October 12-14  - Laguna Seca Raceway  (Round 7 Best Western Championship/Round 10 Western Championship)

Last-Lap Maneuvers Net Ryley Third Win Of Season

As a late afternoon marine layer obscured the sun and descended upon Laguna Seca's rolling hills, the 34-car Star Mazda field took the green with polesitter Jason LaPoint leading current Best Western points leader Bernardo Martinez, Scott Jenkins, Grant Ryley and Chantz Wade, who'd come from seventh on the grid to race in the top five. The Star Mazda Series joined the ALMS, as well as several other support events, for the GlobalCenter Sports Car Championships, presented by Honda, at the beautiful Salinas, Calif., road course.

Martinez, hoping to lock up the Best Western Championship before the series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for its finale, Oct. 28, was just a tenth slower than LaPoint in qualifying and started alongside the rookie-of-the-year contender. With 44 points at stake for a win, Martinez needed a good finish, although Scott Bradley and Ryley, second and third in points, respectively, were still in the championship mathematically.

"Well, like I suspected, it's going to come down to the last race," said Martinez, who actually calls Las Vegas home these days. "I think we're in good shape, though, but I still need to do well in Vegas."

The start was fairly eventful with several competitors locking brakes out of Turn 11 in anticipation of the green. Once things got sorted out, there were a couple off-course excursions and some pretty impressive saves. Alex Figge, Bryan Selby and Bob Negron all had "moments" on the opening lap, but were able to continue. Chad Block also slowed and headed to the pits with a battery problem the Valley Motor Center crew was able to repair.

By lap six, LaPoint was slowly stretching his lead over Martinez, Jenkins, Ryley and Wade, who were followed by Bryan Selby, Matt Beardsley, Figge, David Sterenberg and Bradley. Two laps later, a full course yellow was called to extract Tom Nastasi from one of the gravel pits. On lap 12, the race resumed, but not before Wade spun as the field exited Turn 11 to take the green. Good, heads-up driving by everyone involved avoided any great disasters, but Wade lost several positions and his top-five post. "I guess I let the tires cool down too much during that caution period," Wade said after the race.

Aside from losing Wade, the next change for position among the top five came when Ryley passed Jenkins for fourth as they climbed the hill up to Turn Eight. Just then, another full course caution was called for Dan Weyland, who was stuck in the gravel at Turn Six.

Still, the fog was moving in as the course went green on lap 16 with Ryley now challenging Martinez, whose race was now in defensive as well as offensive mode. "I just tried to stay with Jason the whole way," Martinez said. "I felt I could catch him under braking at the top of the corkscrew, but I couldn't make the complete pass."

Lap 17 claimed Figge, who went wide out of Turn Four and smacked the wall on driver's left. Luckily, Figge was OK, as officials called for a local yellow for racing to continue past the incident. With time running out, Ryley set his sights on Martinez, running side-by-side with the Team Bucknum Racing driver as the pair battled down the hill to Turn Nine. By Turn 10, Ryley was in second and chasing LaPoint.

Coming to the white flag, signifying the last lap, LaPoint was holding off Ryley and Martinez. Lapped traffic, however, was just ahead, which the trio encountered first in Turn Two. Just as the leaders came upon Ginni Swanton, a bolt in the shift linkage either sheered off or come loose, and when the Team Bucknum driver went to grab a gear, the shift lever just flopped around in her hand. "It wasn't connected to anything," Swanton explained. She did manage to get safely off the track and not
disrupt the leaders' race. Next up was Ray Neveau, driving with Valley Motor Center this weekend. The threesome also maneuvered around Neveau and started to climb the hill, where they encountered Larry Couture. First, LaPoint went by Couture and Ryley thought he was going to have to wait, but Couture suddenly veered to the right and off track. Ryley saw the opportunity and tucked in quickly behind LaPoint and got beside the leader through the Corkscrew.

As the trio raced down the hill, Ryley never moved, which forced LaPoint to the edge of the track and nearly off the course. "I had a great run going, but I don't think I would have been in a position to challenge Jason if the lapped cars had stayed on the track," Ryley said. By the time they got to Turn 10, Ryley was out front and headed for this third victory of the season.

