October 28  - Las Vegas  (Round 8 Best Western Championship)

First Win For Sterenberg; Championship To Martinez

Bernardo Martinez won the Star Mazda Series Best Western Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway's 2.25-mile road course by earning the pole and finishing third in the 42-car field behind first-time race winner David Sterenberg, of Star Mountain Racing, and second-place driver Grant Ryley, of World Speed Motorsports. Team Bucknum Racing's Martinez claimed the championship title by posting all but one (fourth at Sears Point) top-three finishes, which included two race wins.

"To be able to do what we did with the limited budget we had this year is truly a great accomplishment," said Martinez. "In the race, I felt I was challenging enough to be competitive, but still not taking unnecessary risks at the same time."

A total of 43 cars entered the season finale, which would have been a record Star Mazda entry for the year, but 42 actually started when James Shaiman, of Flat Out Racing, was called home to Seattle, Wash., for a family emergency.

Weather conditions challenged teams and drivers for most of the weekend with the most severe rain, wind and cold actually holding off for the race Saturday afternoon. The configuration at LVMS was similar to the interior road racing layouts utilized at Texas and Charlotte Motor Speedways, all of which have been affectionately dubbed "rovals."

Polesitter Martinez led the impressive Star Mazda field safely through the chicane for the start of the 28-lap race. As the cars filed onto the apron off Turn One, they headed down the back straight and toward the hard left-hander into the interior portion of the road course. The leaders made it through, but toward the mid-section of the pack, cars got turned around. The first casualty was Dan Weyland, whose Eurosport Racing Mazda was damaged and stalled in the middle of the turn. As Martinez headed to start/finish to complete lap one, the pace car was dispatched for the first of three full-course yellows.

On lap five, racing resumed with Ryley getting the jump on Martinez to take over the lead. "I saw Bernardo check up for the pace car and I went back to full throttle and had the momentum," Ryley explained. Just four  turns later, however, Ryley went wide after slipping on some oil dry and dropped back to fourth behind Sterenberg, LaPoint and Martinez. "I couldn't believe it," Ryley said. "Here I am in the lead and I'm going off."

Taking quick advantage was Sterenberg, who'd been impressive all weekend. "I have a lot of confidence on these types of tracks," said the 29-year-old Phoenix resident, who ran all year without a single mechanical DNF. "The car was set up great and it was amazing to drive." The race stayed green until lap 11 when officials decided they needed to check on and extract Larry Couture from a tire barrier on the interior road course. Couture was OK, but it took a little coaxing to get his Formula Mazda to a safer location. Back to green on lap 15, Sterenberg maintained his hold on the lead, but Ryley again caught Martinez and slipped into second.

Despite being locked in a championship battle, Martinez and Ryley were racing hard and exchanged positions several times. "It's hard to race and then fall back and try to be conservative," Martinez said. "I think there was more dicing in this race than any other we've had all year." Ryley admitted Martinez' aggressiveness surprised him as well. "The race itself was wild," Ryley said. "I had no idea Bernardo was going to be that racy, but running side-by-side with Jason and Bernardo was awesome."

The last full-course yellow was for another incident in the hairpin that claimed Texas Autosports' Todd Garner. Almost the same scenario as the first lap collision, this time a car was airborne and it was Garner. Luckily, it landed on all fours and never flipped, but Garner was done for the day and stuck in the turn's outside edge gravel pit. On lap 24, the green was displayed for a five-lap dash to the checker. Sterenberg got another good jump, but Ryley got by LaPoint and then snuck in behind Martinez to take over second on lap 25. On the last lap, Martinez tried one last move on Ryley as the pair raced off the front straight onto the apron. "It blew me away when Bernardo dove in there," Ryley said. "It just shows how good he really is."

Sterenberg held the lead to the checker with Ryley close behind. Martinez, LaPoint and World Speed's Scott Bradley rounded out the top five. "We'd been hanging around the podium all year," Sterenberg said. "This really gives us a solid basis to start next year."

