2001 Results - Star Mazda Series - West

January 13-15, 2001
Phoenix International Raceway

Double-Header Produces First-Time Winners Block And Smith


The 2001 Star Mazda Series West Division Championship may have gotten off to an early start, but the reward was a double race opportunity at Arizona Region's popular Snowbird Nationals. The three-day weekend actually started on Friday with a region-sponsored test day and then proceeded into official practice and qualifying on Saturday. SCCA National races were held Sunday and Monday.

Moses Smith, of nearby Chandler, Ariz., claimed the pole for both races, then split the wins with Block, who led on Sunday to the checker. On Monday, Smith lined up next to Star Mazda veteran Jim Hall II, but learned his lesson from Sunday's start and held off Hall and Scott Kusy to claim his first career Star Mazda victory. "Starting from pole two days in a row was very exciting, but winning my first race was overwhelming," said the 23-year-old Smith, who ran one Star Mazda race last year, finishing 13th at Laguna Seca.

Likewise, Block, 22, of York, Pa., registered his first Star Mazda win, bettering his highest finish-ninth at Road Atlanta last year. "I just tried to run perfect laps and keep an eye what was going on behind me," said Block.

For the first race, Smith paced Block as the 16-car field headed into Turn One. Block, however, had the better line and quickly took over the lead, leaving Smith to defend second from Hall. By lap five, Block's margin over Smith and Hall was increasing, but Hall had found a way by Smith for second. Behind the top three, Pierre Ehret, James Shaiman, Kusy, 2000 West Division Masters champion Bob Hatle, Dave McMillan, Steve Lenzmeier and Ron Island battled for the top 10 positions. Ehret led the charge until lap six when he spun in Turn Nine and dropped to 11th. Lenzmeier also had trouble two laps later, falling from eighth to 12th.

Both recovered and continued racing, but Ehret spun again-this time in Turn Six-after climbing back up to eighth. One of the best races on the track, however, was between Kusy and Shaiman, who were dicing for fourth place until Shaiman slowed on the front straight on lap 15 with apparent fuel
pick-up problems. The Seattle, Wash., driver still managed to finish fifth behind Kusy. The race between Hall and Smith wasn't quite over, though. On the last lap as the pair entered Turn Two, Smith made his move and reclaimed second from Hall.

On Monday, Smith held onto his lead to the checker, despite a three-car-wide dash into Turn One. The tight quarters claimed Ehret, who went wide in avoidance and ended up skimming the outside Turn One wall. Luckily, he was OK, but done for the weekend. Aaron Ogus also spun on the opening lap--unrelated to Ehret's incident--and was able to continue. Up front, Smith was pulling away from Hall, but it was Kusy who was on the move. The Scottsdale, Ariz., resident got by Block on lap five, then battled with Hall for six laps until he made a pass in Turn Nine.

"All of a sudden the opportunity was there," said Kusy, whose best finish in 2000 was fifth at Thunderhill, "but, I really didn't think I was gonna make it." Hall agreed with Kusy's assessment of the pass. "I didn't think he could make it either, but he covered it well," Hall said.

For West Division points, rookie Smith leads with 86 points, followed by Block at 78. Hall and Kusy are tied for third with 74 points each. In the Masters championship (for drivers 45 years of age and older), Kusy leads with 40 points over Hatle at 32. Island is third with 28 points.

The third round of the Star Mazda Series West Division is March 31-April 1, back at PIR--this time on the oval. This race will also mark the opening round of the three-race Red Line Oil Oval Championship for the Star Mazda Series, which also includes a race at Mesa Marin in April and a
stop at Irwindale in June.

For more information about the Star Mazda Series West Division 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
January 14, 2001 (Race #1) January 15, 2001 (Race #2)
21 Laps 21 Laps
1 Chad Block 1 Moses Smith
2 Moses Smith 2 Scott Kusy
3 Jim Hall II 3 Jim Hall II
4 Scott Kusy 4 Chad Block
5 Dave McMillan 5 Bob Hatle
6 Bob Hatle 6 Dave McMillan
7 James Shaiman 7 Ron Island
8 Ron Island 8 Steve Lenzmeier
9 Pierre Ehret 9 Larry Couture
10 Steve Lenzmeier 10 Aaron Ogus
11 Larry Couture 11 Chris Emanuel
12 Frank Eckert 12 James Shaiman
13 Gary Hutto 13 Pierre Ehret
14 Chris Emanuel 14 Don Simons
15 Aaron Ogus    
16 Don Simons    
Pole:  Moses Smith 1:00.390 Pole: Moses Smith 1:00.415
Star Mazda Series - West Points
1 Smith, 86 8 Couture, 56
2 Block, 78 9 Ehret, 53
3 Hall II, 74 10 Emanuel, 52
4 Kusy, 74 11 Ogus, 52
5 Hatle, 64 12 Simons, 47
6 Island, 59 13 Hutto 26
7 Shaiman, 56    
Star Mazda Series - West Masters Points
1 Kusy, 40 4 Emanuel, 24
2 Hatle, 32 5 Simons, 22
3 Island, 28    
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