September 10, 2000  - Portland International Raceway  (Round 5 Best Western Championship/Round 9 Western Chamionship)

Figge Races To Top Of Podium For First Pro Win

In Alex Figge's own words, his first career Star Mazda victory was "unbelievable." After leading the last 18 of 32 laps around Portland International Raceway's scenic 1.944-mile road course, Figge's popular and well-deserved win came after the World Speed Motorsports driver took over the lead following contact between leader Jason LaPoint and the then-second-placed car of Grant Ryley.  "Realistically, I was hoping for at least a podium finish," said the 19-year-old Figge, who in his first full season of Star Mazda competition, is sponsored by Zerowait Software, Bell Helmets and Seattime. "When I saw Grant and Jason come together, I knew I just had to get out of there."

The jostling among the top points leaders started in qualifying, where teams and drivers faced changing track conditions. It had sprinkled
just before the Sunday morning session, but the fast line on the track was dry. Still, drivers struggled with set-up, as evidenced by several
front-runners--including Ryley--making wholesale changes to their race cars in the pit lane. In the end, LaPoint, Ryley, Figge, points leader Bernardo Martinez and Scott Bradley secured the top five positions. 

A total of 42 cars posted qualifying times, including several newcomers as well as veteran, but not regular series drivers. Top runner
Dave Gaylord, of nearby Graham, Wash., was on hand to race at his "home" track and qualified 10th quick. Unfortunately, he won't make any more Star Mazda races this season, instead concentrating on his 24 Hours of Daytona program. The Redmond, Wash.-based Aubeta Motorsports team was present in full force, featuring leader Norm Hernandez; his son, Nathan; as well as Smokey Basler and Brad Drew working from under the Aubeta tent. Flat Out Racing brought rookies Aaron Ogus, Phil Fogg and James Shaiman, who impressed all with his 16th-quick qualifying effort. Another rookie and local Portland Spec Racer driver, Christopher Brown, joined Valley Motor Center for this hometown race, which also attracted Everett, Wash., driver Chuck Helm. Last, but not least, series veteran Bob Hatle received a warm
welcome back to Star Mazda racing after missing the Mesa Marin and Sears Point races while recovering from major surgery.

The green was shown to a tidy line-up of Formula Mazdas with LaPoint, Ryley and Figge breaking away from the anxious pack of cars--minus
seventh-quick qualifier Mike Potekhen and 26th-place starter Fogg--behind them. Potekhen barely completed the warm-up laps, fighting a misfiring engine, and Fogg pulled off with mechanical problems as well.  Unfortunately, the first race-related casualty was Team Bucknum's Chris
McMurry, who was carrying one of the two on-board camera cars for the Speedvision telecast (the other camera was riding with teammate Bryan Selby). The battery cable on McMurry's car disconnected after he bumped a curb on the first lap and the car couldn't be restarted. Other early departures included rookie Brown, who got hit from behind as the cars funneled through the chicane on the first lap, and West Division Masters Series points leader Hatle.

With the exception of Selby, who fell back to 14th place from his ninth-place starting position after an off-course evasive excursion, and Pierre Ehret, who jumped from 17th to 12th on the first lap, the top 10 spots remained relatively intact for the opening 10 laps. Ryley, though,
was working LaPoint while Figge observed from third. As LaPoint came off Turn 11 onto the front straight to complete lap 14, Ryley closed fast, set to trail LaPoint into the chicane. LaPoint turned in for the right-hander, but Ryley dove in as well, making contact with LaPoint. Both spun off course, with LaPoint faring the worst with collapsed rear suspension. Ryley collected his World Speed mount, but not before Figge, Martinez, Chantz Wade, David Sterenberg, Bradley and another 12 cars raced by and displaced him to 18th place and eventually to the
pits.  "I was on the curb when I got hit," said LaPoint, who admitted he was keeping an eye on Ryley, but didn't expect a pass attempt that early inthe race. I thought he'd stay there with so much time left. It's disappointing that it takes us both out of the championship."  