At the Star Mazda banquet, held Saturday evening at Circus Circus, more than $225,000 as well as various contingency prizes were handed out to the top drivers in the Best Western and West Coast series. Martinez was crowned Best Western champion and received a $16,600 check (that also included the winnings from finishing 10th in the West Division), a 2001 Mazda Miata, as well as test drives in the World Speed Motorsports pro Atlantic car  and with BMW Team PTG in a BMW M3. Ryley, by virtue of finishing second in the Best Western Championship and third in the West Coast series, earned $24,065. World Speed Motorsports owner Chuck West also announced that Ryley will drive the team's new pro Atlantic entry in 2001.

Finishing third in the Best Western championship was Valley Motor Center's Jason LaPoint, who earned $10,000 and a set of BBS wheels for being named the series' rookie-of-the-year. LaPoint has also been invited to test an Atlantic car and will do so later this month with DSTP. The Best Western Masters champion was 49-year-old Doug Peterson, of Lake Orion, Mich. Peterson will receive a test in Valley Motor Center's rotary-powered Formula Atlantic car. Peterson's Lightspeed Motorsports crew chief, Mike Burress, was also given the series' Presidents Award.

For the West Coast series, Bryan Selby, of Alpine, Calif., earned $10,144 as the West Coast champion after finishing seventh in the Las Vegas race. Selby, who is Martinez' Team Bucknum Racing teammate, also earned a set of BBS wheels for West Division rookie-of-the-year honors. Valley Motor Center's Matt Beardsley, of Breckenridge, Colo., finished second in the West Coast championship and received $9,146. Beardsley's season also included the three-race Red Line Oil Oval Championship title that earned him $3,000, as well as the 2000 Valvoline Runoffs Formula Mazda gold medal and an additional $5,000. Ryley, as stated above, was third in the West. Bob Hatle, 58, of San Diego, Calif., was named the West Coast Masters
champion, and will also test drive Valley's Formula Atlantic race.

In other awards, Ryley's crew chief on the World Speed team, Josh Huff, was the recipient of the Brian Wilson Award. Wilson, crew chief for Formula Mazda driver and long-time supporter Barry Shames, died two years ago while testing at Sears Point Raceway.

The PI Research-sponsored most improved driver award went to Vegas winner Sterenberg.

The Speedvision telecast of the Las Vegas race, featuring commentators Derek Daly and Johnny O'Connell, will be shown Nov. 13, at 8 p.m. EDT; and again at 12 midnight. 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

SATURDAY, OCT. 28, 2000/LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY (2.25-mile road course)
Driver/Hometown (Sponsors/Team) qualifying time. 
All drive Star Formula Mazdas with 13B Mazda rotary engines on Goodyear tires.

