Star Mazda – Vautier Cruises to Victory in Baltimore, Clinches Championship

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JDC MotorSports driver, Tristan Vautier, cruised to an easy win on the Streets of Baltimore this morning after qualifying on pole and leading every lap of the 21-lap event. Team Pelfrey’s Connor De Phillipi ran about a second behind Vautier during the first half of the race, but was never able to close the gap. A mistake would send De Phillipi to the lower half of the grid, one lap down, and taking him out of contention for the race and for the championship.

“I felt very much in control of the race right from the start, although I could see Connor De Phillippi in my mirrors and that always gives a little bit of pressure; but then at about the half-way point I didn’t see him anymore and they told me over the radio that he crashed, so that meant I could stop worrying about him and focus instead on not making a mistake. This turned out to be a very important race and it looks good for the championship but we must be careful that we do not take anything for granted. I am very thankful to the JDC team and my engineer Rick Cameron for a great car today and all season long. But I know that when we go to the finale at Mazda Raceway we will be prepared for a hard fight, like every weekend.” — Tristan Vautier, #5 JDC MotorSport

The race would end under yellow after a couple of late-race FCY, the last coming on L18. Both Andretti Autosport’s Sage Karam and Juncos Racing’s J.V. Horto earned their fourth podiums of the season finishing in P2 and P3, respectively. Horto’s teammate Gustavo Menezes finished P4 and Jérimy Daniel had his best outing of the season rounding out the top-5.

“It was a fairly good day. We had run only about 10 laps going into the race due to the delay on Friday and an accident yesterday. Unfortunately we didn’t have all the information we wanted to go into the race. We had a shot at winning the race near the end but didn’t take the risk, thinking we would have more time. Looking back I wish I would have taken the chance, but I wasn’t expecting that last yellow. Andretti Autosport did a great job with the setup for the MAZDASPEED/Comfort Revolution car and we did the best with what we had. I’m really pleased with second after starting fifth. Hopefully we can keep this going and gain another spot at Laguna.” — Sage Karam, #88 Andretti Autosport

Tristan came into the Baltimore race weekend with a 20-point lead over Connor, and his win today along with qualifying on pole and having the fastest race lap extends that lead to 38 points, all but securing the 2011 title. In order to officially claim the title, Tristan will need only to show up and take the green. Even if he starts and parks, he will earn enough points to prevent Connor from overtaking him.

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