Derani Claims Another Podium for Team Pelfrey in Cooper Tires Winterfest
 February 27, 2014| 
  • Team News

LEEDS, ALA. – Team Pelfrey encountered plenty of positives as the Cooper Tires Winterfest for Pro Mazda concluded with a pair of races over the past two days at the challenging Barber Motorsports Park.

Pipo Derani added another podium finish on Tuesday to the one he earned at NOLA Motorsports Park last Saturday, and completed the four-race mini-series fifth in the standings, just a point shy of one of the pre-season favorites, Shelby Blackstock. Dalton Kellett wound up ninth after adding two more top-10 finishes, while Team Pelfrey newcomer Brandon Newey also impressed in claiming a pair of top-10 finishes on his Pro Mazda debut.

Round 3 on Tuesday saw Derani make yet another fine start, vaulting from sixth on the grid to third which he maintained until the end. Newey drove well to rise from 12th on the 16-car grid to ninth, while Kellett jumped from 10th to eighth in the early stages before slipping to 10th at the finish.

Derani repeated his opening lap heroics in Wednesday’s final round, and continued in third until being assessed a drive-through penalty following an incident with Blackstock with just four laps remaining. The resulting pit stop relegated him to 11th. Newey continued to pick up speed en route to eighth as Kellett struggled in the late stages and had to be content with another 10th-place result.

The team will now regroup and continue preparations for the first two races of the “regular season” Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires which will take place on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 29/30, just a few miles from Team Pelfrey’s new headquarters in Palmetto.

Pipo Derani (#81 Team Pelfrey/Alan Lewis Consulting) – Race 1: started sixth, finished third; Race 2: started sixth, finished 11th:
“The Winterfest in general has been a bit crazy for us because we’ve been trying different things with the car and the car has not been responding the way we want. So it’s been a bit frustrating. I didn’t have the best car, that’s for sure, but the good news is we’ve had a couple of podium finishes and I made the maximum spots I could on the first lap of each race. In the final race I was taking my line and (Blackstock) was the one who chose the outside on a high-speed corner and he was the one who made the mistake of going off; I didn’t push him out.”

Brandon Newey (#20 Team Pelfrey) – Race 1: started 12th, finished ninth; Race 2: started 10th, finished eighth: “It was good to learn the car and the track for the regular season race coming up here (on April 26/27). The whole week steadily I was getting faster and faster and learning a lot with the car, and my times were competitive with my teammates so I’m happy with that. I think we have a good direction to go moving forward with the team and I’m really just looking forward to learning more about the car and working with Team Pelfrey.”

Dalton Kellett (#80 Pelfrey Performance/K-Line Insulators USA, Inc.) – Race 1: started 10th, finished 10th; Race 2: started 12th, finished 10th: “Overall, Winterfest has been a learning experience. That’s what it’s for. Essentially it’s an extended test period with some races, and I’m trying not to take too much stock in the actual results. Obviously, it would have been nice to end up a little bit higher on the score sheet but I think we’ve learned quite a bit, so that’s definitely positive. Either way, I’m definitely looking forward to doing some more testing and then getting on to the actual season.”

Dale Pelfrey’s race team, based in the St. Petersburg, Fla., area, is built upon the same principles he used 35 years ago when establishing his business career – hire the best, acquire the best and expect the best in order to achieve the most. After fielding cars in the IndyCar Series from 1998 until 2000, Team Pelfrey was reformed in 2011, winning on its Pro Mazda debut and going on to earn the Team Championship as well as second and third in the drivers’ title-chase with Connor De Phillippi and Nick Andries. Team Pelfrey went one better in 2012, guiding Jack Hawksworth to the Drivers’ Championship and earning a second successive Team Championship.

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