What off season?
Connor De Phillippi started off the 2011 season right where he ended his 2010 campaign: Victory Lane.
Not only did De Phillippi win his second consecutive (and second ever) Star Mazda race last weekend, he helped Team Pelfrey become the first team in modern Series’ history to win its first-ever race.
The 18-year-old pilot qualified third for last weekend’s race with Juncos’ driver Martin Scuncio snagging the pole on a last-lap flyer. Another Team Pelfrey driver, Nick Andries, led for the bulk of the session but ended up P2 as the checkered flag waved on Saturday’s qualifying session. It was the first pole position of Scuncio’s career.
In the race, Andries saw his day come to a premature end as he clipped the curbing in turn two, breaking his suspension. De Phillippi, meanwhile, managed several early restarts before making a move on Scuncio following a restart on lap five. After taking the point in turn one, De Phillippi never looked back, crossing the stripe two seconds ahead of Scuncio as the checkered flag waved.
Not only did he win his last two races, but De Phillippi has now set the fastest laps of the race in his last three outings — using two races (Mosport and Road Atlanta) from last season.
Frenchman Tristan Vautier, who has been a driver to beat during pre-season testing, quietly drove to a solid third-place finish in the No. 5 JDC MotorSports entry.
Irishman Patrick McKenna — who finished runner-up in the 2010 USF2000 National Championship — finished fourth, just 6.441 seconds behind De Phillippi. Minnesota’s Chris Miller started his sophmomore season off on the right foot finishing fifth — a career best finish for the 21-year-old driver. He started eighth.
Also making a big charge through the field and drawing honorable mention was Nick Mancuso. The talented up-and-comer proved he’s ready to make the jump to open-wheel cars by driving from 13th to 7th. Carlos Linares also made a charge moving from 11th on the grid to 6th at the stripe.
Rookie Gustavo Menezes put together a solid first race in the No. 26 Juncos car by finishing eighth. Richard Heistand and Jerimy Daniel rounded out the top-10, respectively.