Already having collected a $200,000 Mazda Road to 24 scholarship for his 2017 Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires Championship, Patrick Gallagher (No. 29 McCumbee McAleer Racing) added a cool $75,000 bonus to his year by winning the Mazda MX-5 Cup Global Challenge at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday.
The Global Challenge was conducted as a two-race shootout with the aggregate finishes determining the champion. Gallagher started from third in both races. A second place finish in Race One and victory in Race Two combined to earn him the overall weekend prize of $75,000.
“Halfway through the day I began thinking that someone didn’t want us to win today,” Gallagher said. “It’s great to have CJ Wilson Mazda, ModSpace and Howard Concrete Pumping come out here on the car and win $75,000 with me and it is cool to cap off a championship win with the MX-5 Cup Challenge. I owe it all to the boys at McCumbee McAleer Racing. I don’t know just yet how I am going to spend this money. I will have a little bit of fun with it, but my goal to go racing in 2018. Working with the scholarship money and now this extra $75,000 certainly makes my 2018 season easier. Hats off to Mazda, there is no other company putting up $75,000 for a race, especially at a ladder-level series.”
A pair of podium finishes for Matt Cresci (No. 51 Slipstream Performance) put him second overall in the MX-5 Cup Challenge, a result worth $25,000. Cresci actually took the checkered flag behind Gallagher in the first race, as Gallagher hadn’t served his penalty for a track limits violation, with the penalty pushing Cresci to the win. A third-place finish in Race Two combined with the win, put Cresci runner-up to Gallagher in the overall standings.
“I think Patrick (Gallagher) did exactly what I would have done, he backed me up into (Luke) Oxner which allowed him to get around me,” Cresci said. “Then after that I was just points racing and trying to secure second without risking too much. I am very glad that we were able to pull it off.”
Luke Oxner (No. 77 White Racing) made a big comeback from Race One, where he finished fifth, to Race Two where he battled with Gallagher for the lead all the way to the final lap. A runner-up finish combined with his fifth-place result was enough to earn Oxner third place in the event standings and a $10,000 check.
“This is huge for our team,” Oxner said. “We have had speed all year, but we’ve had a lot of bad luck. It’s kind of appropriate that we ended the season with some good luck. We have had a rough time lately, our team owner just recently lost his wife to cancer. It has been tough on all of us. They have set up a scholarship fund in her honor, so a portion of this money that we won today is going to go to that.”
Finishing third in Race One, Bryan Ortiz (No. 4 Copeland Motorsports) was in the running for a big payday before some close quarters contact instigated a roll-over crash in the second race andended his weekend. Ortiz walked away from the incident in Turn 11 that brought out a red flag with six minutes left in the race. Green flag racing resumed after Ortiz’s car was cleared, setting up a three-lap dash to the finish.
For completing the most passes in both races, John Dean III (No. 16 Sick Sideways Racing) took home the BFGoodrich® Tires Driver Enough Award. Dean lined up last on both race grids because of a crash in qualifying. He takes home $5,000 for his efforts racing through the field, finishing ninth in Race One and 10th in Race Two.
“We’ve had a hard weekend with hurricane season and getting here,” said Dean, of Sebring, Florida. “Our flight wasn’t able to land here so we ended up driving in from LA. Some of the cars we brought here were from other teams so they weren’t prepped and we ended up working really late. Today the car was brilliant but we just couldn’t keep up in a straight line. We made some good passes and had some good luck on track.”
Nikko Reger (No. 01 Copeland Motorsports) was the PAGID Racing Super Pole winner on Friday, earing a $5,000 bonus. The Texan qualified on pole for both races and set a new MX-5 Cup lap record at Mazda Raceway in the process. He finished 10th in Race One and seventh in Race Two.
The Global Challenge included top MX-5 Cup racers from the U.S., Japan, and Europe.
Complete results are posted at www.MX-5Cup.com