Star Mazda - Horto and Menezes Earn First Podium Finishes
Newton, June 25, 2011: J.V. Horto and Gustavo Menezes earned their first podium finishes of 2011 in tonight's Pizza Ranch 100 at Iowa Speedway. For Horto, his second place finish bettered his third place finish at the event last year, and for Menezes, his third place finish marked his first career podium. For the pair, the results were their best ones yet this season and one step closer towards achieving their maiden wins in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear.
A slight rain delay forced nearly back to back warm-up, qualifying and race sessions for the series this afternoon. Horto, who qualified fourth, wasted no time challenging for positions in the race. He was up to third position by the end of the first lap and began to follow teammate Martin Scuncio (who was then in second) on a quest for the win. Unfortunately for Scuncio, an engine failure halfway through the race ended his day, allowing Horto to instead take home the second place finish as well as his first podium of 2011.
J.V. Horto on the race: "The weekend ended up being great for us. We improved a lot from the practice sessions in qualifying, ending up fourth. It was a good spot to be in for the fighting for the lead in the race. We weren't quite fast enough to catch Sage (Karam), but second place is a great result to get back into the championship points. I'm happy to get my first podium with Juncos Racing today. I'm sure we are going to keep the momentum going from here on out. I want to thank the team for all of their efforts. I'm still looking forward to getting my first win this year!"
Sixteen-year-old Gustavo Menezes had an impressive weekend; he was consistently in the top five positions in both official practices, qualified sixth and secured his first career podium finish this afternoon after only five races worth of experience. Menezes drove an aggressive race for a rookie, challenging top competitors for positions throughout the 100-lap event. By lap nine, Menezes was able to overtake the No. 11 car of Connor De Phillippi, and with only ten laps to go, he passed the No. 5 car of points-leader Tristan Vautier for third position.