TRAFFORD, PA (August 13, 2007) – With a trio of stout entries for the Star Mazda race at Road America, the John Walko Racing crew headed in to the eighth race of the season with a lot of confidence.
Early indications were promising as newcomer Steve Welk topped the charts early and JWR stalwarts Russell Walker and Charles Anti flirted with the top ten in practice early and often. Welk's success from the very start turned heads in the paddock but was not a huge surprise to John Walko.
"I've known Steve a long time and to be honest he went out and did exactly what I thought he was capable of in this series, which is run up front. He has the benefit of knowing Road America intimately with it being his home track but to be up front the very first time in a brand new car and staying there for the whole event was impressive."
Welk's impressive run continued in qualifying as the Wisconsin native stayed atop the leader board until the very end of qualifying. Unfortunately he had an off that resulted in a red flag and the loss of his fast lap as per Star Mazda rules.
"One small mistake cost Steve his fast lap but he still started in the top ten. We made some adjustments to the car before the race and he quickly moved up to the top five. He was on his way to a solid finish for his first time in the car but ended up on the wrong end of an incident that took him out of the race."
Anti showed flashes of speed all weekend long as well, never dipping far from the top ten in practice, qualifying or the race.
"Charles had the speed this weekend and really came to the track focused and ready to race. He was on a very fast lap in qualifying, probably one that would have put him in the top five to start the race, but made a mistake on the final turn dropping him to eleventh."
At the end of the day Anti came home with the top finish for JWR, placing eleventh. The results did not reflect where he had been running much of the race however.
"A top five was certainly within reach for Charles as he was running right in the mix with the lead pack. Another very small mistake cost him a great finish though as he bent a front wing after making contact with another car by just barely an inch. After that he did a great job just holding on to the car and reaching the end."
For Russell Walker the weekend seemed to be coming to him, placing in the top three in the final practice followed up with a seventh quick qualifying time.
"Russell had another strong run going at Road America. He was fast in practice and was solidly in to the top ten in qualifying as well. Each race it seems that he puts another piece of the puzzle together and inches closer to the front. Unfortunately it wasn't to be at Road America as he ended up off track, losing two laps in the process."
"Overall it was a strong showing in terms of speed but a few small mistakes kept it from being a completely successful race weekend. Hopefully we can turn that speed in to results as we head in to the last stretch of races. This crew never stops working so I'm confident that breakthrough race is coming soon."
Drivers wishing to join JWR for upcoming tests or races should contact John Walko Racing as soon as possible.
Steve Dreizler, Engineer for Charles Anti
"Charles had a good lap going in qualifying and missed just one corner, otherwise he was on his way to a top five. He came to the track ready and put in a good effort this weekend. Certainly in the race there was a big improvement in terms of starts and restarts and he was very aggressive in terms of gaining positions. It was a good effort in the race as well but just one mistake that cost him a front wing probably kept him out of the top five. The cars are quick and the drivers are quick, were just waiting for it to all come together at the same time."
"We didn't get much practice in between the rain and the damp conditions but we still ended the day in 11th. In qualifying we had a great lap going but made one small mistake on the final turn of my best lap and ended up 11th again. The race was pretty much the same way, it was a really good race and a lot of fun but I tagged someone with my wing and it bent up leaving me with no downforce for the rest of the race. I was fifth at the time and ended up 11th again. Both sessions showed how one very small mistake can effect an otherwise great weekend."
John Walko, Engineer for Steve Welk
"Steve was great to work with this weekend. He has a no-nonsense approach to his job and proved he knows his way around the race track in a formula car. His maturity showed in the way he was instantly able to integrate himself with the team. Whether it was listening and taking advice from others on the team or providing good feedback and input himself, he fit very well in to our team approach. Hopefully we'll get to work with him again in the near future."
"Overall I was thrilled with how the weekend went; we were fast every session and quick in the race. I probably had an easy top ten car and could have had a top five up until the incident. I was enjoying the heck out of it. I was really impressed with the team; I can't thank everyone enough from John to Kate to Russell my mechanic and everyone else. They were really an awesome group to be around and run with. I've worked with other teams before but everyone here was so focused and the team was gelled - overall we were still having fun but we were getting the job done as well."
Eric Langbein, Engineer for Russell Walker
"All this season we've been working on putting tools in Russell's tool box, now the next step for him is to learn when to use them all. He has the skills, he has the moves in his arsenal, now the next step is to learn when to use them to put together an entire race and eventually an entire Championship. At Road America just one ill- timed moved probably cost him the race and I don't see that happening again moving forward as he continues to improve. We look forward to the Canadian races now as we always run well there."
