2001 Results - Star Mazda Series - West
Phoenix International Raceway
Jenkins captures first Red Line Oil Oval Championship Race
|SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 2001/PHOENIX INT'L RACEWAY--Scott Jenkins wasn't fooling
around. From the pole, the 18-year-old's goal was to win by leading every lap of the first round of the Red Line Oil Oval Championship. "This weekend
was all about focus and determination," said the Team Bucknum Racing driver. "We worked hard on our oval set-up and it paid off in the end."
Jenkins finished 11th in the Best Western Championship last year and also earned a silver medal at the SCCA Runoffs at Mid-Ohio. This year, the Portland resident is focusing on a full Star Mazda Series North American Championship pro season as well as the Red Line Oil oval races.
Hosted by the Arizona Region, SCCA, as part of its Second Annual Spring Invitational to benefit Phoenix Children's Hospital, this was the third round in the Star Mazda Series West Division, but the first race in the three-event Red Line Oil Oval Championship. The next oval race is April 21, at Mesa Marin Raceway and then concludes July 7, at Irwindale Speedway.
It took an extra lap to get the 50-lap race underway, but Jenkins was in control both times, heading Jim Hall II, Bob Negron and Chris McMurry for the opening circuits. "I got the lead in the first turn and hdecided I was going to run the 10 fastest laps I've ever ran," Jenkins said. As the leader worked to extend his margin, battles developed throughout the field for almost every other position. Most impressive was the race among Hall, Negron and McMurry, who diced hard for second, with Negron re-claiming his original qualifying position on lap four and holding
it to the checker. Negron did mount a couple charges on Jenkins, but could never get close enough to seriously challenge the leader. "I was keeping track behind me," Jenkins said. "Whenever he'd get close, I'd try and run four or five quick laps."
Negron was nonetheless pleased with his trip to the podium and second-place finish. "Scott was definitely faster," the series veteran said. "I thought I was catching him a little bit in lapped traffic, but he'd pull away again."
Hall ran second for the first couple green laps, but felt he didn't hit traffic well. "There'd be two people racing each other ahead of me and I'd lose touch with the leaders trying to pass them safely and without interfering with their race," Hall explained. Hall held onto third, holding off Team Bucknum's Pierre Ehret in fourth, who also didn't catch traffic quite right. "I'd just like to say, however, that it's a real compliment to the series and the drivers that we ran this race with no yellows," Hall added.
Chris McMurry had one of those kinds of weekends. In the last practice session, a meeting with the outside Turn Two wall tweaked the frame on his Team Bucknum racer, forcing the team to a back-up car that was provided by local Phoenix Formula Mazda owner Rich Thorner. The team worked all night to get the car oval-ready and sent McMurry out to qualify Sunday morning. After being at or near the top of all the practice sheets, McMurry posted a sixth-fast qualifying time in the unfamiliar race car. Despite the setback and an early-race miscue in Turn Four, local Phoenix publisher McMurry put on a great show for his many enthusiastic guests, racing hard
with Valley Motor Center's Moses Smith and last year's West Division Master's champion Bob Hatle. "I got a little higher in Turn Four than the car wanted to go on that first lap," McMurry explained. "I was too high and on the quick dry and it went sideways. I'd like to say I saved it, but the car wanted to run low and corrected itself. There was a lot of heads-up driving out there behind me, especially by Jim Hall," McMurry said.
The last car on the lead lap was Taylor Fletcher, who started from the back after a post-qualifying technical infraction erased his times. Still, the San Clemente driver finished eighth. "It took me a while to get by some cars longer than others because everyone was racing so hard and strong," Fletcher said. He was one of the drivers who'd like to have had a longer race, that's for sure.
Perhaps some of the best racing, however, was behind the lead pack. Team Bucknum's Ginni Swanton and Valley's Chris Emanuel diced all race long, occasionally pulling Larry Couture and Swanton's teammate Bryan Willman along. "I hope people were watching our race because it was good," Willman said. "Racing with Larry was great. Every time I'd get close, he would pull away just a little. I just couldn't get a run on him, but we had a great race."
Swanton agreed, although she was definitely pleased with finishing ninth and ahead of her teammate. "I lapped Bryan and it gave me great satisfaction," Swanton said. "I had a lot of fun, especially dicing with Chris (Emanuel)."
The fourth round of the Star Mazda Series West Division is April 21, at Mesa Marin Raceway ... on the oval ... followed a week later with round five at Buttonwillow Raceway Park.
For West Division points, rookie Smith still leads with 118 points, although Hall is close at 111. Hatle moves into third at 94 with Ehret fourth and Couture fifth. In the Masters championship (for drivers 45 years of age and older), Hatle is now leading with 48 points to Scott Kusy's 40
points. Emanuel is third with 38 points.
In the Red Line Oil Oval Championship, points are calculated using the Master's Championship system. Jenkins leads with 20 points, followed by Negron at 16 and Hall with 14.
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
TIME OF RACE: 25m20.584s
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.488sec
RACE AVERAGE SPEED: 118.376mph
FASTEST RACE LAP: Jenkins 28.797 (125.014mph)
LAP LEADERS: Jenkins, 1-50
TOP 10 WEST DIVISION POINT STANDINGS
(After 3 of 12 rounds):
1. Smith, 118; 2. Hall II, 111; 3. Hatle, 94; 4. Ehret, 87; 5. Couture, 82; 6. Emanuel, 79; 7. Block, 78; 8. Kusy, 74; 9. Island, 59; 10. Shaiman, 56.
TOP 5 WEST DIVISION MASTERS SERIES* POINT STANDINGS
(After 3 of 12 rounds):
1. Hatle, 48; 2. Kusy, 40; 3. Emanuel, 38; 4. Island, 28; 5. Simons, 22.
*For drivers 45 years of age and older.
TOP 10 RED LINE OIL OVAL CHAMPIONSHIP
(After 1 of 3 rounds):
1. Jenkins, 20; 2. Negron, 16; 3. Hall II, 14; 4. Ehret, 12; 5. Smith, 11; 6. Hatle, 10; 7. McMurry, 9; 8. Swanton, 8; 9. Emanuel, 7; 10. Couture, 6.
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