2003 Results - Star Mazda Series Red Line Oil Championship

Willow Springs International Raceway
February 21-23, 2003

Rudolph grabs first victory in Willow Springs shootout.


Sunday, February 23, 2003. Rosamond, CA  - In the final tune-up prior to the start of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship at Sebring International Raceway, series rookie Alan Rudolph captured Round Three of the Star Mazda Series Red Line Oil Championship today at Willow Springs International Raceway.

Rudolph, a national karting champion and instructor at the Bondurant Driving School, was able to take advantage of lapped traffic with two laps remaining to take the lead ahead of Mike Anderson, and ride the lead to the finish line. "He just caught that traffic at the wrong time while I was able to keep up my momentum coming through turn nine," Rudolph said as he described the move of the race. "We had a drag race down into turn one and went through the corner side-by-side but I was able to make it stick."

The Team Bucknum driver had his hands full over the final laps as he fought off a determined Anderson in his HASA Pool Products Mazda and for a brief moment it looked like lapped traffic would upset his victory chances as he caught a pair of slower cars in turn two on the final lap. "I caught them at the wrong spot going into two, but fortunately there was just enough room to the inside and I was able to get through without having to slow down too much," Rudolph explained.

Coming off a sweep of the double race weekend in Phoenix, Anderson once again set himself up as the driver to beat, topping the time sheets in all the sessions leading into the race and scoring his first pole position of the season. "The car was working well all weekend, and once again the support from all the HASA People at the race today was great," Anderson stated. 

"The lapped traffic was tough throughout the race and I was making some risky moves to get past them but with two to go I had to get out of the throttle for the lapped traffic in turn nine. I tried to hold the lead but he had more momentum into turn one. Still, I was able to stay in contact with him and when he ran up on the lapped traffic in two his car went a bit sideways but I couldn't get underneath him for the position," a disappointed Anderson said, describing those closing laps.

While Anderson and Rudolph had pulled away from the rest of the field of eighteen drivers, there were several intense battles down through the field, starting with the battle for third between John Olsen and series newcomer John Green. Olsen, the pole-sitter for Round One in Phoenix, was looking to put up a positive result after mechanical issues had sidelined him early in the first two rounds, while Green was just starting to get himself familiar with his Formula Mazda. Green initially held the advantage, placing his car on the front row for the start. When the green flag fell however Rudolph and Olsen were able to get the inside line and Green was forced to give way in turn one. "The start was a little disappointing," Green commented, "They got inside of me and then they came back up the track and I had to lift or go off the track."

As Rudolph set out to challenge Anderson for the lead, Olsen and Green would lock up in a battle for third for most of the race. "I knew Green was back there and he was making me work to keep the position but I was able to open up a little space when he spun behind me," Olsen said. "After the trouble we had at Phoenix it just feels good to finish the race, with a podium as a bonus."

Positions five and six continued the theme of veteran versus rookie as Jim Hall II battled Kyle Kelley as he made his series debut. Hall, a former race winner in Mazda competition had his hands full trying to chase down Green, just a few seconds up the track, while holding off a hard charging Kelley, who was voted the SoPac Driver of the Year for his Spec Racer efforts. 

Despite a crowded track, the eighteen Formula Mazdas were part of a field of over forty, with Formula Atlantics, Continentals, and Sports 2000 composing the rest of the field, the seventeen lap event was run without incident, with every car making it to the checkered flag. The only true harrowing tale coming from eleventh place finisher Ryan Justice who spent over half the race fighting handling problems, which was discovered to be caused by a valve stem failure on his left rear tire. "Coming through turn nine on lap four or five the car just went really loose," Justice explained afterwards. "Coming through the corners I would have to play with the throttle and brakes to keep the car pointed the right way."

The Star Mazda Series Red Line Oil Championship now takes a break until April 26-27, when the series will resume just outside of Bakersfield at Buttonwillow Raceway Park. 

The Star Mazda Series Red Line Oil Championship is an eleven race series, featuring races in Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington.

-Eric McCombs
Star Mazda Series
Red Line Oil Championship
Round Three - Willow Springs International Raceway
Sunday, February 23, 2003
Pos Driver Diff
1 Alan Rudolph
2 Mike Anderson 0.388
3 John Olsen 26.607
4 John Green 0.654
5 Jim Hall II 2.395
6 Kyle Kelley 0.693
7 Phil Fogg Jr. -- 1 Lap --
8 Brian McAtee 9.472
9 Scott Kusy 1.631
10 Brian Thienes 0.164
11 Ryan Justice 1.025
12 Phil Fogg Sr. 0.324
13 Rick Waddell 11.053
14 Taylor Fletcher 1.298
15 Chris Emanuel 13.952
16 Bob Hatle 1.025
17 Weldon Munsey 0.258
18 Garrett Dryson 0.047



Current Series Points

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