Dean II Nabs Third ND-1 Class Victory
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 6, 2019) – Selin Rollan (No. 87 Sick Sideways) claimed his second consecutive Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires® victory on Saturday, crossing the Barber Motorsports Park finish line with a slim 0.3333-second advantage over Bryan Ortiz (No. 4 Copeland Motorsports).
2019 Mazda Road to 24 Scholarship winner Michael Carter made his first-ever Mazda MX-5 Cup podium appearance with his run to third place as the top four finishers were within one second of Rollan at the end of the 45-minute race.
The race saw two different four-car trains do battle from start to finish.
Rollan, Ortiz, Carter and fourth place finisher Luke Oxner fought for the overall lead, while a second battle emerged for fifth. Tyler Gonzalez, Drake Kemper, Robert Stout, Peter Ensor, Robert Noaker and Zach Lee completed the top 10 after fighting in close quarters for the duration of the race.
“He (Ortiz) is one of the best guys in this series and I was scared when I saw him behind me,” said Rollan, who won the second race of the COTA event weekend. “I have to admit that I’m mentally exhausted after that race. It was so intense so I need a rest before the next race!”
Ortiz had the quickest car on track, turning the fastest lap of the race at a 01:40.1699—a new Mazda MX-5 Cup race lap record at Barber Motorsports Park. He was unable to translate his speed into a race win.
“The race went okay, but because I was following Selin the engine was really hot,” Ortiz said. “I had the best handling car out there, I think we could have won it pretty easily because we were so much faster until we were behind somebody. We’ll see what we can do for the next race, and try again.”
Rollan has now taken over the provisional points standings with 80 points to Kemper’s 71.
Carter (No. 08 Copeland Motorsports) led the first 10 laps of the race, but his efforts to re-take the lead from Rollan ultimately cost him the runner-up spot as well.
“I made a few mistakes early on, and when Selin passed me, I got a run out of Turn Two and got side-by-side with him and that allowed Bryan to get to our inside and he got by me,” Carter said. “The rest of the race I was just trying to get back into position to move up again, but, it never happened. The car felt pretty good. Toward the end it was loose – which is a good thing, you don’t want it to be pushing – but it was pretty good. Third place and my first podium, it feels pretty good.”
Oxner’s No. 77 White Racing machine spent much of the race on his own between the two battling trains of cars. He brought it home in fourth.
Behind him, Gonzalez (No. 57 Copeland Motorsports) was fighting tooth and nail with COTA race winner Kemper and Stout for fifth. The 14-year old crossed the line 0.1093-second ahead of Kemper to take the spot and earn the Idemitsu Hard Charger Award for picking up eight positions in the race.
“I went from 13th to 5th, it was a really good race,” Gonzalez said. “Me and (Drake) Kemper were battling from lap one. Unfortunately, I had a penalty when I got into him and I had to let him by. So then I had to go back and go back and get by him again! I’m glad I was able to come out on top. It was a ton of fun.”
The ND-1 class win once again came down to a fight between Sick Sideways teammates Nathanial Sparks and John Dean II. Sparks started from the ND-1 class pole in the No. 8, but Dean eventually got the better of him in the No. 16 machine and took his third-straight ND-1 class win.
“He made a small mistake and I had a great run off the last corner,” Dean said. “I think he had a slow shift and that forced me to make a move. I had great track position. I was behind the 33 car (Alex Bachoura) and I saw Ryan Hall coming in the faster ND2 car. I let him by after I knew I was clear a bit. I didn’t want to let him by and get into a race that would slow [Sparks] and I down. Ryan got by the 33 and I just stayed tucked behind the 33, drafting. The car I had today was fantastic. It was the best handling MX-5 car I’ve ever had. The Sick Sideways guys really nailed the setup. The BFG tires held on the whole race. I’m glad we could get our third win in-a-row, especially in front of our sponsors from Harrison Contracting.”
Hernan Palermo (No. 20 Slipstream Performance) completed the ND1 podium.
It’s a tight turnaround for Mazda MX-5 Cup teams, who are already preparing for Race Two at Barber Motorsports Park. The green flag drops at 6:30pm ET with live coverage on www.mazdamotorsports.com.