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
limped back to the pits and no yellow was called until lap 52 when Booth and World Speed's Frank McCormick touched wheels in Turn Four. McCormick suffered damage to the left-rear tire and Booth retired to the pits a few laps later. The track went green on lap 56 with time and distance running out for Ryley.

"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
1 Matt Beardsley 75 19-75 --- 18.811
2 Grant Ryley 75 14-18 2.406 19.046
3 Bryan Selby 75 3.800 19.121
4 Chris McMurry 75 3.961 19.171
5 Scott Bradley 75 4.413 19.295
6 David Sterenberg 75 4.566 19.334
7 Taylor Fletcher 74 1 Lap 19.258
8 Scott Kusy 74 0.748 19.242
9 Dave McMillan 74 9.449 19.759
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


(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.

(After 7 of 11 rounds):
1. Hatle, 112; 2. Emanuel, 91; 3. Fletcher, 79 4. Rick Waddell, 58; 5. Michael Choquette, 51.

(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.