QUALIFYING: 1. Bernardo Martinez/Toledo, Ohio (3-Dimensional Services/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:0.094; 2. Grant Ryley/Saratoga, Calif. (Cupertino Electric, Del Monaco Specialty Foods, Pole Position/World Speed Motorsports) 1:20.505; 3. David Sterenberg/Phoenix, Ariz. (Stockbridge Capital/Star Mountain Racing) 1:20.6535; 4. Jason LaPoint/Portland, Ore. (Thrasher Skateboard Magazine, Trackmagic Karts/Valley Motor Center) 1:20.673; 5. Scott Bradley/Redwood City, Calif. (Polycom.com, Radvision/World Speed Motorsports) 1:20.734; 6. Alex Figge/Boulder, Colo. (Zerowait, Bell Helmets, Seattime/World Speed Motorsports) 1:20.801; 7. Bryan Selby/Alpine, Calif. (Troon Golf, Red Line Oil, A Graphics Solution/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:20.835; 8. Scott Jenkins/Portland, Ore.  (A.G.G., PPTI Transport/Jenkins Racing) 1:20.848; 9. Pierre Ehret/Santa Rosa, Calif. (Flamingo Resort Hotel, Santa Rosa, Calif./Team Bucknum Racing) 1:21.027; 10. Chris McMurry/Phoenix, Ariz. (Fairytale Brownies, Northern Trust Bank, Washburn Dev., McMurry Publishing & Advertising/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:21.087; 11. Mike Potekhen/Silverthorne, Colo. (Troon Golf, Twin Seasons Vacations, Sports Car Ltd./Star Mountain Racing) 1:21.108; 12. Matt Beardsley/Breckenridge, Colo. (Alpine Bank, Land Title/Valley Motor Center) 1:21.162; 13. Moses Smith/Chandler, Ariz. (J-OZ Enterprises, Star Mountain Racing/Sports Car Ltd.) 1:21.173; 14. Chantz Wade/Waco, Texas (Shames Construction, Advanced Micro Devises/World Speed Motorsports) 1:21.207; 15. Bob Negron/San Jose, Calif. (Raceland) 1:21.960; 16. Scott Kusy/Scottsdale, Ariz. (Troon Golf/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:22.145; 17. Phil Fogg Jr./Malatin. Ore. (SNALF.com/Flat Out Racing) 1:22.330; 18. Steve Lopez/Chandler, Ariz. (Speedvision, Botti Seats/Valley Motor Center) 1:22.340; 19. Dick Downs/St. James, Minn. (Hormel Foods, Olympic Foods/Eurosport Racing) 1:22.752; 20. Frank McCormick/San Francisco, Calif. (Onyx Pharmaceuticals/World Speed Motorsports) 1:22.940; 21. Bob Hatle/Oceanside, Calif. (R.H. Racing) 1:23.026; 22. Doug Peterson/Lake Orion, Mich. (3-Dimensional Services, Urgent Plastic Services/Lightspeed Motorsports) 1:23.027; 23. Tom Nastasi/Stamford, Conn. (MacTank/Lightspeed Motorsports) 1:23.056; 24. Brad Drew/Everett, Wash. (Coleman Outdoor Products/Drew Racing) 1:23.194; 25. Will Hill/Alamo, Calif. (Valley Motor Center) 1:23.353; 26. Dave McMillan/Pinyon, Calif. (HASA Pool Products/Sports Car Ltd.) 1:23.383; 27. Bryan Willman/Kirkland, Wash. (Speedware/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:23.453; 28. Mike Stephens/Sarasota, Fla. (Robert W. Baird & Co./Racers Edge) 1:23.461; 29. Dan Weyland/Denver, Colo. (Western Eagle Racing/Eurosport Racing) 1:23.490; 30. Dan Tomlin III/Dallas, Texas (Lone Star Ranch/Land Advisors, Inc./Texas Autosports) 1:23.810; 31. Todd Garner/Plano, Texas (Labadie Homes/Texas Autosports) 1:23.825; 32. Ginni Swanton/Kirkland, Wash. (Speedware/Team Bucknum Racing)  1:23.904; 33. Ron Burger/Santa Cruz, Calif. (National Impact Motorsports & Marketing/Tom Moore Autosports) 1:24.141; 34. Ethan Hernandez/Seattle, Wash. (Aubeta Networks/Aubeta Motorsports) 1:24.248; 35. Tom Mabey/West Bountiful, Utah (Sahara Pro Planners & Builders, Larry H. Miller Automotive Group/Rocky Mountain Motorsports) 1:24.309; 36. Rick Waddell/Edmonds, Wash. (Mbox Design, Northwest Speedwerx/World Speed Motorsports) 1:24.841; 37. Nur Ali (Budweiser, BG Oil, Hi-Line Transport, Clark Brothers Paint & Body/Ali Motorsports) 1:24.976; 38. John Faulkner/Rochester, N.Y. (Air-so-pure/Racers Edge) 1:25.024; 39. Dick Doty/Haddon Heights, N.J. (Sensonics, Inc., www.smelltest.com/Eurosport Racing) 1:25.119; 40. Don Simons/Clearwater, Fla. (TelSoft Solutions/Tom Moore Autosports) 1:25.587; 41. Chad Block/York, Pa. (Minolta Digitial Copiers, Autosporttuning/Valley Motor Center) no time; 42. Larry Couture/Claremont, Calif. (Rudolph & Sletten General Contractors, Northrop/Grumman  ArvinMeritor, City of Hope National Medical Center/Team Hope Racing) no

