16-year old continues to impress in first two open wheel starts of 2011 season
LEEDS, ALABAMA – Gustavo Menezes recorded his second straight top-ten finish Sunday, April 10 at the second round of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the Barber Motorsports Park outside Birmingham, Alabama. In only his second start in an open wheel car, Menezes piloted the TrueCar Star Mazda to a seventh place finish in the 33-lap contest.
The event began Thursday, April 7 with two practice sessions prior to the qualifying round. Menezes, having never visited the challenging 2.3-mile road course, spent the first two sessions getting comfortable in the TrueCar Star Mazda and learning his marks around the circuit. Recording the most laps of the first run, Menezes recorded the eighth quickest lap (1:22.161). After an hour break, Menezes was back behind the wheel for another 17 laps of practice, improving his quick lap (1:22.068) and keeping a consistent pace.
“Practice went really well for me in the TrueCar Star Mazda,” commented Menezes. “Since I was unable to participate in the pre-season test, we were behind everyone in regards to knowing the track. We put in a lot of laps and I grew familiar with the course very quickly.”
Following practice, Menezes suited up for the qualifying session. With the high temperatures around the Birmingham area, the track changed drastically and affected the handling of the car. While Menezes was a bit off from his practice, he still managed to post the 10th fastest lap in the session. The series was absent from any on-track sessions for Friday and Saturday, allowing Menezes and his Juncos Racing team to study the data and develop the optimal setup for Sunday afternoon’s race.
Following the morning warm-up Sunday, Menezes pulled the TrueCar Mazda into the 10th grid position to begin the 33-lap contest. Making only his second standing start in an open wheel car, Gustavo pulled off another successful holeshot and in battle for position right away. At the checkered flag, Menezes would cross the line seventh, recording a fast lap just eight-tenths off the leaders best time, further showing the progress Gustavo had made in just two races.
“The TrueCar Star Mazda was great in the morning session and early on in the race,” continued Menezes. “Once the fuel load was lighter and the tires had gone away, I had to adapt my driving style to continue the same pace. I managed to stay consistent and learned a lot during the race. The weekend was a big step in my development and seventh is a great result for only my second event. The next challenge to tackle will be making the transition to an oval track, another first for my career.”
Next on the docket for Menezes and the TrueCar Star Mazda will be the first of three ovals on the series schedule. Round three will take place at the Lucas Oil Raceway, as part of the 66th annual Night Before the 500 in Indianapolis over the Memorial Day weekend. Gustavo is able to compete at this level thanks to his many sponsors, including TrueCar.com, Clearbook.com, Safety Park, Oakley, Performance Physixx, Fitness Concepts, and CXC Simulations. Additional information on Gustavo Menezes can be obtained from his personal website, www.gustavomenezes.com or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/gustavom28
About Gustavo Menezes:
At just 16 years-of-age, Santa Monica, California’s Gustavo Menezes is considered one of the most promising young race driver in America. Gustavo began racing in karts at the age of six, earning multiple championships, both at the regional and national level. In 2009 and 2010, Menezes contested an international schedule that included the WSK International Series and various major events in Europe and the United States, running for Italian karting manufacturer Tony Kart in the KF3 and KF2 categories. For 2011, Menezes will move up the motorsports ladder and campaign his rookie season in the Star Mazda Championship with Juncos Racing. Gustavo’s ultimate goal is to one day become a driver in the IndyCar Series and win the Indianapolis 500.