De Phillippi Wins Star Mazda Night Before the 500

AMERICAN OPEN WHEEL STARS CONNOR DE PHILLIPPI, SAGE KARAM AND ZACH VEACH FINISH 1-2-3 IN STAR MAZDA ROUND 5 AT THE 67th ANNUAL NIGHT BEFORE THE 500 

On Carburetion Day at the Indy Motor Speedway, Tony George Jr. was asked by a member of the media, "So where are all the Americans in the field?"

His eloquent answer?  "They're coming."

Indeed.  And leading the charge are three of the top young American open wheel racers on the Mazda Road to Indy.  In tonight's Round 5 of the 2012 of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the Night Before the 500, Californian Connor De Phillippi, winner of this event last year, won again from the PEAK pole, leading the entire way in his #2 Juncos Racing / ModSpace Racing / One24 Mazda. 

Finishing 2nd was last year's Star Mazda Rookie of the Year, and winner of two of the three oval races on the schedule, Nazareth, PA native Sage Karam in the #88 Andretti Autosport / Comfort Revolution Mazda.

 And claiming the final spot on the podium was one of the youngest drivers in the field, Zach Veach of Stockdale, OH, driver of the #77 Andretti Autosport / K12.com / Zakoski Data Backup Mazda.  Each finished where they qualified... which says little about how fast and competitive this race actually was.

This is De Phillippi's second win from the PEAK pole so far this season, including his victory in Race 1 of the season-opener at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.... but still leaves him second in the points championship, albeit only by 12 points, behind Jack Hawksworth, who has also win two races and finished 8th tonight.  Karam has now scored his second 2nd-place finish of the season, benefiting from the points shuffle as he moves up from 7th to 6th and is headed next to Iowa Speedway, where he won last year.   The tonight's 3rd-place finish is Zach Veach's first podium finish of the season, and jumps him up the championship ladder from 12th to 9th.

"Our plan was to build a lead over four or five laps and then control the pace of the race, which, even with two short yellows and two re-starts, is what we did," said the thoughtful winner.  "This is probably my favorite victory so far because when we came here for the series test on May 5, we were about three-tenths off the pace.  So we went back to the shop and went to work and figured it out as a team, and this is absolutely a victory not just for me but for the entire Juncos Racing organization.  And what we achieved here really provides a good foundation, both operationally and mentally, for the next race on the schedule, the 1-mile oval at Iowa Speedway."

Rounding out the top-5 were Martin Scuncio, who started 7th in the #22 Juncos Racing / Pullman Bus Mazda and moved up to finish 4th.  Finnish racer Petri Suvanto, who won the USF2000 race here last year and went on to win the championship, along with the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship that is funding his 2012 Star Mazda campaign, started 5th and finished 5th... all the more remarkable for missing the three-hour test session on Friday as his team chased 'electrical gremlins' in his #81 Team Pelfrey / Mazda Road to Indy / RKM Building Mazda. 

And it would be remiss not to mention the efforts of Gustavo Menezes, who qualified an uncharacteristic 11th in his #83 Team Pelfrey / TrueCar.com Mazda and raced through the field to finish 6th.

Pos/ No./ Name/ Laps/ Diff/ Gap/ Best Tm/ Best Speed/ In Lap/ Sponsor1  2  Connor De Phillippi 100  20.420 120.940 5 ModSpace Racing / One24 2 88 Sage Karam 100 1.737 1.737 20.691 119.356 5 Comfort Revolution3 77 Zach Veach 100 3.463 1.726 20.806 118.697 5 K12.com / Zakosi Data Backup4 22 Martin Scuncio 100 4.664 1.201 20.850 118.446 3 Pullman Bus5 81 Petri Suvanto 100 6.052 1.388 20.863 118.372 5 Mazda Road to Indy / RKM Building

 Star Mazda Championship cars all carry two Replay XD1080 cameras to provide exciting driver POV footage for races that are broadcast tape-delayed during the Mazda Motorsports Hour on Discovery's Velocity Channel.  Round 5 of the Star Mazda Championship at the Night Before the 500 will air on Monday, June 18 and Saturday, June 23 at 12 Noon ET.  Click here to search for the Velocity channel in your area.

Round 6 of the 2012 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear - a race that Sage Karam won last year - takes place at the Indy Grand Prix of Iowa on the 1.0-mile Iowa Speedway, June 22-23.

Click here for the Petri Suvanto web site - designed and built by Racecar

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