JDC MotorSports Trio Impresses in Houston
 July 3, 2014| 
  • Team News
Booth scores top-five result while USF2000 driver Toppe excels in debut

HOUSTON, TEXAS 
– After surviving through a rain-dampened Saturday at the Grand Prix of Houston, the trio of Pro Mazda Championship drivers running under the JDC MotorSports tent showed their mettle on Sunday when they stormed out of the box to post three results in the top-12.  Freshman Pro Mazda driver Ryan Booth had his best finish of the year, challenging Shelby Blackstock for third all race long en route to a fourth-place finish, while the team’s regular USF2000 driver Clark Toppe impressed the paddock in his series debut with an incredible sixth.  Michael Johnson continues to show great steps in development and improved pace, as he finished 12th in the final tally to send the JDC team back to its Minnesota shop on a very high note.

Booth’s weekend got off to a strong start, as the Charlotte, N.C. pilot was in the top-10 from the get-go. This was Booth’s debut at the event, which put him behind many of the drivers who had experience on Houston’s 1.7-mile temporary circuit when both the USF2000 and Pro Mazda series were part of last year’s edition at Reliant Park. After sitting eighth following the initial practice, Booth stepped up and found a great deal of time, chopping 1.5 seconds off his pace to sit fourth after the second session.  Qualifying followed the trend in dropping time, as Ryan was a half-second quicker in the timed run, although the field turned it up as well, putting him eighth.  Saturday’s race got off to a strong start, but it would not end well when another driver made light contact with his JDC machine from the rear, damaging the engine’s oil cooler.  Once all the oil had left the engine, a failure was imminent, leaving Booth on the sidelines after just 12 laps.

On Sunday, Booth was out looking for redemption, and he found it, powering quickly into the top-five.  The expected opening lap carnage did not disappoint, and Booth narrowly escaped following significant contact in turn four when another driver aggressively dove to the apex to make it three-wide.  Booth was lucky to emerge unscathed and then went to work fighting for a podium finish.  The 21-year-old was relentless in his attack on Blackstock for third, and only the oddest of situations would prevent a planned overtaking maneuver.  Booth’s seatbelts were somehow undone, and he needed to latch them back up while on the straightaway so that he could continue.  Damage to his rear wing caused by the opening lap contact also played a role in his fourth place result.

“The weekend went very well and not so well,” detailed Booth. “In Race One, we ended up blowing a motor and had to retire, which was such a bummer because we had great pace during that crazy race. On Sunday, I had a not-so-great start and ended up tangled up with two other cars going into Turn Four. I dropped back a couple positions but quickly made them back up. I spent most of my time trying to pass my good friend Shelby (Blackstock). Just as I was setting up some attempts at a pass, my seat belt came undone. In addition to that, I was running low on fuel and my rear wing was falling off. Everything kind of happened at once. As bad as I wanted that podium, I knew fourth was a solid finish, so the team and I decided it was safe to just finish and not go for the podium. I really can't thank JDC Motorsports and my mechanic, Dave, enough for all the hard work this weekend. That blown motor didn't make life easy on them, especially in that Texas heat. Also, I’d like to send a big shoutout to Wisko Racing for the opportunity and Stefan Wilson for his help this weekend. I cannot wait till Mid-Ohio!”

With a total focus on developing his driving skills and becoming accustomed to the dynamics of the Pro Mazda race car, paraplegic driver Michael Johnson once again took at step forward in Houston by stepping up his pace.  The challenge of the wet conditions was beneficial as he and the team was also presented with a new dilemma to solve due to the rough conditions of the track.  Johnson set a good baseline out of the box during Friday practice, and he found over a second worth of time during Saturday morning’s qualifying session to put him 15th on the grid for Race #1.  The track surface at Houston was extremely bumpy, and Michael had to deal with significant vertical movement of his legs within the cockpit, enough that his left leg was actually coming into contact with the steering wheel and his hand controls.  Johnson’s JDC crew took steps to deal with the new issue, and Michael promptly went out for the opening race and drove to a strong 11th in the extremely challenging wet weather conditions.  In Race #2, he again moved forward and logged the same impressive result.

“The weekend in Houston was pretty good,” Johnson enthused. “I've learned a lot and improved my driving. The rain race was a big learning experience in regards to finding where the grip was on the track. I can't wait to come back to Houston next year!”

For Clark Toppe, the Grand Prix of Houston provided many highlights, beginning with the fact that he once again participated in his home race, as the 16-year-old lives just 30 minutes north of the Texas city.  Toppe’s primary focus for 2014 is his USF2000 program with JDC, but with the series not running at Houston this year, it provided the perfect opportunity for him to sample the Pro Mazda car. The rookie was incredibly impressive throughout the weekend as he came up to speed with the car and the track.  Toppe suffered electrical issues on Saturday and managed just eight laps, but on Sunday, he stormed from his 12th place starting position to a stunning sixth over the 30-lap distance.

“My Pro Mazda debut had some ups and downs, but I really did prove what I could do in the car,” confirmed Toppe, the youngest driver in the JDC camp. “The opening race didn’t go as planned, with some electrical issues not allowing me to finish, but race two was a huge positive. I was able to move up six spots from my starting position because of the great car that JDC Motorsports had gave me, and this allowed me to explore the limits of this car. P6 really did ‘up’ my confidence for a possible Pro Mazda season in the years to come.”

The JDC MotorSports Pro Mazda drivers will now put their focus on the next round of the series on August 2-4 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.  Toppe will get back into his USF2000 car a little earlier, participating in the Honda Indy Toronto event on July 18-20.  Additional information on JDC MotorSports can be obtained from the team’s website @ jdcmotorsport.com. For direct contact, please contact John Church @ 952-233-3075. JDC MotorSports races with associate sponsorship from RedLineOil.com and HR-Sportswear.

About JDC MotorSports:
Involved in formula car racing since its inception in 1994, JDC MotorSports has established itself as one of the leading junior open-wheel teams in North America. Initially making its mark in the F2000 class of club racing competition, JDC Motorsports was soon a team worth watching in the pro ranks. Competing in the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship, the team not only won races, but also helped develop multiple young drivers. In 2005, JDC Motorsports expanded its efforts, entering the Star Mazda Championship. Quickly becoming one of the top teams in the series, JDC captured both the driver and team titles in 2007, as well as Rookie of the Year honors, with Dane Cameron scoring a series-high three wins. In 2008, JDC Motorsports was the runner-up in the Star Mazda Championship and finished fourth in its inaugural season of F2000 Championship Series competition. The Minnesota-based team won the Star Mazda Championship title with Rookie of the Year Adam Christodoulou, and the F2000 Championship Series title with Chris Miller in 2009. The following year, JDC continued its winning ways, earning the Rookie of the Year award in the Star Mazda Championship with Connor De Philippi, and scoring a non-points win in the USF2000 National Championship. In 2011, the Minneapolis-based squad captured its third Star Mazda Championship title with Tristan Vautier, scored a win in the USF2000 National Championship, and made its Prototype Lites Championship debut, earning five podium finishes. JDC Motorsports added to its Star Mazda Championship win tally, USF2000 Championship podium total, and finished as the Prototype Lites Championship runner-up in 2012. Last year, the squad continued its run of Pro Mazda and USF2000 podium finishes, and was third in the Prototype Lites title fight.
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