Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Star Mazda: Road to Indy Signings (early commits)

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted January 8, 2012 at 11:03 am Signing, Star Mazda

The 2012 Star Mazda Championship will again open its season on the Streets of St. Petersburg. (Photo: Eric McCombs)

Are you looking to keep track of who’s racing with whom in the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder?  Well, you’re in luck.

Make the jump to read about each of the Star Mazda Championship drivers who have committed early for the 2012 season.

The following is an update of early signings for the 2012 junior formula open-wheel racing season. All have been previously documented on JuniorOpenWheelTalent.com’s Twitter account. So, if you want to make sure you’re getting the latest open-wheel news; follow here. For the complete Star Mazda update (as of Jan. 8, 2102), read on…

Part 2 of 3 Road to Indy signing updates.

Sage Karam – Andretti Autosport

  • Karam will return for his sophomore season in Star Mazda with Andretti Autosport. Last year, the 2010 USF2000 National Champ finished fifth in the final Star Mazda points standings. He completed the season with two wins (both ovals), three podium finishes, and seven top-fives. He was named Series’ Rookie of the Year. With a year of development under his belt, this could be Karam’s season to win the championship and move up the Road to Indy ladder.

Zach Veach – Andretti Autosport

  • Veach will make the jump to Star Mazda in 2012 after spending the last two seasons in USF2000 competition. Late last season, he made his Star Mazda debut at Infineon earning a top-10 finish. Three weeks later, he returned and finished on the podium (3rd) in just his second start. Veach, 17, has been preparing for the upcoming season in the Formula Car Challenge where he earned two pole positions and two wins in a Formula Mazda at Infineon Raceway. He’s done a nice job developing his skills and working hard. This could be a break-through season for Veach.

Jérimy Daniel – Daniel Racing

  • Daniel is another Star Mazda returnee from 2011. He finished 10th in the drivers’ standings at year end with four top-10 finishes and a best finish of fifth (Baltimore). He’s definitely flown under the radar with poor qualifying performances, but his race craft improved throughout the season. He showed improvement by finishing higher than his qualifying spot in nearly every start. If he can put together some good laps in qualifying to take the green flag farther up in the field in ’12, more top-fives are certainly within reason.

Juan Piedrahita – JDC MotorSports

  • Piedrahita will return to the Star Mazda Championship in 2012. The 19-year-old Mexican driver competed in Star Mazda in 2010 before taking a step back and racing in the USF2000 National Championship last season. While his results haven’t been phenomenal, he’s definitely an underrated driver who could easily fight at the front of the pack. Last year, driving for JDC in USF2000, Piedrahita earned two podiums. Most notable was his drive from ninth to third at Milwaukee. He has three-career top-five finishes in Star Mazda. Watch for that number to rise in 2012.

Carlos Linares – Linares Racing

  • Linares, 19, will be back in 2012 with his family-owned team Linares Racing. Last season he finished seventh in the championship with eight top-10s and one top-five finish (Barber Motorsports Park). At the year-end driver banquet, he was named hard charger for passing the most cars during the season. With another year of experience under his belt, this should be Linares’ best season yet.

J.W. Roberts– Team GDT

  • Team GDT owner and driver J.W. Roberts will return in 2012. The Texas-native has fielded several talented drivers over the past few years and will likely do the same this season. GDT hopes to field 2-3 cars.

Jack Hawksworth – Team Pelfrey

  • Hawksworth is a good find for Team Pelfrey and will add considerable depth to the Star Mazda field this season. In the Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy test at IMS this fall, Hawksworth topped all Star Mazda competitors by clocking a 1:25.431 lap. His initial car racing debut occurred in 2010 where he finished third in the Formula Renault 2.0 Winter Cup with two podium finishes and four pole positions. Last season, he finished fourth in the British Formula Renault 2.0 Championship compiling one win, four podiums, and one pole position. He will be a front runner in ’12.

Gustavo Menezes – Team Pelfrey

  • Menezes, 17, will return for his sophomore season in Star Mazda having shown speed and steady improvement throughout 2011. He diversified his skills competing in various junior formula car races last year, including time in Europe in a Formula Renault 2.0 machine. In Star Mazda, Menezes finished with one podium (Iowa), two top-fives, and nine top-10 finishes. With a solid testing schedule lined up, Menezes will definitely be a driver to watch in 2012.

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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