2001 Results - Star Mazda Series - North American Series

October 2-5
Road Atlanta

De Vellis Earns Second Win ... This One On The Track

FRIDAY, OCT. 5, 2001/ROAD ATLANTA--Winning his second Star Mazda Series race has been Marc De Vellis' goal since Portland, when post-race infractions against the on-track winner, netted the 19-year-old Canadian his first victory. "We work on our race program every day," said De Vellis of his family-run team. "There isn't much time when I'm not thinking about how to do better and go faster." There seems to be little doubt that De Vellis is figuring this out.

The seventh round of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship was held in conjunction with the ALMS' Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta and attracted a full field of 43 Star Mazda entries for the Friday afternoon race. Timed sessions started Wednesday morning, culminating with qualifying Thursday afternoon. Valley Motor Center drivers led most of the time sheets with Chad Block claiming the pole over teammate Oliver Rowen. De Vellis lined up third, followed by an impressive performance by Tim Jennings. Team Bucknum Racing's Scott Jenkins rounded out the top-five qualifiers. The big news from the timed sessions, however, was the return of Racers' Edge driver Michael Stephens, who got airborne in Thursday morning's practice and landed hard, luckily on all four tires, against the front straight wall. Stephens was OK and returned in a back-up car to qualify 10th.

From the pole, Block was hoping to add another win to his Sebring performance, but bad luck struck when Block dove into the pits after just one lap with a cut right-front tire. Valley mechanics quickly changed the tire and sent Block out, but he was now racing from the back, which would prove interesting to watch. This immediately moved everybody up one position, putting Rowen out front with De Vellis, WorldSpeed's David Stover, Jennings, Lightspeed's Matt Beardsley, SierraSierra's Moses Smith and current points leader Scott Bradley, from the World Speed stable, in pursuit.

When the first green came out, Block paced the field through Turn One and up the hill. Everyone made it through cleanly, but it quickly turned chaotic in Turn Two when SierraSierra's Frank Bain got tapped from behind and turned sideways in the middle of the track. The melee claimed not only Bain, but also Lightspeed's Doug Peterson, Eurosport's Dan Weyland and Lone Star Racing's Dan Tomlin III. With the track blocked, a full-course yellow was called and that was when Block pitted. The field circulated behind the pace car until lap six.

The top three remained intact on the restart, but Smith and Bradley were on the move, as was Block, who was gaining two and three positions each lap (at the checker, Block finished an impressive 11th , and also set the race's second fastest lap). Just before the halfway point, the best racing involved the battle for fourth among Smith, Bradley, Beardsley, Jenkins, Jennings and Stephens. Up front, Rowen was holding off De Vellis, while Stover was comfortably hanging onto third. On lap 10, however, Rowen
slowed for lapped traffic and De Vellis looked inside Rowen in Turn 10, claiming the lead as the pair headed down the hill to start/finish.

"I was following Oliver and I could see I was catching him," De Vellis explained. "I got close enough to hear his motor, so I started thinking about where I could pass. I drove over the curbs in Nine and had
the momentum going into 10 when he slowed for the lapped car, so I went inside. Oliver gave me enough room and I carried it to start/finish."

With De Vellis out front and Rowen still pursuing from second, the next change in the top three came on lap 14 when Stover got a little out of shape in Turn Seven. That small miscue was enough to give Smith the opportunity he needed to take over third. "I think I had a better car on the front half of the course," said eventual third-place finisher Smith. "But, guys were getting the better of me into Turn 10, so I had to run defensively through there. I definitely worked for this one."

Stover, however, battled back, reclaiming third on lap 17. Three laps later, Stover's hope for a podium finish was over when he clipped a lapped car and went hard into the wall at Turn Five, bringing out the
second full-course caution. Stover, who was already driving a car that the World Speed team repaired from an incident earlier in the week, bruised his knee and ankle, but was otherwise OK. The race also ended prematurely for early contender Beardsley, who headed to the pits on lap 15 with the car stuck in fourth gear.

Unfortunately, time and laps ran out as the race ended under yellow with De Vellis pacing Rowen and Smith. Two drivers--Luis Schiavo and Tim Jennings--broke into the top five for the first time this season. Schiavo, who worked his way from ninth on the grid to finish fourth, attributed his performance to good planning. "I had a great time out there," said Schiavo, the 20-year-old student from Caracas, Venezuela. "I really worked hard and set-up good passes, but I still had to go in the grass to make a couple of them stick." Jennings, 20, also made his debut into the top five, admitting he was impressed with the amount of competitiveness he found up front.

"It's definitely raised another level," said Jennings. "All those guys I was running with today all showed great aggressiveness, bravery and talent. I'm just so proud we proved we could run with these guys."

Just before the race-ending full-course yellow, Rowen ran the race's fastest lap, but it wasn't enough to catch De Vellis. "This race really boosted my confidence," said De Vellis. "I just tried not to look in
my mirrors and drive my own race."

In other race weekend notes, the field included more than a dozen "east of the Mississippi" drivers, of which about half were first-time Star Mazda Series competitors. We were also pleased Lightspeed's Tom Nastasi was able to race this weekend. The Stamford, Conn., resident is part of a construction team that is helping secure buildings damaged from the Sept. 11, attack in New York City. We also wished Beardsley good luck for his IRL test with Galles Racing at Texas Motor Speedway the following weekend.

