British racer Hawksworth Wins From The Pole In Star Mazda Race 2 at Edmonton


 With a return of the sun and re-assumption of his now-traditional starting spot on the PEAK Performance pole, English racer Jack  Hawksworth won his sixth race of the 2012 season, leading from green to checkered in his #82 Team Pelfrey / TORGOEN Swiss Watches / EXA Networks Mazda.  Sage Karam, starting from 4th, finished - as he did yesterday -- second in his #88 Andretti Autosport / Comfort Revolution Mazda. Gabby Chaves, starting on the outside of the front row and happy to continue his podium streak but tired of the bottom step, finished third in the #19 JDC Motorsports / CLARO / Marca Colombia / Tecpro  Mazda... as he did yesterday.

"This is more like it," said the jubilant Englishman, celebrating his fifth win, sixth pole and eighth 'fastest lap' of the season.  "I got out front and was able to stay there during the re-starts, which is important, and could run the race the way I wanted to.  Yesterday was a bit of a mess with the rain, but we were leading on the last lap re-start before my teammate Gustavo Menezes and I got together.  My car was damaged a bit, but we still managed to finish 7th and turn the fastest lap, which gave me the pole for today's race.  So overall, not quite as good a weekend as Toronto where we won both from the pole, but those kind of weekends don't come along very often so I'm happy with what we achieved."

Yesterday's surprise winner in Race 1, Venezuelan driver Camilo Schmidt, a top South American kart racer making the jump directly to Star Mazda,  started 7th and finished 10th in his #21 Linares Racing Mazda.  Notable drives included Finnish racer Petri Suvanto, knocked out on the first lap yesterday and thus starting from the rear of the field today, slashed his way up to finish 4th in the #81 Team Pelfrey / Mazda Road to Indy Mazda, despite clouting the Turn 1 wall on Lap 10, an encounter that knocked his right-side suspension far out of alignment.  Suvanto's Pelfrey teammate, who destroyed his #83 Team Pelfrey / / Oakley Mazda in the last-lap melee yesterday, raced well in a car borrowed from Team GDT, starting 6th and finishing 5th. 

The other happy ending today was young Edmonton native Stefan Rzadzinski who had a coming-together with Petri Suvanto on the first lap yesterday; starting from 18th on the grid, he raced his #93 JDC Motorsports / Mazda up through the field to finish 6th.  Fellow Alberta driver, Blair Robertshaw, a 53 year-old businessman/racer making his professional open-wheel racing debut here this weekend, won the Expert Series for drivers 30 and older in both Races 1 and 2.  He finished 12th overall yesterday and 15th today.

The hard-luck story of the race, the weekend and indeed the last couple of races, belongs to Californian Connor De Phillippi driving the #2 Juncos Racing / ModSpace Racing / One24 Mazda.  After a disastrous weekend in Toronto two weeks ago, with finishes of 7th and 16th respectively in Races 1 and 2, he came to Edmonton hoping for a change of luck to get his championship hopes back on track.  A 5th-place finish in Race 1 seemed to hold out some hope, but he turned only the 14th-fast lap, and so started today's Race 2 buried well in the field.  A first-lap encounter with the wall on the last turn right before the pit entrance tore the nose completely off his car and he re-joined the field a lap down.  With his car still running but wounded, he finished 14th and dropped from 2nd in the championship points to 4th.

The first full-course yellow of the race came late, on lap 15, when Toronto racer Zach Meyer tore the left rear corner off his #66 AIM Autosport / Damis Partners III Mazda; the car wound up in the grass, but debris littering the track forced the track safety crew to roll.  The race went green on Lap 20, and Martin Scuncio almost made himself the hero of the race with a daring - but ultimately unsuccessful -- charge for the lead in his the #22 Juncos Racing / Pullman Bus / Gobierno Regional del Bio-Biol Mazda.  On the first lap of the re-start, Zach Veach, who spun in the rain and finished 9th yesterday, hit the Turn 9 wall in his #77 Andretti Autosport / K12 / Zakosi Data Backup Mazda, bringing out yet another full-course yellow.

Green-flag racing resumed on Lap 23 with just a few minutes left in the race, but Scuncio, a hero just a few laps earlier, had a coming-together with two of his Juncos racing teammates in the entry to Turn 1 that took them all out and triggered a spin by Camilo Schmidt who was on his way to a top-5 finish; he was forced off-course and then spun through traffic in the middle of the turn, losing five places.

With today's provisional results, Jack Hawksworth expands his lead to 243 points.  Gabby Chaves moves up to second with 194, Sage Karam is in third with 191 and Connor De Phillippi drops to fourth.  Chaves has a comfortable lead over Petri Suvanto in the battle for Rookie of the Year honors, and the team championship changed hands this weekend; Juncos Racing came in leading but leaves with Team Pelfrey on top 261 points to 244. 

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