our race." Media professionals in the tower were just as impressed with the Star Mazda Series drivers, as evidenced by the generous coverage given the race in Sunday's local papers (L.A. Times and San Gabriel Valley News).
The Star Mazda weekend actually started Friday afternoon with practice and qualifying. The full Irwindale slate of stock cars showed up Saturday with the Star Mazda Series the main 75-lap event. As always, Irwindale officials welcomed the Star Mazda drivers and teams, making everyone feel welcome with their hospitality. Perhaps the only catch of the weekend was the weather. It was hot and a little humid during the day, but once the sun set, temperatures dropped both on and off the track.
Valley Motor Center's Beardsley qualified on the pole, besting World Speed's Ryley by a scant 0.061sec. The constantly improving Scott Bradley followed his World Speed teammate with third-quick time. David Sterenberg broke into the top five qualifying slots for the first time this year with his fourth-fastest time. Rounding out the top five was Team Bucknum's Chris McMurry.
As soon as the green came out to start the 75-lap race, Beardsley and Ryley hooked up in what would eventually be a 62-lap battle for the top position. Until the first yellow, the best race on the track was among Bradley, Selby and Sterenberg for third, but there were battles and lots of side-by-side racing throughout the field. By lap 14, the leaders encountered traffic, allowing Ryley to close in on Beardsley. "Traffic was really good," said Buttonwillow winner Ryley. "Everyone was heads up."
Under the long green run to lap 51, Beardsley successfully held off Ryley, but observers could see Ryley was closing. "The tires were heating up and the car developed a major oversteer right before that first yellow came out," said Beardsley. "I just got lucky when we got that caution because I was able to cool down the tires for the restart."
Just as Ryley broke to the inside of Beardsley on the front straight to complete a pass for the lead, the caution lights came on for Steve Cook, who had spun between Turns Three and Four. Under oval racing rules, when the caution comes out, the running order resorts to the last green lap, which meant Ryley had to give back the position. "The car was good and I just went for it," said Ryley.
On lap 59 the race was green again with Beardsley leading Ryley, Selby and a fast-approaching Bernardo Martinez. Unfortunately, just three laps later the yellow lights flickered again, this time for a three-car incident in Turn Four. Lapped traffic may have played a role in causing Sterenberg, Chad Block and Larry Couture to take evasive action. Unfortunately, all three collided, making various degrees of contact with the Turn Four wall. With debris and three cars to pick up, it took about 10 laps to get the race back under way. Race officials, however, had already decided and announced in the drivers meeting that the race would finish under green, which meant the last three laps would be signified by first green, then white and finally checkered flags from the starter's stand.
On the restart, Beardsley got what appeared to be an unbelieveable jump on Ryley. What actually happened is every driver's nightmare-mechanical failure. "During that second caution, just before the green came out, I lost first, second and third gears," Ryley explained. Fortunately, Selby quickly backed out of the throttle, but he, too, lost valuable ground to the leader Beardsley.
"I thought, 'What is Grant doing,?'" Selby said during post-race interviews. "I couldn't pop out around him until the green came out, so I was kinda stuck."
So, with three laps to the checker, Beardsley held off the now up-to-speed Ryley, as well as the hard-charging Selby and a closing Martinez. Bradley just barely beat Quad Boenker to the line, who'd raced up to sixth from 15th on the grid. Finishing sixth was Taylor Fletcher, who set the second-fastest race lap behind Beardsley with a 17.935. Chris McMurry, Pierre Ehret and Steve Lopez rounded out the top 10.
This was the first overall Star Mazda win for Beardsley, who finished second at Phoenix in March, but was credited with the win for point calculations as PIR winner Michael Potekhen isn't officially entered the series. "I really got lucky with those yellows," Beardsley said. "That last caution was great for the tires."
In the championship calculations for the West Division, rookie Selby is still leading with 203 points, but Beardsley has taken over second with 174. Ryley is just a point behind Beardsley at 173, followed by Bradley at 162 and McMurry fifth at 139. In the Masters Series (drivers 45 and older), Bob Hatle finished 13th after a flat tire side-tracked him in qualifying, but he retains the points lead at 92. Chris Emanuel is still second at 75, with Fletcher moving into third with 50 points.
The final round of the three-race Red Line Oil Oval Championship is July 8, at Mesa Marin. In the current point standings, Beardsley leads with 40, followed by Martinez and Selby, who are tied at 28.The sixth round of the Star Mazda Series West Division will be held June 24, at Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, Calif. For more information about the Star Mazda Series West Division, log on to the Star Mazda Series website at www.starmazda.com or contact series administrator Gary Rodrigues at (818) 909-5319. -Jane Anderson
|Round 2 - Red Line Oil Oval Championship Official Results|
|Pos||Driver||Laps||Laps Led||Fast Lap|
|1||Matt Beardsley||75||1-51, 54-75||17.790|
|Round 2 - Red Line Oil Oval Championship and West Coast Series Points|
TOP 10 WEST DIVISION POINT STANDINGS
(After 5 of 11 rounds)
1. Selby, 203; 2. Beardsley, 174; 3. Ryley, 173; 4. Bradley, 162; 5. McMurry, 139;
6. Sterenberg, 137; 7. Chantz Wade, 131; 8. McMillan, 125; Hatle, 125; 10. Figge, 123.
TOP 10 RED LINE OIL OVAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINT STANDINGS
(After 2 of 3 rounds)
1. Beardsley, 40; 2. Martinez, 28; Selby, 28; 4. Ryley, 27; 5. Bradley, 21;
6. McMurry, 18; 7. Ehret, 15; 8. Wade, 12; 9. Fletcher, 10. 10. Sterenberg, 8; Hatle, 8; Figge, 8.
TOP 5 MASTER SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP
(After 5 of 11 rounds)
1. Hatle, 92; 2. Emanuel, 75; 3. Fletcher, 50; 4. Waddell, 47; 5. Michael Choquette, 39.