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Aug 29, 2014 - 07:09 AM
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Team Pelfrey Finishes the Pro Mazda Season with a Flourish
Posted by: newsla on Aug 29, 2014 - 07:08 AM
Support Series News
Team Pelfrey Finishes the Pro Mazda Season with a Flourish


Team Pelfrey enjoyed a strong conclusion to the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires at Sonoma Raceway in California last weekend. Brazilian hot-shoe Nicolas Costa continued his excellent sequence of results with a fourth and a hard-fought second from the two 30-minute races, while regular teammate Dalton Kellett produced one of his strongest drives of the season in Race One, and new recruit Jack Aitken fought his way impressively from 10th on the grid to fourth in a dramatic Race Two.

 

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Costa extended his streak of consecutive top-five finishes to eight since joining Team Pelfrey in time for Round Seven at Lucas Oil Raceway in May. Indeed, Costa scored considerably more points than any other driver during that period en route to fifth place in the championship points table (Photo: Accepting his trophy from Mazda Director of Motorsports John Doonan). Team Pelfrey Team Manager Nigel Tuckey also picked up an award for third place in the Team Championship during the Mazda Road to Indy banquet at the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards on Sunday evening.

“Absolutely fantastic end to the season for Team Pelfrey,” said Tuckey. “I am very proud of how every single member of the team pulled together in the second half of the season to finish very strongly with Nicolas outscoring every other driver in the series by a very large margin since coming on board. Thanks also to Dale Pelfrey for his continued support and encouragement. Our championship challenge for 2015 starts now!”

After struggling for pace during the early part of the weekend and lining up seventh (Costa), eighth (Aitken) and 12th (Kellett) on the grid for Race One on Friday, all three Team Pelfrey drivers suddenly found themselves running in nose-to-tail formation during the early stages. Kellett, in particular, posted quite a charge, rising to sixth, immediately behind Costa, by the time the caution flags waved after three laps due to an on-track incident. Costa’s constant pressure on Shelby Blackstock paid off on the final lap as the Brazilian found a way past to finish fourth. Kellett lost one position to local driver Alex Keyes but still hung on for a solid seventh. Aitken indulged in a quick spin on some fluids immediately before the caution period, but drove well to pass 2014 race winner Garett Grist as well as series regulars Jose Gutierrez (who went on to win on Saturday) and Julia Ballario to finish ninth.

Race Two was similarly fraught. Costa somehow managed to pick his way through an incident at Turn Two to emerge in third place, which later became second when Scott Hargrove’s championship aspirations expired, along with his car’s gearbox, just four laps from the finish. Aitken also dodged various bullets in the early skirmishes to emerge in fifth. He crossed the finish line in fourth after chasing Blackstock throughout the race. Kellett wasn’t as fortunate at the start but also made good progress in the race, rising from 14th to 10th at the checkered flag.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID:
Dalton Kellett (#80 Team Pelfrey/K-Line Insulators USA, Inc./Gap Guard) - Race 1, started 12th, finished seventh; Race 2, started 12th, finished 10th: “Sonoma Raceway's technical layout provided a fresh set of challenges for the team and myself. I was able to rebound in the first race, after a lackluster qualifying session, moving from 12th to sixth place in the opening laps. I think it was the most exiting race of the year for me! Starting in the same position for Race Two, I was prepared for another charge through the field. By Turn Two I was in position to make up three positions but amidst the action at the head of the field, the #7 car ended up backwards on track, directly in front of me. To prevent a collision I had to dive to the outside. The resulting trip through the dirt put me at the back of the field. Driving as hard as I could I fought back to a 10th-place finish. I have learned so much this year and want to thank the team and my sponsors K-line Insulators USA for their support.”

Jack Aitken (#81 Team Pelfrey/iZone Driver Performance) - Race 1, started eighth, finished ninth; Race 2, started 10th, finished fourth: “The start of the weekend was actually a little difficult for us as we struggled to get the car perfected and I tried to learn as much as possible for my first visit to Sonoma. Race One was pretty hectic, with an oil slick giving me the rare chance to do a 360! Our race pace was actually pretty good once we got going again and I managed to climb up to ninth, but I was still disappointed that my start hadn't been great. I had a much better run in Race Two and was really happy to be on the pace of the leading group for most of the race, despite a shifter problem. To eventually come home fourth was a nice way to end my trip. I'm really happy and thankful for the whole experience. Team Pelfrey made me feel right at home and worked hard to give me everything I needed.”

Nicolas Costa (#82 Team Pelfrey/buygapguard.com) - Race 1, started seventh, finished fourth; Race 2, started seventh, finished second: “I am very pleased with how my season with Team Pelfrey ended. We were competitive in every track, even though we didn't test at some of them. In this last weekend at Sonoma we had a big evolution. We managed to go forward every session and finished the last race on the podium. It was a great way to finish off the season. I’m very proud of what Team Pelfrey has accomplished with me – eight straight top-five finishes and nine positions gained in the championship.”


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