The Star Mazda Championship Race #2 at Exhibition Place in Toronto Sunday morning had a lot more chaos and mayhem than the previous day. Grip levels were at a premium and many drivers made several unforced errors creating what the Star Mazda PR folk called “an ugly mess.” Jack Hawksworth, started from pole thanks to his setting fast lap on his way to winning Saturday’s Race #1 and executed a great race strategy, managing his tires and his gap to P2 expertly.
““It was a great weekend. It was such a pleasure to drive the No. 82 Team Pelfrey car all weekend. The team has done such a fantastic job and it shows the team spirit and the determination throughout the whole team to come back from Iowa and respond with a result like this. I am already looking forward to Edmonton and can’t wait to get back out there! The (Toronto) track was great to drive and both races were very exciting with many safety car periods making it difficult to build a gap over the opposition. Fortunately, I was able to get good restarts and always had a car capable of pulling a gap on the rest of the field.”” — Jack Hawksworth, #82 Team Pelfrey
Zach Veach started on the front row with Jack after finishing P2 in Race #1, his best finish of the year, but went wide in Turn 6 and wadded up his #77 Andretti Autosport/Team K12 machine on Lap 10 trying to chase down Hawksworth.
“First of all, I want to give a big thanks to my whole K12 Andretti Autosport crew for working so hard this weekend. I am very disappointed that today’s race went the way it did. We were running second and had a large gab over third, so I think we could have had another podium finish following yesterday. I got aggressive trying to catch the leader and made a mistake, but that is a part of learning. We’ve learned a lot and I feel I’ve improved from St. Petersburg to today. We will keep looking forward and onto Edmonton. I think we have a good chance of doing well there. I just want to thank everybody again for working so hard and to K12, Zakoski Data Backup, Young Marines, Replay XD, ADS, OMP, and Arai Helmets for their continued support.” — Zach Veach, #77 Andretti Autosport
While many drivers were having difficulty either by causing mayhem or by failing to avoid the mayhem created by others, there were a few drivers who were able to capitalize on the opportunities created by the mistakes of others. Sage Karam, who didn’t make it off of the starting grid during Race #1 thanks to a broken differential, started from dead last and fought, clawed, and raced his way back to the front finishing on the podium in P3.
“It is great to get a third place finish after the bad luck we had in yesterday’s race. We had done really well leading up to that and qualified second for the first race. After the transmission broke and not getting to run yesterday, it is unbelievable to make the charge from last to third place. That was the most fun I’ve ever had in an open-wheel race car. A lot of legends have raced over all of the bumps here and I think it made for a great race. All of the drivers in this series are awesome because they give you a lot of room, but race you really hard. Thanks so much to all of my Andretti Autosport crew members for their hard work this whole weekend.” — Sage Karam, #88 Andretti Autosport
Juncos Racing’s Diego Ferreira, part of the two-car #TeamViso effort, also had a great couple of races in Toronto. He repeated his P5 finish on Saturday’s race in Sunday’s Race #2, improving from his P8 starting position. Right behind Diego was Gustavo Menezes in his #83 Team Pelfrey/TrueCar.com machine. Gustavo started Race #2 in P10, but continued his trend of racing better than he qualifies and finished in P6.
Team Pelfrey’s Petri Suvanto blew through T3 taking the run-off road early in the race and rejoined well back in the pack. He’d make his way back up to P8, but his race and any hopes of contending for the championship were pretty much shot. Speaking of the championship implications, Juncos Racing’s Connor De Phillipi, who came to Toronto with the championship lead, saw that lead completely disappear. Connor would catch the tire barriers at the exit of Turn 3 after nearly running his hot rod into the Turn 3 wall after entering the turn way too aggressively. His P16 finish and JDC MotorSports’ Gabby Chaves’s P4 finish in Race #2 after a podium finish in Saturday’s Race #1 closed the gap between them to a mere eight points. Hawksworth, meanwhile, takes a dominating 39-point lead as the series heads to Edmonton in a couple week’s time. While Hawksworth is in a really good position right now, there are five drivers right behind him all separated by 18 points. A bad weekend for Jack and the championship complexion could change dramatically!
|Connor De Phillippi