The Star Mazda season came to a close at Las Vegas Motor Speedway World Speed and the results found World Speed in a familiar position at the front of the field with driver Grant Ryley extending the team’s podium streak that lasted from the second race of the season and Scott Bradley finishing in the top five, however both fell a few points short of their title aspirations.
In the end of season totals Ryley, Bradley, Wade and Figge all finished in the top ten of the Best Western Championship, finishing second, fourth, sixth and seventh respectively, while Ryley and Bradley finished third and fourth in the Western Series.
Ryley, piloting the #14 Cupertino Electric/Del Monaco Specialty Foods Mazda for the final time, experienced extreme highs and lows over the weekend, from a malfunctioning car in the last practice session leaving him at the back of the field before qualifying, to a strong qualifying effort, then falling just off the top rung in the race and best Western Championship to being named driver of the World Speed Toyota Atlantic car in 2001.
“We had a tough fought season, and came close to the title, but Bernardo just had the consistency throughout the year,” Ryley said afterwards. “All season long Josh Huff and Mikel Miller have given me a great car and we’ve always been in the hunt at every race, and I just want to thank everyone at World Speed for the two years I’ve run the Mazda, and look forward to continuing with the team in the Atlantic car.”
Scott Bradley continued to impress everyone in his rookie season of Star Mazda competition bringing his #19 Polycom/Radvision/Peak Travel Group Mazda home on the podium four times, in the top five seven times and all twelve races in the top ten. “I had to fight the car early in this race, but after an incident with another car on track the car actually started working better and I was able to reel in the cars ahead of me, I hope we can used the information learned from this season to take the title,” Bradley said afterwards.
Alex Figge in the #18 Zero Wait/ Bell helmets Mazda continued to impress in the last race of the season running a strong fourth place and challenging for third when he was collected by another driver and forced to pit with three laps to go for a spare tire. “Scott Jenkins hit the back of my car on the final restart and cut down a tire, I was able to bring the car around for a new tire but lost a lap in the process, it’s a shame because the car was so strong there at the end,” Figge said.
The Northwest Speedwerks entry piloted by Rick Waddell continued to show improvement as he wrapped up his first season of motorsports competition 27th out of the 42 car field and finished fifth in the Western Series Masters Division. “Rick has really grown as a driver in this his first year in racing,” team owner Chuck West commented afterwards.
With six cars in the field it is difficult for all drivers to come home unscathed and unfortunately this race was to collect two World Speed drivers. Frank McCormick, competing a limited schedule, was knocked out of the race when another car slid into his left radiator at the start of the race, and Chantz Wade fell of the track seven laps later and out of the competition.