2004 Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear – Round 7 at Road America

Road America 500
Presented by the Chicago Tribune
Road America – Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
August 19 – 21, 2004

McDowell wins fifth at Road America

Saturday, August 20, 2004. Elkhart Lake, WI. Michael McDowell, of Phoenix, Arizona, has continued his summer hot streak, capturing his fifth victory in the Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear this afternoon in Round Seven at Road America. McDowell, the defending race champion, brought his Drive4USA/Sparco/Star Race Cars Mazda home ahead of Raphael Matos and championship points leader Dan DiLeo to score a string of back-to-back victories for the second time this season.

“My car was excellent all weekend and I have to give credit to the crew at Star Race Cars for all the time they put into the car to keep it at the front of the field,” McDowell said afterwards. “We were at the top of the charts for most of the weekend, started third after a blip in qualifying, but I knew the car would be right there in the race.”

When the green flag fell McDowell was able to work himself past Scott Jenkins into second place before a full course caution came out to clear an incident in turn five. On the restart McDowell was able to get a run on his teammate, DiLeo, to claim the top spot, which he would never relinquish. “When we raced here last year I learned how important restarts are and was able to get a run on Dan when we went back to racing,” McDowell explained. “Later when I was bringing the field to the green for a restart I was able to get a strong restart once again.”

While DiLeo held onto the second spot for most of the 19-lap race, it was Matos, from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, who was sitting in second at the checkered flag, as the Hearn Motorsports driver was able to pounce in the closing laps of the race when DiLeo carried too much speed into turn five. “I had a race winning car today but Dan did an excellent job defending second place for most of the race,” Matos related. “As we came into turn five on lap sixteen Dan went in a little to deep and I was able to get inside and carry the momentum up the hill into turn six.”

DiLeo, who had called the braking zone in turn five one of his favorite features of the 4.048-mile circuit, recovered quickly but the Toronto, Canada, native would be unable to reclaim the second spot. “I made a couple of mistakes today and Michael and Raphael were right there to take advantage.” DiLeo, who has finished on the podium in every race this season, said afterwards.

Finishing just off podium was Michael Potekhen, of Silverthorne, Colorado in the Smith Optics/Eurosport Racing Mazda. The winner of the Portland round, Potekhen was locked in battle with Scott Jenkins, Brian Frisselle and Luis Schiavo for most of the event.

The event was interrupted by two full course caution periods. The first, on the opening lap, was to clear an incident between Dan Weyland and Steve Cook at the exit of turn five and the second came out after Kurt Roehrig and Mark Pavan tangled in turn six. Frisselle, a finalist in the 2004 Red Bull Driver Search, was having a strong run and had been running as high as fourth in his Ventura Travel Services Mazda before contact with Luis Schiavo sent him off track in turn one, bringing out a local caution to free him from the gravel on the tenth lap of the race.

With three round left in the championship DiLeo holds a 24-point lead over McDowell while Jenkins sits in third place an additional 15 points in arrears. In the Expert division, for drivers aged 30 to 44 years old, Mike Anderson is out front in the HASA Pool Products Mazda with 102 points. In the Masters division, for drivers aged 45 and older, Doug Peterson leads the way in his 3-Dimensional Services Mazda with 134 points.

Round Eight of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear will be held at Road Atlanta as part of the Petit Le Mans weekend activities. Round Seven from Road America will be televised on Speed Channel on September 19th at 2:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. For more information please visit www.starmazda.com.

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