CLEARWATER, FL. (MARCH 28, 2011) – Connor De Phillippi enjoyed a perfect start to his 2011 season on Saturday, winning Round 1 of the Star Mazda Championship at the series debut in St. Petersburg, Fla. Reigning Rookie of the Year fueled by VP’s special blend of 100, De Phillippi avoided multiple incidents and overcame several hotly contested re-starts to win his second career series debut with his Florida-based team.

Racing in front of a hometown crowd, De Phillippi had one goal in mind – start the season off with a ‘W’. That was readily apparent right from the get go, as he placed his No. 11 Mazda on the timing monitors in Fridays practice session. Rolling back on-course on Saturday morning for the solo qualifying session, De Phillippi kept his Team Pelfrey car in the top qualifying position until the last lap where his teammate and one other driver had a flying lap, beating De Phillippi’s time by only .317 of a second. 

Given their performances leading up to the traditional standing start for Round One, confidence was high under the team awning and in the cockpits when the lights went out to get the racing action underway on Saturday afternoon. While De Phillippi got away cleanly from the second row, his teammate was not as fortunate, immediately becoming involved in a multi-car incident, ending his race before it had really begun.

On the ensuing lap five re-start De Phillippi got an excellent launch, passing for the lead in turn one. From that moment forward, the Californian never relinquished the top spot, despite constant pressure from second place and multiple additional restarts due to assorted incidents. De Phillippi in the end crossed the stripe two seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, giving Connor and Team Pelfrey their first win of the season!

“I was amazed at how good my car was for the race," said De Phillippi. “It was absolutely consistent throughout and never faded at all. We were hoping for a podium finish and wanted to strike a balance between being aggressive and still bringing the car home in the points. I was able to keep out of trouble in the race, and it feels great to head into Round Two at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama in two weeks leading the championship.”