Ernie Francis Jr. has a shot at the Touring Car A title in his MX-5.
The Pirelli World Challenge concludes its 25th anniversary season with a return to Miller Motorsports Park, where five of the six championships are set to be decided. One Mazda driver has an outside shot at claiming the title in his class.
Thanks to sweeping the Brainerd International Raceway rounds in Touring Car A, Ernie Francis Jr. put himself back into title contention. He’ll need another perfect weekend in the No. 98 Breathless Performance Mazda MX-5 at Miller to make it happen, though.
“This championship battle has really closed up after the last two wins at Brainerd,” Francis Jr. says. “To try to win the championship this year, I think we need to get a pole, try to lead every lap and win the race just like at Brainerd. That’s what we need to take this Pirelli World Challenge TCA championship title home.”
Francis Jr. is 75 points behind class points leader Jason Wolfe and 39 points behind Shea Holbrooke in second, but if he can have another great weekend, he could wrest the title away from the two who have fought for it all year. And while Miller Motorsports Park has one of the longest, fastest tracks in the country, it won’t be used for the two Touring Car races. Instead, the TC classes will use the shorter, twistier West Course as their arena, which may fall right into Francis Jr.’s hands.
“I believe the tight, twisting West Course at Miller will suit the MX-5 pretty well. There aren’t very long straights, so the other cars shouldn’t be able to pull too much ahead. I think we have the car to beat this weekend,” he says.
The first race will be Friday at 3:10 MST, with the second race 18 hours later on Saturday at 9:10. Both will be 40-minute timed races.