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Hearn Motorsports Hopes to Double Its Pleasure at Infineon
Submitted by Dan Mazzella on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 7:11am

Hearn Motorsports comes to the "Wine Country" of Sonoma, California on a tide they hope to carry to the team's first victory in the Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear. If the number two is a good omen, the team is confident that they can double their pleasure at the 2.53-mile, 12-turn Infineon Raceway this weekend. The Grand Prix of Sonoma is a double race weekend for Star Mazda and marks the second time the Las Vegas-based team has raced at the track since owner and IndyCar racer Richie Hearn (Henderson, Nev.) started the organization last season. Two drivers will pilot the Hearn Motorsports entries for the first time since the Series' third race of the season. Brian Thienes (Huntington Beach, Calif.), driving the No. 77 Thienes Engineering/ Hearn Motorsports Star Mazda, is in his second season with the team. He will be joined for the second time by Alan Sciuto (Orange, Calif.). Sciuto will be driving in his second Star Mazda event behind the wheel of the No. 70 Hearn Motorsports Mazda. The race also marks the first of two events that will be held in the Golden State. Infineon Raceway will be the first, and only, event of the season in which the Star Mazda competitors will run two, full 45-minute races instead of their customary single show.

The Hearn Motorsports team is fresh off a top-five performance at Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR). There, the team directed last minute replacement driver Michael Potekhen (Silverthorne, Col.) in a drive from last to fifth in the 75-mile event on the Series' only oval. With seven races spread over the course of six more race weekends, the Darrell Soppe-engineered operation arrives at Infineon Raceway with a bright outlook for the remainder of the season.

Sciuto made his Star Mazda debut at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in May. He qualified 16th in one of his first efforts behind the wheel of a race car and brought it home on the lead lap in 17th-place. Now more comfortable with a car double the size of the kart he is has traditionally raced, Sciuto is expected to give a strong performance for the team. Thienes, who qualified second at PPIR before the run was disallowed for not proceeding directly to technical inspection, is in his third season of Star Mazda and his second with Hearn.

The first race of the weekend will come at 11:50 AM (PDT) on Saturday, July 16th following qualifying at 8 AM earlier that day. The second 45-minute show will run following the American Le Mans Series headline event on Sunday, July 17th. The green flag will drop at 3:55 PM. Television coverage of the events can be found on SPEED Channel with Round 1 scheduled to air at 2 PM (EDT) on August 7th. Round 2 will be shown at 1 PM (EDT) a week later on August 14th. Testing and practice start on Thursday, July 14th and continue through Friday.

Richie Hearn, owner: (about the Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend): "We're looking forward to carrying the momentum from Colorado to Infineon. Having Alan back with the team will help that, I think. Brian had a great run in qualifying at Pikes Peak. He's looking forward to getting back in the [number] 77 to see if he can't continue the strong run he had on the oval. We had our pressures at Pikes Peak but that prepared us well for this weekend, I hope."

(about the double race weekend): "I guess the good part is, if you get it right from the start you have a great chance to carry a good setup and a good result through the weekend. You could get two race results to show for it instead of just one. But, that can also backfire because if you get the monkey on your back mentally, you're here for two races instead of being able to move on after one. From an organization side, we have to prepare two racecars for practice, qualifying and two races. That's basically four races the team is preparing for. That is pretty tough when you think about it."

(about the rigors of the schedule): "This double weekend is in the middle of a pretty tight schedule. It isn't NASCAR but it's pretty tough when you are racing the same cars every event. We have already been in Montreal and at Pikes Peak since May. We have to be in Portland in two weeks and then all the way over at Road America a few weeks after that. Then we'll be back in Canada. It is real grind on guys and on equipment. That should give us an edge though. We have a great record with the cars we prepare and that preparation is what will make the difference in the next couple of months. You do it right the first time and it is easier to maintain. Teams that aren't ready, teams that aren't thinking ahead, will get eaten alive by the schedule. We're kind of looking forward to it."

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