2004 Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear – Round 3 at Lime Rock

American Le Mans at Lime Rock Park
Lime Rock Park – Lakeville, CT
July 2 – 3, 2004

Michael McDowell records back-to-back victories

July 3, 2004. Lakeville, Connecticut. Building on the momentum of his victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course one week ago, Michael McDowell pulled away for his second victory in a row in Round Three of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear held today at Lime Rock Park.

McDowell, driving the Drive4USA/Sparco/Star Race Cars Mazda, had to fend off his hard driving teammate, and winner of the opening round at Sebring, Dan DiLeo, who recorded his third straight podium in his first three races of the championship. The youth movement on the podium was completed when another rookie, 16-year-old CR Crews III, recorded his first podium in only his second event.

“When it comes right down to it I really have to give the credit to the guys at Star Race Cars,” McDowell said. “These guys are the hardest working crew out there. They are the first to show up and the last to leave and each race they have given me a car that can run at the front of the field.”

McDowell led for the entire 44-lap event, but was under constant attack from DiLeo, who wasn’t going to let their friendship off the track keep him from trying to work his way to the front. “We are teammates and friends but when we are out on the track he is just another competitor,” Toronto, Canada resident DiLeo commented. “After the first restart I made a move to the inside going into turn one and we actually touched but I was able to back out and he kept the car under him. He’s got a couple of wins in a row now so now it’s my turn to run off a couple.”

Excited to be making his first podium appearance, Crews, who has just finished his freshman year of High School, was especially pleased with the result in only his second event. “Blueacre Motorsports has come together really quickly and to have a podium finish is awesome,” exclaimed Crews. “I turned 16 three weeks after Sebring so I had to miss the opening round and to come into a series as competitive as this and run as well as we did feels great.”

The event was broken up by two full course caution periods, the first coming on lap 7 when Marco Andretti, making his series debut for G&W Motorsports, made contact with Tom Nastasi as the two battled for position into turn one. “Coming onto the front straight it appeared that Andretti had lost some momentum and I moved to the inside,” explained Nastasi. “Ryan Justice moved to the inside of me and Andretti, on the outside as we entered the corner got into my sidepod and I got into Justice.”

The second caution period started on lap 23 when Raphael Matos slipped on oil left on the track in the initial incident when Nastasi limped backed to the pits and went into the wall outside turn seven.

Finishing just off the podium was another young driver making only his second start, Andersen-Walko Racing pilot Jonothan Klein. Though not a podium Klein was pleased with the finish after a frightening testing crash earlier in the week had left his primary car beyond repair for the weekend. “I have to thank Jon Marachi for allowing us to use one of their spare cars for the weekend and everyone at Andersen-Walko for getting things me up to speed,” Klein said afterwards.

Battling was intense throughout the field as 28 cars took the green flag for the event. Driving through the thick of things for the entire event was Mike Anderson, who managed to keep his nose clean as he moved up to eighth after starting nineteenth. “That was interesting,” Anderson related. “Cars were going three or four wide down the front straight. One lap my dad came over the radio to let me know someone was moving inside and I could only say ‘Inside! I’m already on the grass!”

Round Four of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear will be held with the American Le Mans Series event at Infineon Raceway on July 15-17. The Lime Rock Park round of the championship will be broadcast by Speed Channel on July 18 at 2:00 PM Eastern Time. For more information please visit www.starmazda.com.

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