"All I wanted to do was drive with him," said LaPoint, referring to his dice with Ryley. "We almost touched and the only reason we didn't was because I went in the grass. The whole race was perfect, except for the last lap."

In the Best Western points championship, Martinez maintains first place with 277 points. Ryley is now second at 241 with Bradley tied with LaPoint for third at 230. Wade rounds out the top five with 201. For West Division points, Selby is still leading Beardsley, 356 to 339. Bradley maintains third with 331 points. Ryley is fourth at 296 and Sterenberg is fifth with 280 points.

Both championships conclude Oct. 28, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the dual banquets will be held that evening at the Circus Circus Hotel in Las Vegas. This year's Best Western champion will receive a 2001 Mazda Miata, a $10,000 cash prize and a testing opportunity with BMW Team PTG. World Speed Motorsports will also award a test in its pro Atlantic car to one of the top drivers, as selected by a committee at the conclusion of the season. Cash prizes of more than $65,000 will be paid down to 10th place in the final point standings.

The Speedvision telecast of the Laguna Seca race, featuring commentators Derek Daly and Johnny O'Connell, will be shown Nov. 6, at 9 p.m. EDT; and again at 1 a.m., early the next morning. Please check your local listings to confirm the dates and airtimes.

For more information about the Star Mazda Series Best Western Championship, please log on to the Star Mazda Series website at www.starmazda.com or contact series administrator Gary Rodrigues at (818) 909-5319. --Jane Anderson


(2.238-mile road course)
Driver/Hometown (Sponsors/Team) qualifying time. All drive Star Formula Mazdas with 13B Mazda rotary engines on Goodyear tires.

QUALIFYING: 1. Jason LaPoint/Portland, Ore. (Thrasher Skateboard Magazine, Trackmagic Karts/Valley Motor Center) 1:26.946; 2. Bernardo Martinez/Toledo, Ohio (3-Dimensional Services/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:27.066; 3. Alex Figge/Boulder, Colo. (Zerowait, Bell Helmets, Seattime/World Speed Motorsports) 1:27.472; 4. Scott Jenkins/Portland, Ore. (A.G.G., PPTI Transport/Jenkins Racing) 1:27.632; 5. Grant Ryley/Saratoga, Calif. (Cupertino Electric, Del Monaco Specialty Foods, Pole Position/World Speed Motorsports) 1:27.637; 6. Bryan Selby/Alpine, Calif. (Troon Golf, Red Line Oil, A Graphics Solution/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:27.837; 7. Chantz Wade/Waco, Texas (Shames Construction, Advanced Micro Devises/World Speed Motorsports) 1:27.882; 8. David Sterenberg/Phoenix, Ariz. (Stockbridge Capital/Star Mountain Racing) 1:28.195; 9. Matt Beardsley/Breckenridge, Colo. (Alpine Bank, Land Title/Valley Motor Center) 1:28.245; 10. Chris McMurry/Phoenix, Ariz. (Fairytale Brownies, Northern Trust Bank, Washburn Dev., McMurry Publishing & Advertising/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:28.339; 11. Chad Block/York, Pa. (Minolta, Autosporttuning/Valley Motor Center) 1:28.343; 12. Scott Bradley/Redwood City, Calif. (Polycom.com,
Radvision/World Speed Motorsports) 1:28.432; 13. Mike Potekhen/Silverthorne, Colo. (Troon Golf, Twin Seasons Vacations, Sports Car Ltd./Star Mountain Racing) 1:28.466; 14. Pierre Ehret/Santa Rosa, Calif. (Flamingo Resort Hotel, Santa Rosa, Calif./Team Bucknum Racing) 1:28.524; 15. Matt Downs/Bloomington, Ind. (Hormel Bacon Bits, Olympic Foods Co./Eurosports Racing) 1.28.815; 16. Bob Negron/San Jose, Calif. (Raceland) 1:29.200; 17. Doug Peterson/Lake Orion, Mich. (3-Dimensional Services, Urgent Plastic Services/Lightspeed Motorsports) 1:29.367; 18. Scott Kusy/Scottsdale, Ariz. (Troon Golf/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:29.529; 19. Moses Smith/Chandler, Ariz. (J-OZ Enterprises, Star Mountain Racing/Sports Car Ltd.) 1:29.547; 20. Dan Weyland/Denver, Colo. (Western Eagle Racing/Eurosport Racing) 1:29.871; 21. Michael Choquette/Santa Barbara, Calif. (Heitmann Appraisal  Group/Choquette Racing) 1:30.419; 22. Dick Downs/St. James, Minn. (Hormel Foods, Olympic Foods/Eurosport Racing) 1:30.456; 23. Tom Nastasi/Stamford, Conn. (MacTank/Lightspeed Motorsports) 1:30.647; 24. Bob Hatle/Oceanside, Calif. (R.H. Racing) 1:30.951; 25. Will Hill/Alamo, Calif. (Valley Motor Center) 1:31.307; 26. Tom Mabey/West Bountiful, Utah (Sahara Pro Planners & Builders, Larry H. Miller Automotive Group/Rocky Mountain Motorsports) 1:31.313; 27. Dave McMillan/Pinyon, Calif. (HASA Pool Products/Sports Car
Ltd.) 1:31.408; 28. Bryan Willman/Kirkland, Wash. (Speedware/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:31.848; 29. Ginni Swanton/Kirkland, Wash. (Speedware/Team Bucknum
Racing) 1:32.552; 30. David Lewis/Hermosa Beach, Calif. (Lewis Racing) 1:32.576; 31. Taylor Fletcher/San Clemente, Calif. (Olive Crest Homes For Abused
Children, Global esoft.com, Professional Printers, Capo Coach, Racing For Children's Charities/Bullet Racing Team) 1:32.596; 32. LarryCouture/Claremont, Calif. (Rudolph & Sletten General Contractors, Northrop/Grumman, ArvinMeritor, City of Hope National Medical Center/Team Hope Racing) 1:34.276; 33. Ray Neveau/Santa Ana, Calif. (Valley Motor Center) 1:34.968; 34. Rick Waddell/Edmonds, Wash. (Mbox Design, Northwest Speedwerx/World Speed Motorsports) 1:37.816.

