M1 Racing's Horak and Costa Seek Podium Finishes
 April 24, 2014| 
  • Team News
LEEDS, Ala. — Two M1 Racing drivers head to Barber Motorsports Park this weekend with two different frames of mind but a common goal — podium finishes in Rounds 3 and 4 of the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires.

One of them, Jay Horak of Mesa, Ariz., wants to duplicate his results in the first two races of the year when he won the series' Expert class in St. Petersburg, Fla., last month with his AutoEnginuity No. 37. Horak brought Dallas-based M1 Racing its first championship last year when he won the title for that class, which is for drivers over the age of 30.

The other M1 Racing driver, Nicolas Costa of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, wants better luck than he had in Florida. 

Costa had to stop on the track in the first race to avoid crashing into two drivers who tangled in front of him, but he still battled back to finish eighth in the IMM (Impermeabilizacões) No. 99, which is also sponsored by Alufama, Oakley and Inova Marketing Esportivo.  He got as high as sixth in the second race before his car's throttle cable broke, abruptly ending what looked for sure to be a great finish.

Although Horak and Costa have podium finishes as their primary goal this weekend, they have two other goals before that can happen. First, they have to help the team's engineers and mechanics get their cars up to speed and comfortable to drive. Second, they have to stay out of trouble. Although Barber Motorsports Park is one of the most beautiful road courses in North America, it has blind corners and it's narrow. It was designed for motorcycles, which are about a yard wide compared to about 60 inches for a Pro Mazda car, and real estate can run out quickly.

M1's drivers will have one big thing going for them that they didn't enjoy at St. Petersburg. Both of them have tested at Barber Motorsports Park in the past, but neither had competed at St. Petersburg before that race weekend.

"I think the fact that they've both seen the track before will really help," said Paul Mata, owner of M1 Racing. "Nicolas in particular usually hasn't raced on a track before the weekend of the race. Although that has forced him to learn new tracks very quickly, I think the fact that he's tested here before will allow him to push the car closer to its limits than he's been able to do at other events."

The Pro Mazda drivers will also have two test sessions tomorrow before this weekend's first official practice session is held at 8:15 a.m. local time (9:15 a.m. Eastern) on Friday. Qualifications follow at 1:15 p.m. local time on Friday. Saturday's 40-minute race is slated to start at 11 a.m. local time, with Sunday's getting the green flag at 8:50 a.m. local time.  Costa is also slated to sign autographs at the IndyCar Fan Village at the track from 11 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

The Pro Mazda series, which is part of the Mazda Road to Indy program, supports a Verizon IndyCar Series headliner Sunday afternoon. Barber Motorsports Park is one of the most picturesque courses on the schedule because the track is truly in a park-like setting, with beautiful flowers and trees and large art sculptures dotted around the grounds of the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course near Birmingham, Ala.
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