The Speedvision telecast of the Oct. 5, Road Atlanta/Petit Le Mans event, featuring commentator Greg Creamer and pit reporter Calvin Fish, will be shown Monday, Nov. 5, at 8:30 p.m. & 12:30 a.m. (Nov. 6), Eastern time. In the Pacific time zone, the race will be shown during prime time at 5:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 5. Please check your local listings to confirm the dates, airtimes and any repeat broadcasts.

The next race is Oct. 14, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in conjunction with CART's slate of races. For more information about the Star Mazda Series North American Championship, please log on to the Star Mazda Series website at www.starmazda.com or contact series administrator Gary
Rodrigues at (818) 686-3359. --Jane Anderson

TIME OF RACE: 42m43.850s 
FASTEST RACE LAP: Rowen, 1:25.919 (106.426mph) 
LAP LEADERS: Rowen 1-9; De Vellis 10-23

Race Results

Event: Road Atlanta 2001
Run: Friday Race
Date: 10/5/2001
Time: 11:59:00 AM
Pos. No. Name Laps Diff. Time Best Laptime Nat.
1 67 Marc De Vellis 23   01:26.109 DeVellis
2 11 Oliver  Rowen 23 0.882 01:25.919 VMC
3 76 Moses Smith 23 3.554 01:26.971 SSE
4 81 Luis Schiavo 23 4.429 01:27.250 REM
5 70 Tim Jennings 23 4.99 01:26.585 JENNINGS
6 14 Scott Bradley 23 5.34 01:27.236 WSM
7 31 Scott Jenkins 23 5.798 01:27.271 TBR
8 80 Michael Stephens 23 6.733 01:27.151 REM
9 40 John  Intile 23 7.224 01:27.391  
10 77 Scott Kusy 23 8.339 01:27.938 VMC
11 32 Chad Block 23 9.635 01:26.053 VMC
12 97 Ed Zabinski 23 11.127 01:28.069 JZ Racing
13 65 Rob  Walker 23 11.944 01:28.016 VMC
14 48 Rick Ross 23 12.474 01:28.140  
15 43 Glenn Cooper 23 12.822 01:28.101 TmCoop
16 22 J.J. Fischer 23 13.386 01:28.250 VMC
17 23 Tom Nastasi 23 14.227 01:28.470 LSM
18 25 Ian Henderson 23 14.817 01:29.004  
19 82 John  Faulkner 23 15.375 01:28.880 REM
20 10 Bret Arsenault 23 16.6 01:28.425 TBR
21 73 James McCabe 23 17.127 01:28.484 Tm Malak
22 59 Bryan Willman 23 17.662 01:29.892 TBR
23 17 Rick  Waddell 23 18.467 01:29.518 WSM
24 69 Aaron Ogus 23 19.211 01:28.928 LSM
25 91 Larry DiBiase 23 19.701 01:29.453  
26 98 Clint  Field 23 20.591 01:29.435 JZ Racing
27 35 Tom Mabey 23 22.28 01:30.197 EURO
28 33 Dick Downs 23 23.934 01:27.949 EURO
29 26 Jason Shireman 23 24.572 01:30.189 Velocity
30 68 Russell Errigo 23 25.455 01:30.392 ATLR
31 62 Jamie Clark 22 -- 1 lap -- 01:30.336 ATLR
32 52 Jack Morris 22 1.03 01:31.860 SpeedCon.
33 42 Steve Weber 22 1.677 01:30.236 Tm Malak
34 72 Ginni Swanton 22 8.95 01:30.692 TBR
35 15 David Stover 19 -- 4 laps -- 01:26.901 WSM
36 58 Dan Tomlin Jr. 19 01:58.7 01:31.785 Tm Tomlin
37 12 Matt Beardsley 15 -- 8 laps -- 01:27.127 LSM
38 20 Richard Parker 5 -- 18 laps -- 01:49.539 JENNINGS
39 50 Justin Halsema 3 -- 20 laps -- 01:51.414 JENNINGS
40 87 Doug  Peterson 0 -- 23 laps -- --:--:--.--- LSM
41 99 Frank Bain 0 2.51 --:--:--.--- SSE
42 88 Dan  Weyland 0 6.343 --:--:--.--- EURO
43 56 Dan  Tomlin III 0 7.905 --:--:--.--- Tm Tomlin


Mazda Raceway Road Atlanta Qualifying Results


(After 7 of 8 rounds):
1. Scott Bradley, 260; 2. Chad Block, 244; 3. Marc De Vellis, 243; 4. Scott Jenkins, 224; 5. Oliver Rowen, 197; 6. Michael Stephens, 169; 7. Ed Zabinski, 168; 8. Scott Kusy, 165; Tim Jennings, 165; 10. Tom Nastasi, 151.

(After 7 of 8 rounds): 
1. Scott Kusy, 116; 2. Rick Waddell, 84; 3. Dan Weyland, 78; 4. Doug Peterson, 70; 5. Dick Downs, 66. 
*For drivers 45 years of age and older.


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