May 27, 2012
On Carburetion Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tony George Jr. was asked by a member of the media, "So where are all the Americans in the field?"
His eloquent answer? "They're coming."
Leading the charge are three of the top young American open wheel racers in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system. In tonight's Round 5 of the 2012 of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the Night Before the 500, Californian Connor De Phillippi, winner of this event last year, won again from the PEAK pole, leading the entire way in his No. 2 Juncos Racing / ModSpace Racing / One24 Mazda.
Finishing second was last year's Star Mazda Rookie of the Year and Nazareth, Penn., native Sage Karam in the No.88 Andretti Autosport / Comfort Revolution Mazda. Claiming the final spot on the podium was Karam’s teammate, Zach Veach, his second Star Mazda Championship podium. Each finished where they qualified.
This is De Phillippi's second win from the PEAK pole so far this season, including his victory in Race 1 of the season-opener at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, closing the gap between him and Team Pelfrey’s Jack Hawksworth, who finished eighth in the race. Karam moves up from seventh to sixth in the point standings and is headed next to Iowa Speedway, where he won last year. Veach jumps from 12th to ninth.
"Our plan was to build a lead over four or five laps and then control the pace of the race, which, even with two short yellows and two re-starts, is what we did," De Phillippi said. "This is probably my favorite victory so far because when we came here for the series test on May 5, we were about three-tenths off the pace. So we went back to the shop and went to work and figured it out as a team, and this is absolutely a victory not just for me but for the entire Juncos Racing organization. And what we achieved here really provides a good foundation, both operationally and mentally, for the next race on the schedule, the 1-mile oval at Iowa Speedway."
Rounding out the top-five were Martin Scuncio, who started seventh in the No.22 Juncos Racing / Pullman Bus Mazda and moved up to finish 4th. Finnish racer Petri Suvanto, who won the USF2000 race here last year and went on to win the championship and Mazda Road to Indy scholarship that funds his 2012 Star Mazda campaign, started 5th and finished 5th after missing the three-hour test session on Friday as his team chased 'electrical gremlins' in his No.81 Team Pelfrey / Mazda Road to Indy / RKM Building Mazda.
Gustavo Menezes, who qualified an uncharacteristic 11th in his No.83 Team Pelfrey / TrueCar.com Mazda, raced through the field to finish sixth.