NASCAR Busch Series Goulds Pumps ITT Industries 200
Nazareth Speedway / Nazareth, PA
May 16-17, 2003



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Friday, May 16, 2003 Saturday, May 17, 2003
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Rudolph awarded victory at Nazareth Speedway

May 17, 2003. Nazareth, PA. When Alan Rudolph learned that he would be racing on the one-mile oval at Nazareth Speedway as part of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship, the karting champion sought advice from another karting champion with oval experience, former CART ChampCar driver Bryan Herta. Herta’s words of wisdom would prove invaluable as Rudolph finished second on track and was later awarded the victory after the provisional race winner, Moses Smith, was disqualified for a technical infraction.

“Bryan and I talked on the telephone for about fifteen minutes regarding oval racing, and this track in particular and his advice really helped me in the race,” Rudolph explained. “With this being my first oval race, and with Nazareth being such a technical track, having someone with his experience giving pointers on how to get around the track helped me in both qualifying and even more so in the race. He’ll definitely be getting a thank you call.”

While he would learn later that he had been awarded the victory, Rudolph left the track believing he had finished second in the RBI Diamond Tools Mazda to Moses Smith’s HASA Pool Products Mazda. On track Smith put in an impressive performance cutting through the race traffic to take the checkered flag for what appeared to be his second consecutive oval victory. “I was on the way to the airport when the team called me to give me the news,” Rudolph said. “You always want to earn the victory on the track, and if we had had better breaks in the traffic we might’ve been able to challenge Smith on the track as the Team Bucknum car was getting faster all race, and by race end we were catching Smith by half a second a lap. With points being so valuable in this series though, we will take them any way we can.”

With the finishing order being shuffled on the heels of the disqualification, Jamie Bach, another Rookie-of-the-Year contender was moved up to second in his BK Motorsports Dell Computers sponsored Mazda. “We couldn’t be happier with our results this weekend,” Bach commented after the race. “We managed to stay out of trouble during the race as we worked our way up through the field. There were a couple of close calls with lapped traffic and on the restart as we were all battling wheel to wheel for position, but we were all giving each other room to race.”

Claiming third place and his first podium in Star Mazda Series North American Championship competition was Rudolph’s Team Bucknum teammate John Olsen in the Piloti Land Group/Rotary Rockets/Derek Daly Mazda. “Traffic was a make or break situation today,” Olsen stated. “I was able to use it to move up though the field during the race and in the closing laps it hurt me as I got forced onto the grass by a lapped car and Rudolph and Bach were able to keep up the momentum and get past me.”

While Smith, Rudolph, Bach and Olsen were all able to negotiate the traffic without incident not all the drivers were quite so fortunate. Early in the race pole-sitter Michael McDowell was forced wide as he was going through turn three and brushed the wall in his Star Race Cars/MMI Karting/Western Titanium/Mega Metals Mazda. While he was initially able to keep up the pace, he would start to fall back as his right rear tire started to go flat. “I was going around on the outside of a slower car and when Mike Potekhen went to the inside of the car the lapped driver moved up and I got pinched into the wall,” McDowell explained. “By the end of the race I probably had about three pounds of pressure in the tire and was doing all I could to hold on to the finish, which is a shame because my crew had given me an excellent car.”

Potekhen, the early race leader, would have his race cut short early when a tangle with lapped traffic would force him out with damage to his right rear suspension and bring out the only caution period at the halfway point of the 50 lap event. “I was moving around a lapped car on the outside when he started drifting up the track. I moved higher and wound up in the marbles and the wall pinched off at that point,” a disappointed Potekhen commented.

The incident would also collect Pennsylvania native James McCabe, making his series debut in the Lightspeed Motorsports Mazda, when debris would damage his car and send him into the wall. “Coming thought turn two I saw the incident up ahead but couldn’t avoid the debris,” McCabe said, describing his race-ending ordeal. “Whatever I ran over apparently severed one of the front brake lines so when I came into turn three I initially had no brakes. I pumped the pedal and then only the rear brakes grabbed, spinning the car around.”

With lapped traffic between him and his closest competitors, Smith was able to build up a comfortable lead as the race wound down, while Rudolph, Bach and Olsen all battled for position with Luis Schiavo and Ryan Justice. Schiavo would finish fourth while Justice, in his first-ever oval would finish a solid fifth. “The car was progressively getting quicker throughout the race, and I was able to move as high as fifth,” Justice commented. “With this being my fist oval race it was great to be able to set fast race lap, race side-by-side and race clean all day long. The car was terrific and I want to thank my crew and my sponsors Sikkens Paint.”

With Round Two in the record books McDowell, with 75 points, holds onto first place in the championship ahead of Rudolph with 74, while Olsen sits in third place with 71.

Round Three of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship will be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on June 13 –15 as a support event for the CART ChampCar Series.


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