"Everything was working our way at Road America but we just didn't get the final results to show how good of a car we had. In the final practice we were third quickest and then qualified seventh. Unfortunately a mistake in the race left me stranded off track and by the time I was going again I was two laps down. Scott and Eric gave me a great car once again and we were up front where we know we should be. That race where everything comes together is coming very soon."
Road America Results:
1 Ron White
2 Dane Cameron
3 Nick Haye
11 Charles Anti
21 Russell Walker
23 Steve Welk
Drivers interested in joining JWR for upcoming tests are encouraged to contact the team soon. Also, drivers interested in discussing their 2007 racing programs should contact John Walko Racing at firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Welk Joins the Walko Stable for Road AmericaTesting and More Keeps Team Busy During Star Mazda Break
TRAFFORD, PA (July 30, 2007) – John Walko Racing will add a third car for their assault on th Road America when the Star Mazda Series returns to the storied venue on August 11 . Steve Welk will join Charles Anti and Russell Walker for his first Star Mazda race.
Team owner John Walko has a long history with Welk however and is confident his newest driver will be able to deliver on short notice.
"I've know Steve since we raced in the Zetec Series and I was impressed with him back then. He has a solid background from Karting Championships to Formula Ford. That is his home track, he lives there actually, and he has a lot of local support. We'd love to have it grow in to a bigger program for Steve but I'm excited to have him for Road America at least."
Walko has good reason to be excited about Welk's prospects at Road America. The Wisconsin native competed at Road America in the Formula Ford Cooper Tires Championship Series in 2006 and scored second and third place finishes in the two races. Impressive results for any weekend but more impressive in light of the fact that it was the only open wheel races Welk ran in 2006.
Welk will also enter the race with the benefit of a day of testing in a variety of conditions as Walko noted.
"Steve tested very well at BeaveRun. We were able to get him a significant amount of seat time in wet, dry and drying conditions and he ran competitive times throughout the day."
The test not only served to acquaint Welk to the Star Mazda machine but also enabled him to get comfortable with the JWR crew.
"I thought the team and everything worked tremendously well. I've wanted to work with John for a few years now after running with him in Zetec so it was really cool to be able to do the test. I felt I had a good balance with the car and I think a good base of information with the car going in to Road America."
Welk brings more than just talent to the table when it comes to Road America however as he has countless laps on the 4.048 mile, 14 turn course.
"Going to Road America I think I have a lot of good information on the track since I spent so much time there. I know John will put a good car underneath me so I'm pretty excited. I'm looking for a top five and we're perfectly capable of doing that despite the tough field in Star Mazda right now. John's team is a lot of fun to work with and I'm really excited about running with them there, I can't wait!"
While the Star Mazda Championship Series has not raced since the July 7th round at Toronto, the JWR team has not had any problems finding ways to stay busy.
Testing has continued with JWR's duo of regular drivers. Russell Walker visits Road Atlanta in preparation for the upcoming race there on October 5th while Charles Anti has been in the car several times at BeaveRun Motorsports Complex.
Anti's tests have also given the team the chance to further develop Kate Gundlach's engineering talents. Gundlach, the team's data acquisition specialist, is being groomed as the team's third engineer according to Walko.
"We have been using these tests to get Kate more experience turning the knobs on the car as well, doing some more engineering. She'll be our third engineer; that has always been the plan for her. It's been interesting as Kate has been learning how the car works from the data end first while the rest of started life as mechanics. She is coming at it from a different perspective which should be a benefit to the whole team in the long run."
Gundlach continues to take advantage of all of her opportunities including recently participating in the fifth annual Women in the Winner's Circle program hosted by Lyn St. James. The event honoring women in motorsports took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Brickyard 400 festivities.
The team has also taken part in several corporate events and driving programs at BeaveRun Motorsports Complex. Participants are able to see exactly how the team operates by interacting with the mechanics and the drivers as well as having the chance to see and analyze data and video with the engineers. Many have also been fortunate enough to leave with the once in a lifetime opportunity to climb behind the wheel of one of the Star Mazda machines.
While these types of programs may not yield on track performance gains they are instrumental in demonstrating the team's ability to excel in other areas besides the racetrack, a critical element to operating a successful race team in the current motorsports marketplace.
Drivers interested in joining JWR for upcoming tests are encouraged to contact the team soon. Also, drivers interested in discussing the remaining 2007 races or a 2008 racing program should contact John Walko Racing at email@example.com
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