2004 Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear – Round 5 at Portland
American Le Mans Portland Grand Prix
Portland International Raceway – Portland, Oregon
July 22 – 24, 2004
Michael Potekhen Victorious at Portland International Raceway
Saturday, July 24, 2004. Portland, OR. Michael Potekhen, of Silverthorne, Colorado, wrapped up his first victory of the season in Round Five of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear, held today at Portland International Raceway. Potekhen brought home his Eurosport Racing/Smith Optics Mazda home 1.193 seconds ahead of series points leader Daniel DiLeo, with Portland resident Scott Jenkins completing the podium.
“It feels really good to win one of these things,” Potekhen remarked afterwards. “The team worked really hard this weekend and we’ve got a solid foundation for the second half of the season. We’re still in fourth place but we were able to gain a few points on the leaders, which will make the long drive home a little easier.”
Making his fifth consecutive podium appearance of the season with a solid second place finish in the Select Auto/Star Race Cars Mazda, DiLeo continues to maintain his grip on the championship points lead, surviving several close calls in the process. “On the final restart Raphael Matos got the jump on me and at the same time I got a jump on Michael McDowell and we came down towards the Festival Chicane three wide,” DiLeo explained. “Matos went into the corner pretty deep as he was fighting for his first podium of the year and Michael came down into him and I was able to get through into second place.”
Matos and McDowell, who saw his hopes for a fourth consecutive victory disappear in the incident, were both able to resume with Matos bringing his Showtime/Samsung/Skip Barber Mazda home eighth while McDowell hustled his Drive4USA/Star Race Cars Mazda back to eleventh, setting the fast lap of the race (1:12.346) in the process.
Protecting his corners also proved rewarding for Jenkins, who thrilled his hometown fans by bringing his Environmental Fibers International Mazda up from eighth at the start, after battling electrical problems in qualifying. “I told our Team Manager that I would be thrilled to finished on the podium today after the troubles we had in qualifying,” Jenkins said. “The crew at Team Bucknum came back with a solid car for the race and I saw a few of the incidents in the chicane developing and was able to avoid any damage.”
CR Crews III, the youngest driver competing in the series, continued his impressive string of finishes in the Blueacre Motorsports Mazda, with the sixteen year old Frisco, Texas, resident finishing fourth for the second straight weekend just inches off the rear of Jenkins as the cars crossed the finish line.
Moses Smith wrapped up the top five finishers as he worked his 3-Dimensional Services/Hasa Pool Products Mazda up from twelfth place while Racers Edge Motorsports driver Andre’ Desmarais gained the most positions during the 31-lap event, moving his Wheels Recondre Mazda up fifteen spots from twenty-first on the grid to finish sixth.
The race was interrupted by three caution periods for three separate incidents in the festival chicane. The first incident on the start forced Brian Thienes, Brad Coleman and Mike Anderson from the event, the second dropped Brian Frisselle and Ryan Justice out on lap eleven, while the final caution was brought out on lap fifteen when Ross Smith made contact with defending series champion Luis Schiavo, ending both of their races.
The series now has a one-week break before action resumes north of the border with Round Six of the championship to be held at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. Round Five from Portland is scheduled to be broadcast August 21st at 12:00 Noon Eastern Time on Speed Channel. For more information please visit www.starmazda.com