JDC MotorSports Pro Mazda Pilots Challenged in Birmingham
 May 1, 2015| 
  • Team News
Mixed results for veterans while Nicklin posts personal best results of rookie season

BIRMINGHAM, AL – The schedule for this year’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires is certainly front-loaded, with five events being held over a seven-week span.  This action-packed period provided extensive training and track time for these drivers, and JDC MotorSports’ trio of racers have enjoyed both highs and lows during the opening events of this run. Kyle Connery, Raoul Owens and Parker Nicklin have each put in extremely positive performances and they will draw on the motivation from those successes as they leave last weekend’s race at Barber Motorsports Park to re-focus on the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in just over a week.  In Birmingham, Owens posted the best result with a sixth in Race 1, which was the result of a tremendous start that advanced him through the field.  Connery fought hard in Race 2 to finish a team-best ninth, while the rookie Nicklin recorded his two best finishes of the year in 11th and 12th.

The series provided two test sessions on the Thursday before the weekend, ahead of practice and qualifying on Friday.  The JDC MotorSports crew set about dialing in their set-ups, while both Connery and Nicklin got themselves accustomed to the Barber layout, as neither driver ran on the track during the pre-season Cooper Tires Winterfest series events in February. Owens did compete in the Winterfest event and was primed and ready, while Connery had run at Barber in 2014. For Nicklin, it was another brand new experience, as they all will be for this young series freshman.

In qualifying, the team continued to focus on improving the balance of their cars, as Connery and Owens were separated by just 0.011 seconds in 12th and 13th.  Both drivers have run in the top-10 all year thus far, so they were not pleased with those results and would go looking for advancement in the opening race on Saturday. Nicklin turned one of his best laps of the weekend to sit 15th after qualifying, continuing his advancement of his steep learning curve.

In the opening race, Owens got a monster start on cold tires and expertly knifed his way up to sixth.  He was then embroiled in a hard-fought battle to maintain the position, which he was able to do to record yet another top-10 finish. Connery’s day ended before it could begin as a fuel pick-up issue put him behind the wall, while Nicklin again logged maximum track time and turned solid lap times as he came home with a season-best 11th place finish.

The second race of the weekend was a little chaotic, as both Owens and Nicklin were unceremoniously pinched off the track on the exit of the Turn Five hairpin in separate incidents with Weiron Tan, who had been demoted to the tail of the field by the race officials after he sent his fellow front row starter off the track at the green flag. After his #19 entry failed to start on the grid, Owens was forced to start from the pit lane on new tires, which needed time to come up to temperature. While he was able to continue essentially unscathed from the off-track excursion, he would finish 17th. Nicklin’s front wing assembly was damaged during his run-in with Tan, and despite a poor-handling race car, he brought his #26 Just Let It Ring JDC Pro Mazda home in 12th for his second top-12 finish of the weekend.

Connery’s second race was less chaotic than that of his teammate, as he was embroiled in a solid battle with Cape Motorsports’ Daniel Burkett for position just inside the top-10.  Kyle came out on top of this fight and finished a solid ninth to cap his Barber experience on a high note.  

The entire JDC MotorSports crew will now look to change their fortune at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 7-9.  The month of May presents two exciting challenges for the JDC pilots as they will head onto the 5/8-mile banked oval at Lucas Oil Raceway during the Indianapolis 500 weekend, running the traditional oval race on the Saturday before the 500.

JDC MotorSports races with associate sponsorship from RedLineOil.com, HR Sportswear and Showdown Displays.

JDC MOTORSPORTS – PRO MAZDA DRIVER STATS AND QUOTES

Kyle Connery - #91

Qualified: 12th - 1:22.350 (+1.138 secs)

Race #1: 11th

Race #2: 9th

Driver Quote: “Barber was yet another character building weekend for the #91 squad. In practice, we showed reasonable pace and felt we had a car capable for the third row of the grid. However, in qualifying, we had an issue with debris and ended up in the gravel causing a red; and consequently, we lost our fast lap. There was a problem that didn't show until qualifying, however, which was frustrating to say the least. Race 1 was not off to a flying start when a fuel pickup issue didn't allow us to complete the first lap, which put us behind going into race 2. But, my guys fought hard on Sunday and we managed to stay out of trouble. I had a good, clean fight with Daniel (Burkett), which was the highlight of the weekend for sure. Going into Indy, we are going to focus more on qualifying runs to help our chances. Right now, it's the chink in our armor. It's simple; the only way to have a solid weekend is to start in the top-six. All we can do is keep fighting, and preparing the best we possible can. Look for the #91 JDC, Hi-Tide Boat Lifts, Connery Concrete machine to be in the better half of the field.”

Raoul Owens - #19

Qualified: 13th - 1:22.362 (+1.149 secs)

Race #1: 6th

Race #2: 17th

Driver Quote: “This weekend at Barber was certainly an interesting one. Throughout practice and qualifying, we never really found a good balance with the car, which made things difficult, as we weren't sure what to do or which direction to go. Race 1 proved to be better than expected. I managed to make a good start and pass seven cars on the first lap, which put me in a reasonable sixth place. It was challenging holding off four cars for the rest of the race, but I managed to pull it off, which gave myself and the team a boost from the disappointing qualifying. Race 2 didn't quite have the same outcome however, as the car wouldn’t start on the grid and we were forced to start from pit lane on a fresh set of new tires. My first lap of the race was spent getting everything warmed up, most importantly the tires. I managed to make up a few places before the first of three safety cars came out on track. I did have a slight battle with Weiron Tan before he forced me off the track, which seemed a little unfair in my opinion considering the fact I was alongside him. The rest of the race was spent under caution, so my options were limited and I ended 11th after starting from last. The weekend overall was a reality check for myself and the team. We are pushing that extra mile for the upcoming race at Indianapolis and striving for our first podium and win of the season. We know this is possible, but it will take a lot of hard work, focus and determination.”

Parker Nicklin - #26

Qualified: 15th – 1:23.234 (+2.022 secs)

Race #1: 11th

Race #2: 12th

Driver Quote: “Sunday’s Barber race started off great! It helped that we were starting two spots ahead of where we did Saturday. I was able to take advantage of some early chaos to move up to 10th position. An early caution for debris brought the drivers back together, and luckily I nailed the restart. Next thing I knew, I got a huge hip-check off the road exiting Turn Five. The wet grass grabbed the splitter and bent it under the car, giving us a huge understeer to deal with for the duration of the race. Still, I kept my nose clean and brought it home in one piece for a 12th place finish.We did everything we could and I am very pleased with my progress this weekend."

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