TIME OF RACE: 46m2.245s
FASTEST RACE LAP: LaPoint 1:28.281 (91.263mph)
LAP LEADERS: LaPoint 1-25; Ryley 26


Round 7 - Best Western Championship Official Results/ Round 10 Western Championship
Pos Driver
1 Grant Ryley
2 Jason LaPoint
3 Bernardo Martinez
4 Bryan Selby
5 Matt Beardsley
6 Scott Bradley
7 Scott Jenkins
8 David Sterenberg
9 Pierre Ehret
10 Mike Potekhen
11 Doug Peterson
12 Chris McMurry
13 Moses Smith
14 Scott Kusy
15 Will Hill
16 Bob Hatle
17 Chantz Wade
18 Michael Choquette
19 Dick Downs
20 Matt Downs
21 Bryan Willman
22 David Lewis
23 Tom Mabey
24 Ray Neveau
25 Bob Negron
26 Taylor Fletcher
27 Rick Waddell
28 Ginni Swanton
29 Larry Couture
30 Chad Block
31 Dave McMillan
32 Alex figge
33 Dan Weyland
34 Tom Nastasi


Round 7 - Best Western Championship Points/Round 10 Western Championship Points

(After 7 of 8 rounds): 
1. Martinez, 277; 2. Ryley, 241; 3. Bradley & LaPoint, 230; 5. Wade, 201; 6. Figge, 180; 7. Sterenberg, 171; 8. Selby, 149; 9. Peterson, 148; 10. Beardsley, 143.

(After 7 of 8 rounds): 
1. Peterson, 117; 2. D. Downs, 88; 3. Mabey, 75; 4. Weyland, 70; 5. Choquette, 60.

(After 10 of 11 rounds): 
1. Selby, 356; 2. Beardsley, 339; 3. Bradley, 331; 4. Ryley, 296; 5. Sterenberg, 280; 6. McMurry, 267; 7. Ehret, 254; 8. Kusy, 228; 9. McMillan, 223; 10. Figge, 222.

(After 10 of 11 rounds): 
1. Hatle, 136; 2. Emanuel, 101; 3. Taylor Fletcher, 97; 4.Choquette, 90; 5. Hill, 86.