Ryley immediately accepted responsibility for the contact, admitting he made a bad choice. "On the straight, I threw a fake like I was going to the inside, but Jason held me off and it seemed he broke a little early for the turn," Ryley explained. "All of a sudden I was catching him and past my usual braking point and I came off the brakes for a second. That whole deal wasn't the right decision on my part."  

Officials dispatched the pace car to clear LaPoint, picking up new leader Figge. "I was watching them," said Figge, who's in his sophomore 
year at the University of Colorado. "I had to lock up the brakes when I saw Grant sliding across the track."

The race resumed on lap 18 with Figge towing Martinez, Wade, Sterenberg, Bradley and Ehret. Before the full-course yellow, however, Wade
had moved up from eighth to sixth on the start and then displaced Sterenberg for third on lap 12 as the pair raced into the first turn. "I tried to set a good pace for myself," Wade said. "Right before the halfway point, I radioed the crew for a lap count. The car got really loose and I couldn't believe we had 16 laps to go."

With the exception of one near-brush with the wall at the exit of Turn 12 on lap 20, Figge never flinched and held off Martinez to the checker to claim victory by just over half a second. "Bernardo was making me nervous, especially because I thought we had three or four laps to go when he was closing at the end," Figge said. On the victory podium, Alex's father, Tom, celebrated with his son, and commented, "This win is almost as good as Suzi's (Shinji) birthday party." (Shinji, who marked her 40th birthday at the track on Sunday, is the registrar for the both the Best
Western and West Division series.)

Martinez, who holds onto the Best Western points lead with his second-place finish at Portland, struggled with car set-up. "We worked on
it all weekend," said the Team Bucknum driver, who was racing with an annoying head cold. "We got lucky today."

Sterenberg, who today matched his career-best fourth-place Texas finish, recalled the two mistakes he made on the lap Wade got by for third.
"I was battling a dreadful oversteer and I almost lost it a couple times out there and Scott (Bradley) and Pierre (Ehret) would close up on me," the Star Mountain Racing driver said. Ehret, who started 17th, claimed an impressive fifth-place finish by passing Bradley on the last lap. "We ran into some traffic on the last lap and Scott drove a little too hard into Turn Five," Ehret said after his best finish of the season. "That gave me a
good run on him because he had to slow down and I passed him inside Turn Seven."

Bradley was understandably disappointed with his sixth-place finish. "This was my worst race of the year," said the 22-year-old World
Speed driver. "I would loose four car lengths on the straights. It was just frustrating."

Rookie Scott Jenkins, who recently turned 18, finished seventh after a close call with Selby on the third lap. "I went off course while I was side-by-side with Bradley, which sent Bryan into an evasive move," Jenkins explained. Even a little down on power and with a loose condition,
Jenkins was satisfied with his fourth top-10 finish.  

Rounding out the top 10 was Gaylord, Masters points leader Doug Peterson and rookie Shaiman. "Luckily, our race was pretty uneventful,"
said Shaiman, who did admit he was struggling with the gearbox in the race.  "Honestly, I didn't feel like I was driving fast, but we went faster in
each session, so I'm happy." Shaiman plans to run the Las Vegas finale and the full pro Star Mazda schedule next year.

In the Best Western points championship, Martinez maintains first place with 195 points. Bradley moves from fourth to second with 168. Ryley
is now third with 157, and Wade and LaPoint are tied for fourth at 152.  For West Division points, Selby is now leading over Matt Beardsley,
322 to 307. Bradley maintains third with 301 points, and Ryley and Sterenberg are tied for fourth with 252 points.

The sixth round of the Star Mazda Series Best Western Championship is Friday, Sept. 29, at Road Atlanta, in conjunction with the Petite LeMans event. The 10th round of the West Division race is Oct. 14, at Laguna Seca (which is also the seventh round of the Best Western series).  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 out to 10th place in the final point standings.

