Elkhart Lake, Wisc. (23 June 2017) – During a radio interview earlier in the day, Patrick Gallagher predicted that it would take a last lap pass to take the Idemitsu MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires victory this weekend at Road America.
It turned out that he was the one making that pass when he won a drag race to the finish line and edged Bryan Ortiz (No. 4 CMS Motorsports/Bella Racing) by 0.0263-seconds to score his fourth win of the 2017 season.
Dean Copeland (No. 18 CMS Motorsports) , who had been hooked up in the draft with his Copeland Motorsports teammate Ortiz in the final laps of the race, came home in third place and earned the Idemitsu “Hard Charger” Award after having started from 17th on the grid.
2009 Series champion Todd Lamb (No. 84 McDonalds/Winding Road Racing) came home in fourth, with 2016 MX-5 Cup champion Nathanial “Sparky” Sparks (No. 8 Mazda Road to 24) finishing fifth ahead of Hernan Palermo (No. 20 GHEC/ SP Racing).
Mark Drennan (No. 5 Winding Road Racing / TFB Performance) scored seventh ahead of Ashton Harrison (No. 3 Harrison Contracting/Racing Analytics) with Matt Cresci (No. 51 Mazda Road to 24 Scholarship) and Alex Bachoura (No. 33 Cypress Oral Surgery) completing the top ten.
The 40-minute race provided another thrilling round of MX-5 Cup action. Slowed by just one caution period midway through the event, the Road America round featured five different race leaders as the top seven drivers finished within two seconds of the race winner. The caution was a result of contact between Ara Malkhassian (No. 11 ALARA Racing) and Robert Stout (No. 28 Lucas Oil Products / Lucas Oil Racing TV) battling for the lead. Both cars retired from the race, but neither drive was injured.
Ortiz took the lead on the ninth lap, and held the point past the white flag. But after the drafting action separated from his Copeland Motorsports teammate Copeland, Gallagher pounced on the final lap to position himself for a sprint to the stripe, crossing just a few feet ahead as Gallagher increased his championship points advantage.
“The Copeland Motorsports guys ran me clean, we worked together and that’s why we’re all on the podium,” said Gallagher, who only led the final 6 feet of the race. “I knew I was well ahead of Sparky (second place in the championship) so I was fine with finishing second and getting good championship points, but then I had a run up the hill. Then once I got into the side draft I was able to veer off to the left and just picked up about two miles per hour and shot across the line. This ModSpace / Howard Concrete Pumping car is fast and the McCumbee McAleer guys have it hooked up. Big hats off to Mazda, Idemitsu and BFGoodrich for making it such a great series.”
“I knew it was a long straight,” said Ortiz, who takes the rookie points lead as he targets the $50,000 prize from Mazda. “The car was great, my teammate (Dean Copeland) helped me a lot and he did an awesome job as well. I really thought I could hold him off (Patrick Gallagher), but he passed me. I’m very happy. But when you’re so close, second is not good. Those were my first laps in the dry at this track so I was practicing during the race and getting more comfortable. I still have a couple of things to learn from my teammate – I think he was faster than I was. But I’m happy, we got the lead in the rookie points again so that’s good. It was a good points day. We’ll make some changes and hopefully tomorrow is better.”
Copeland, who raced in the season-opening race at Barber and then stepped out of the car in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway round to focus on coaching his teammates, was right on the pace in his return to the cockpit as he made a massive improvement from 17th on the grid to come home third at the finish.
“After a very disappointing qualifying effort yesterday, we were really dejected,” admitted Copeland, who posted the fastest lap of the race with a 2:37.5332 flyer. “But this is my favorite track and I knew if it was dry and if we could get a clean run that we would march right up to the front. I’m not at all surprised that we’re standing up here (on the podium) with both of our cars. It was just a matter of getting here. I’m really let down for my teammate Bryan Ortiz – I really thought he had the win coming. Tomorrow will be a different ball game!”
The drivers in the Idemitsu MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires will continue to compete for the $200,000 championship award in Round 6 of the 2017 season on Saturday at 10:05 AM CT, with live streaming set to once again be hosted at www.facebook.com/mazda.
Full results can be found here: http://mx-5cup.com/results