After falling back in the pack at the start of the race, 2017 Battery Tender® Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires champion Patrick Gallagher (No. 29 McCumbee McAleer Racing) edged his friend and former roommate Robby Foley (No. 54 Hooverspeed) for the victory by all of .510-seconds on Friday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The race is part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar event weekend as Global Mazda MX-5 Cup stages the final race of the 2017 season at the spiritual home of Mazda Motorsports.
Even at just half of a second, the winning margin is large compared to most of the Mazda MX-5 Cup finishes so far this year. The win marked Gallagher’s seventh victory of the 2017 season.
“I just didn’t get the start that I wanted – it was my fault – we were loose on the first lap and I went backwards instead of forwards on that first lap, just not being patient,” said Gallagher, who will officially collect his trophy and $200,000 Mazda scholarship this weekend. “I think we were back up to fourth or fifth after a few laps and then it gets harder and harder to get by guys getting closer to the front. Robby (Foley) and I were pretty equal. I got by him and then it was a knock down drag out fight for the lead. It was great, he’s one of my best friends and was my roommate, and we still do a lot of stuff together. So it was tough, we’d be getting into each other and then giving each other the thumbs up. It was hard but a lot of fun.”
Gallagher’s teammate Robert Stout (No. 28 McCumbee McAleer Racing) edged even closer to his $50,000 target as he scored third place to grow his gap over Bryan Ortiz (No. 4 Copeland Motorsports) in the rookie of the year battle. The winner in the rookie standings will emerge with a $50,000 Mazda scholarship prize as Ortiz and Stout entered the race just seven points apart.
A back and forth battle saw Ortiz well placed in the closing stages of the race only to suffer a technical issue on the last lap of the race.
“I didn’t care if we were in 15th or if we were in fifth, I just wanted to keep Ortiz with me,” said Stout. “We are very close in speed to each other so I was hoping we would have a close battle. I was able to hold off fourth for a long time and then I saw him go out. My goal was to just stay within one position of him. I was doing the math and as long as I stayed either in front or behind, I would be close enough to hopefully seal the deal tomorrow. All year long, Ortiz has been great, he is one of the best drivers in the series. I have a lot of fun racing against him. He is aggressive and I love to race against someone who is like that.”
Making his debut in the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup post race ceremonies was Joey DaSilva (No. 07 Ives Motorsports), who scored the Battery Tender® “Hard Charger” Award after improving more positions than any other racer during the 45-minute race.
“I feel great. I am still a little shaken up right now— I couldn’t believe it!” said DaSilva of his Battery Tender® Hard Charger win. “I found out as soon as I was in the pits and I thought ‘no way!’ The race was really intense. These guys are amazing here and I don’t know how they can get around the track so fast. Hopefully I can learn something from them all as I continue my journey with the series.”
While the race weekend is the final on the regular season calendar for the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup, it is also the precursor for the big Mazda MX-5 Cup Global Challenge event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 13-15. The $110,00 two-race shootout will see the winner emerge with $75,000 in prize money, with the runner-up taking home $25,000 and third place set for $10,000.
Early race leader Foley had that big prize in mind as he joined the fray this weekend looking to prepare for the Mazda Challenge weekend.
“I was really upset to see the yellow because I had built up a pretty good lead,” said Foley, who led the opening 12 laps of the race. “Patrick (Gallagher) was better than me through Turn 4, he had a little more stable car. I kind of had a couple of opportunities to get the lead back but he covered it pretty well. We were going back and forth. It was overall a good run. We came here last minute and it is really just testing for the Challenge event here in a couple of weeks. So we will take what we learned and use it tomorrow.”