The Speedvision telecast of the Portland race, featuring commentators Derek Daly and Dorsey Schroeder, will be shown Oct. 9, at 8 p.m. EDT; and again at midnight that same evening. 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 or contact series administrator Gary Rodrigues at (818) 909-5319. -Jane Anderson

SUNDAY, SEPT. 10, 2000/ PORTLAND INT'L RACEWAY (1.944-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) 1:15.425; 2. Grant
Ryley/Saratoga, Calif. (Cupertino Electric, Del Monaco Specialty Foods/World Speed Motorsports) 1:16.054; 3. Alex Figge/Boulder, Colo.
(Zerowait, Bell Helmets, Seattime/World Speed Motorsports) 1:16.092; 4  Bernardo Martinez/Toledo, Ohio (3-Dimensional Services/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:16.529; 5. Scott Bradley/Redwood City, Calif. (Polycom, Radvision/World Speed Motorsports) 1:16.552; 6. David Sterenberg/Phoenix, Ariz. (Stockbridge Capital/Star Mountain Racing) 1:16.575; 7. Mike Potekhen/Silverthorne, Colo. (Troon Golf, Twin Seasons Vacations, Sports Car Ltd./Star Mountain Racing) 1:16.589; 8. Chantz Wade/Waco, Texas (Shames Construction, Advanced Micro Devices/World Speed Motorsports) 1:16.608; 9. Scott Jenkins/Portland, Ore. (A.G.G., PPTI Transport/Jenkins Racing) 1:16.681; 10. Dave Gaylord/Graham, Wash. (, Amsoil) 1:16.770; 11. Bryan Selby/Alpine, Calif. (Troon Golf, Red Line Oil, A Graphics Solution/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:17.025; 12. Chris McMurry/Phoenix, Ariz. (Fairytale Brownies, Northern Trust Bank, Washburn Dev., McMurry Publishing & Advertising/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:17.375; 13. Chad Block/York, Pa. (Minolta, Autosporttuning/Valley Motor Center) 1:17.473; 14. Matt Beardsley/Breckenridge, Colo. (Alpine Bank, Land Title/Valley Motor Center) 1:17.505; 15. Doug Peterson/Lake Orion, Mich. (3-Dimensional Services, Urgent Plastic Services/Formula Cars East) 1:17.519; 16. James Shaiman/Seattle, Wash. (Flat Out Racing) 1:17.546; 17. Pierre Ehret/SantaRosa, Calif. (Flamingo Resort Hotel, Santa Rosa, Calif./Team Bucknum Racing) 1:17.549; 18. Dick Downs/St. James, Minn. (Hormel Foods, Olympic Foods/Eurosport Racing) 1:17.597; 19. Scott Kusy/Scottsdale, Ariz. (Troon Golf/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:17.858; 20. Will Hill/Alamo, Calif. (Valley Motor Center) 1:18.058; 21. Brad Drew/Everett, Wash. (Coleman Outdoor
Products/Drew Racing) 1:18.156; 22. Aaron Ogus/Kirkland, Wash. (LapCritic/Flat Out Racing) 1:18.189; 23. Bryan Willman/Kirkland, Wash.
(Speedware/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:18.513; 24. Matt Downs/Butterfield, Minn. (Hormel Foods, Olympic Foods/Eurosport Racing) 1:18.585; 25. Smokey Basler/Kent, Wash. (Spartan Electric, Aubeta Networks/3rd Gear Racing) 1:18.805; 26. Phil Fogg/Wilsonville, Ore. (Flat Out Racing) 1:18.926; 27. Bob Hatle/Oceanside, Calif. (R.H. Racing) 1:18.941; 28. Ethan Hernandez/Seattle, Wash. (Aubeta Networks/Aubeta Motorsports) 1:18.951; 29. Bob Negron/San Jose, Calif. (Raceland) 1:18.966; 30. Frank McCormick/San Francisco, Calif. (Onyx Pharmaceuticals/World Speed Motorsports) 1:18.985; 31. Dan Weyland/Denver, Colo. (Western Eagle Racing/Eurosport Racing)
1:19.045; 32. Michael Choquette/Santa Barbara, Calif. (Heitmann Appraisal Group/Choquette Racing) 1:19.409; 33. Ginni Swanton/Kirkland, Wash. (Speedware/Team Bucknum Racing) 1:19.457; 34. Christopher Brown/Portland, Ore. ( Motor Center) 1:19.460; 35. Norm Hernandez/Redmond, Wash. (Aubeta Networks/Aubeta Motorsports) 1:19.485; 36. Dave McMillan/Pinyon, Calif. (HASA POOL Products/Sports Car Ltd.) 1:19.542; 37. Steve Lopez/Chandler, Ariz. (Speedvision, Botti Seats/Valley Motor Center) 1:19.553; 38. Tom Mabey/West Bountiful, Utah (Sahara Pro Planners & Builders, Larry H. Miller Automotive Group/Rocky Mountain Motorsports) 1:19.865; 39. Rick Waddell/Edmonds, Wash. (Mbox Design, Northwest Speedwerx/World Speed Motorsports) 1:20.143; 40. Chris Emanuel/Huntington Beach, Calif. (Airguard, Hawn/Valley Motor Center) 1:20.619; 41. Larry Couture/Claremont, Calif. (City of Hope National Medical Center, Rudolph & Sletten General Contractors/Team Hope Racing) 1:22.307; 42. Chuck Helm/Everett, Wash. (Everett Family Practice/Helm Racing) 1:19.899.

