De Phillippi Does It Again

Connor DePhillipi won Saturday's Star Mazda event at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Connor DePhillipi won Saturday's Star Mazda event at Lucas Oil Raceway.

INDIANAPOLIS — On Carburetion Day at the Indy 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.”

Indeed. And leading the charge are three of the top young American open wheel racers on the Mazda Road to Indy. In Saturday’s fifth round 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 2nd was last year’s Star Mazda Rookie of the Year, and winner of two of the three oval races on the schedule, Sage Karam in the No. 88 Andretti Autosport / Comfort Revolution Mazda.

And claiming the final spot on the podium was one of the youngest drivers in the field, Zach Veach driver of the No. 77 Andretti Autosport / / Zakoski Data Backup Mazda. Each finished where they qualified… which says little about how fast and competitive this race actually was.

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…. but still leaves him second in the points championship, albeit only by 12 points, behind Jack Hawksworth, who has also win two races and finished 8th tonight. Karam has now scored his second second-place finish of the season, benefiting from the points shuffle as he moves up from seventh to sixth and is headed next to Iowa Speedway, where he won last year.

“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,” said the thoughtful winner. “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 and Petri Suvanto.