TIME OF RACE: 43m46.952s 
SPEED: 86.336mph
FASTEST RACE LAP: Ryley 1:20.570 (100.534mph) 
LAP LEADERS: Martinez 1-4; Ryley 5; Sterenberg 6-28

October 28  - Las Vegas  (Round 8 Best Western Championship)
Pos Driver Laps Difference
1 David Sterenberg 28 ---
2 Grant Ryley 28 0:00.273
3 Bernardo Martinez 28 0:01.369
4 Jason LaPoint 28 0:01.781
5 Scott Bradley 28 0:01.971
6 Chris McMurry 28 0:05.996
7 Bryan Selby 28 0:06.071
8 Scott Kusy 28 0:08.748
9 Mike Potekhen 28 0:08.907
10 Doug Peterson 28 0:18.662
11 Bob Negron 28 0:18.668
12 Mike Stephens 28 0:24.272
13 Dan Tomlin III 28 0:24.352
14 Dave McMillan 28 0:25.312
15 Scott Jenkins 28 0:27.595
16 Dick Downs 28 0:28.289
17 Brad Drew 28 0:30.154
18 Will Hill 28 0:30.284
19 Bryan Willman 28 0:30.550
20 Ron Berger 28 0:31.131
21 Ethan Hernandez 28 0:32.224
22 Steve Lopez 28 0:32.365
23 Pierre Ehret 28 0:35.646
24 Tom Mabey 28 0:36.394
25 Don Simmons 28 0:37.875
26 Ginni Swanton 28 0:38.557
27 Rick Waddell 28 1:06.124
28 Phil Fog, Jr. 27 -- 1 Lap --
29 Nur Ali 27 1:26.215
30 Alex Figge 27 1:30.720
31 Dick Doty 26 -- 2 Laps --
32 John Faulkner 25 -- 3 Laps --
33 Chad Block 19 -- 9 Laps --
34 Tom Nastasi 19 0:25.387
35 Matt Beardsley 18 -- 10 Laps --
36 Todd Garner 18 0:23.046
37 Larry Couture 9 -- 19 Laps --
38 Chantz Wade 7 --21 Laps --
39 Moses Smith 7 0:01.062
40 Bob Hatle 5 -- 23 Laps --
41 Frank McCormick 1 -- 27 Laps --
42 Dan Weyland 0 -- 28 Laps -- 


October 28  - Road Atlanta  (Round 8 Best Western Championship)

(After 8 of 8 rounds):

1. Martinez, 315; 2. Ryley, 281; 3. LaPoint, 264; 4. Bradley, 262; 5. Sterenberg, 215; 6. Wade, 204; 7. Figge, 189; 8. Selby, 178; 9. Peterson, 174; 10. McMurry, 164.

(After 8 of 8 rounds):
1. Peterson, 137; 2. Downs, 104; 3. Mabey, 87; 4. Weyland, 78; 5. Hill, 60; 6. Michael Choquette, 60.

(After 11 of 11 rounds):
1. Selby, 376; 2. Beardsley, 339; 3. Ryley, 336; 4. Bradley, 334; 5. Sterenberg, 306; 6. McMurry, 289; 7. Ehret, 257; 8. Kusy, 256; 9. McMillan, 249; 10. Martinez, 247.

(After 11 of 11 rounds):
1. Hatle, 146; 2. Hill, 102; 3. Chris Emanuel, 101; 4. Taylor Fletcher, 97; 5. Waddell, 96.