TIME OF RACE: 42m51.592s 
LAP LEADERS: LaPoint 1-14; Figge 15-32
FASTEST RACE LAP: Ryley 1:16.480 (91.506mph)

Round 5 -  Provisional Best Western Championship Results/ Round 9 Western Championship
Pos Driver Laps Laps Led Difference
1 Alex Figge 32 15-32 ---
2 Bernardo Martinez 32 0.549
3 Chantz Wade 32 11.712
4 David Sterenberg 32 14.016
5 Pierre Ehret 32 14.837
6 Scott Bradley 32 15.224
7 Scott Jenkins 32 16.771
8 Dave Gaylord 32 17.104
9 Doug Peterson 32 17.714
10 James Shaiman 32 18.362
11 Bryan Selby 32 18.966
12 Chad Block 32 34.443
13 Matt Downs 32 36.422
14 Scott Kusy 32 40.833
15 Will Hill 32 52.625
16 Bob Negron 32 56.011
17 Ethan Hernandez 32 57.684
18 Dan Weyland 32 1:01.045
19 Dick Downs 32 1:03.771
20 Chuck Helm 32 1:04.134
21 Norm Hernandez 32 1:04.182
22 Smokey Basler 32 1:07.121
23 Ginni Swanton 32 1:08.558
24 Tom Mabey 32 1:12.473
25 Dave McMillan 32 1:14.345
26 Steve Lopez 32 1:14.860
27 Michael Choquette 31 -- 1 lap --
28 Chris Emanuel 30 -- 2 laps --
29 Rick Waddell 30 2.999
30 Aaron Ogus 29 -- 3 laps --
31 Larry Couture 29 1:49.651
32 Bryan Willman 26 -- 6 laps --
33 Matt Beardsley 24 -- 8 laps --
34 Frank McCormick 20 -- 12 laps --
35 Grant Ryley 20 37.339
36 Jason LaPoint 14 1-14 -- 18 laps --
37 Bob Hatle 5 -- 27 laps --
38 Christopher Brown 4 -- 28 laps --
39 Chris McMurry 1 -- 31 laps --
40 Phil Fogg - -- 32 laps --
41 Brad Drew dq
42 Michael Potekhen dns


Round 5 - Best Western Championship Points

(After 5 of 8 rounds): 
1. Martinez, 195; 2. Bradley, 168; 3. Ryley, 157; 4. Wade & LaPoint, 152; 6. Figge, 138; 7. Sterenberg, 126; 8. Selby, 115; 9. Beardsley & Lopez, 111.

(After 5 of 8 rounds): 
1. Peterson, 84; 2. D. Downs, 57; 3. Mabey, 53; 4. Weyland, 52; 5. Choquette, 48.

(After 9 of 11 rounds): 
1.Selby, 322; 2. Beardsley, 307; 3. Bradley, 301; 4. Ryley & Sterenberg, 252; 6. McMurry, 242; 7. Ehret, 227; 8. McMillan & Figge, 213; 10. Kusy & Wade, 198.

(After 9 of 11 rounds): 
1. Hatle, 120; 2. Emanuel, 101; 3. Taylor Fletcher, 87; 4. Choquette & Waddell, 76.