|July 8 2000 - Mesa Marin Raceway|
Win Nets Beardsley Red Line Oil Oval Crown
SATURDAY, JULY 8, 2000/MESA MARIN RACEWAY-Matt Beardsley swept the three-race Red Line Oil Oval Championship, claiming his third win of the
season at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif., before an enthusiastic Saturday night racing crowd. Valley Motor Center's Beardsley held off a late-race charge from World Speed's Grant Ryley to capture the oval crown. "I can't say enough about the Valley team and what they did to prepare me for ovals," said Beardsley, whose celebration was cut short so he could make a flight to Denver to compete in an SCCA Runoffs-qualifying National on Sunday. "I really got into a rhythm, but I knew Grant was right there."
The weekend started Friday morning with on-track practice for the Star Mazdas. Teams and drivers worked all day to familiarize themselves with the nuances of Mesa Marin's banking. There were a couple incidents, including scrapes and near-misses with the walls. Luckily, no one was hurt and the cars were all repairable. Saturday's schedule started with gates opening at 2 p.m. and practice sessions commencing around 3 p.m. In addition to the Star Mazda Series, the evening included Mesa Marin's usual racing fare of NASCAR Late Models, Street Stocks and an interesting Super TT motorcycle event.
The relatively small turn-out of 16 cars (for Star Mazda standards, anyway) meant single-car qualifying went quickly, with Valley's Steve Lopez setting quick time, displacing Ryley, Bernardo Martinez, Chris McMurry, Beardsley and Bryan Selby from the top of the practice sheets. Ryley did set second quick time in qualifying to share the front row with Lopez. It was a good, clean start with Lopez jumping out front to lead Ryley, McMurry, Scott Bradley and Beardsley for the opening two laps. Lopez looked strong, actually pulling out a slight lead over Ryley, who by lap five, was being pursued by Beardsley. The order remained fairly intact with a couple cars making headway toward the front, including Scott Kusy's climb from 12th starting position up to 10th by lap 13.
Coincidentally enough, this is when sparks started to fly--literally--for Lopez. Unfortunately, a mechanical malfunction in the engine sent a spectacular rooster tail of sparks out the muffler of his race car, forcing him to relinquish the lead and head to the pits. No caution flag flew as Lopez maneuvered safely off the track and Ryley took over the lead. Beardsley moved in close with the two running side-by-side for several laps and swapping the lead. Officially, Beardsley got by for good on lap 19 and held off Ryley to the checker on lap 75. "I got Grant into Turn Three, but then two laps later he got back by and then, using traffic, I passed him on the exit of Turn Two," Beardsley explained in post-race impound. "Toward the end, we just kept catching traffic, so my plan was to dive in as soon as possible and let them know I was there to make the pass."
Ryley felt his luck in traffic wasn't as good as Beardsley's. "I
tried a bunch of different things," Ryley said. "I'd get a good
run and then have to back out." One of the best battles was for
third among McMurry, Bradley, Selby, Martinez and David Sterenberg, just
about the time the first full-course yellow was flown for Bakersfield's
Steve Booth, who had spun in Turn Four. Booth was able to continue and the
race resumed on lap 41 with McMurry, Selby and Martinez braking away to
make it a three-car fight for third. Unfortunately, Martinez' night ended
on lap 49 when the Team Bucknum driver touched the wall in Turn Four,
damaging the right rear. Martinez
"I think my car was faster than Matt's at the end and I think I would have had something for him if I could have gotten a little closer," Ryley said. "But, Matt had the better race and my congratulations to him." The race ran uninterrupted for the last 19 laps to the checker with Selby moving into third to claim the final podium position over McMurry. "Chris and I battled and had a great race," said the leading rookie-of-the-year contender. "I'm glad we had those cautions at the end to give us a break because my car started to go away a little bit. It was a sure a wild, long race."
McMurry finished fourth, just behind Troon Golf's Selby. Rounding out the top five was Bradley and then Sterenberg in sixth--the last car on the leader's lap. In victory circle, Beardsley received accolades for not only the race victory, but also for winning the Red Line Oil Oval Championship. Beardsley will receive a $3,000 cash prize, a Red Line Oil driver's suit and Red Line Oil products for his title. Ryley's check will be for $2,000 and Selby will receive $1,000. Both Ryley and Selby will also receive new Red Line Oil driver's suits and product.
In the Star Mazda Series West Division championship points, Selby maintains the points lead over Beardsley, 285 to 250 points. Bradley is still in third with 231 points, followed by Ryley in fourth at 213 and McMurry fifth with 207 points. Masters Series points leader Bob Hatle skipped Mesa Marin to recuperate from surgery. The next round of the Star Mazda Series West Division is also the second round of the Best Western Championship and will be held July 22, on Sears Point Raceway, in conjunction with the American LeMans weekend.
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 3 - Red Line Oil Oval Championship Official Results|
|Pos||Driver||Laps||Laps Led||Difference||Fast Lap|
|7||Taylor Fletcher||74||1 Lap||19.258|
|10||Larry Couture||73||2 laps||19.924|
|11||Bryan Willman||72||3 laps||19.971|
|12||Steve Booth||51||24 laps||19.375|
|13||Frank McCormick||50||25 laps||19.827|
|14||Bernard Martinez||49||26 laps||19.150|
|15||Steve Lopez||14||1-13||61 laps||19.109|
|16||Pierre Ehret||0||75 laps||no time|
|Round 1 - Red Line Oil Oval Championship and West Coast Series Points|
TOP 10 WEST DIVISION POINT STANDINGS
(After 7 of 11 rounds):
1. Selby, 285; 2. Beardsley, 250; 3. Bradley, 231; 4. Ryley, 213; 5. McMurry, 207; 6.
Sterenberg, 195; 7. McMillan, 178; 8. Kusy, 161; 9. Hatle, 152; 10. Ehret, 148; Willman, 148.
TOP 5 MASTER SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP
(After 7 of 11 rounds):
1. Hatle, 112; 2. Emanuel, 91; 3. Fletcher, 79 4. Rick Waddell, 58; 5. Michael Choquette, 51.
TOP 10 RED LINE OIL OVAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINT STANDINGS
(After 3 of 3 rounds):
1. Beardsley, 60; 2. Ryley, 43; 3. Selby, 42; 4. Martinez, 32; Bradley, 32; 6. McMurry, 30;
7. Fletcher, 19; 8. Sterenberg, 18; 9. Ehret, 15; 10. Kusy, 14.