Jeff Bucknum, in his second year of Star Formula Mazda competition, captured his second podium in three races for World Speed Motorsports in Round Three of the 1999 Star Formula Mazda Pro Series West season at Willow Springs Raceway yesterday. Bucknum, who qualified fourth despite a quickly-repaired car following an early practice session accident, set a consistent pace behind eventual race winner Joey Hand.
This wasn’t one of our better weekends, said Bucknum, who captured one win and two poles en route to third overall in last years Star series. I ran into Sara (Senske) in the Friday morning practice session and bent the right front corner. The team spent the day fixing the car, but it just didnt feel right. On Saturday morning, the car was just evil. We then found out a bent shock was causing the problem. With only one session before qualifying, we guessed at a set-up and ended up fourth on the grid. We were still about half a second off the pace going into the race, so I just tried not to make any mistakes and let the race come to me. Overall, it worked out pretty well. I’ll take a podium any day of the week, but we’ve got to work our way further forward if we’re going to beat Joey. Since we’ve got a strong race car for ovals, I think we’ll have a good shot at Pikes Peak next weekend.
World Speed Star Mazda rookies Grant Ryley and Pierre Ehret also showed promising signs of speed at Willow. Ryley, who captured pole position at Phoenix two weeks ago, started in the ninth spot and finished 12th. Ehret moved forward to finish 10th after starting 14th.
World Speed Motorsports dominance of the Formula Mazda series includes six championship and five pro series Rookie-of-the-Year titles since 1991. Most recently, the team captured five wins (Mike Miller 4, Bucknum 1) and two poles (Bucknum) en route to second (Miller) and third (Bucknum) in the 1998 Star Formula Mazda Pro Series championship.
Joining Bucknum, Ryley and Ehret in the World Speed Motorsports Star Mazd