Led by Grant Ryley, the World Speed Star Mazda team blazed through the competition at Texas Motor Speedway to grab victory and three other positions in the top seven places for Round Four of the Best Western Championship. Battling triple digit temperatures all weekend, the drivers and crew struggled with the heat but found the setup to stay on top of the leaderboard all weekend on the 2.5 mile infield road circuit.
“What can I say about the crew here at World Speed,” Ryley said afterwards, “they put everything they had into the car this weekend and kept us out front. To come to a track we had never seen before with these conditions and come out with a win is excellent.”
The victory made it two in a row for Ryley with the #14 Cupertino Electric/Del Monaco Specialty Foods Mazda, and moved him closer to current Best Western Series points leader Bernardo Martinez, who finished second to Ryley after an early race duel. “Bernardo actually got a good jump on the start but I was able to draft by and retake the lead, he was able to hold onto me in the draft for a while but I was able to use lapped traffic to break his draft and pull away,” Ryley said.
World Speed teammate Chantz Wade rounded out the podium bringing the #15 Shames Construction Mazda home third. “I would’ve liked to have been on the top spot of the podium, but I couldn’t hold on to the draft of the front two cars, and had to settle for third. I just want to thank Barry Shames for giving me the chance to drive and to the whole World Speed team for all their work this weekend.”
With first and third positions secured, Scott Bradley and Alex Figge continued the trend of odd finishes by claiming the fifth and seventh spots respectively. Bradley, in the #19 Polycom/Radvision Mazda, had a racelong duel with Jason LaPoint, the series point leader going into the event, before moving away in the closing laps. “The car was hooked up through the infield section of the track, but we just couldn’t draft anybody,” Bradley said. “LaPoint was able to get past me at one point and I had to make an outside pass going into the first corner to retake the position.”
Figge, driving the #18 ZeroWait/Bell Mazda qualified sixth and was starting to move forward when another car hit his right front endfence upsetting the aerodynamics and shuffling him back a few spots, but he fought back and moved his way back towards the front. “Someone hit me early in the race and I had to drive off track to avoid another car that had spun so it took some work to get back up to seventh,” Figge said.
Series newcomer Rick Waddell also had a strong weekend bringing his #17 Northwest SpeedWerx Mazda home 24th in the 35 car strong field, as he returned to the car for the first time following a spectacular accident at Sears Point when he was sent airborne by another driver.
The World Speed Mazda team now travels to Portland International Raceway, and hopefully cooler weather, for Round Five of the Best Western Series and Round Eight of the West Coast Series on September 8-10, with Ryley and Bradley both in position to challenge for the titles.