Battery Tender ® Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires ® teams travel to Mid-Ohio for fourth round of season
LEXINGTON, Ohio (24 July 2019)- With three race weekends in the books and three yet to be written, the drivers of the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires® championship still have a lot of racing to do as they take to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend. The 2.258-mile natural terrain road course will play host for two 45-minute MX-5 Cup races as the series enters the second half of the 2019 season.
The chase for three different titles is still in full force with just a few points separating the ND2, ND1 and rookie championships. $375,000 in prizes from Mazda is up for grabs, creating heated battles across the stacked 29-car field as showcased by the 1,341 passes for position that have happened in the first six races.
Leading the ND2 chase heading into Mid-Ohio is series sophomore Drake Kemper (No. 99 Sick Sideways Racing) who sits atop the leader board with 141 points – just three points over second place Selin Rollan (No. 87 Sick Sideways Racing). Kemper has a lot of work to do to keep Rollan from chipping away at his lead, especially since Kemper hasn’t visited Mid-Ohio since 2013. Rollan is also hot off a win from Road America where he took the checkered by less than half a second over Kemper. But, according to the Sick Sideways Racing driver, consistent results are what will win him his first MX-5 Cup title.
“The season is only halfway over, and a lot can change,” explained Kemper. “Consistency is the big picture for us. Leading the points doesn’t change anything for me, we’re still going to go out there with a focus on race wins. We’re focusing on race wins at every event, but I’d rather salvage third place than risk it all in a dangerous situation. Sitting atop multiple podiums thus far is just the start, we plan on keeping that momentum rolling through round 12 with again, a focus on consistency. This season has been going great.”
Then there’s 2018 championship runner-up Bryan Oritz (No. 4 Copeland Motorsports) who Kemper also has to worry about. Last season during the Mid-Ohio event, Ortiz won the finale with a breathtaking pass in the final moments of the race. That kind of close competition is once again expected this weekend as Ortiz only trails Kemper by eight points in the championship in third place and has more experience on the technical 13-turn circuit.
“I am definitely looking forward to Mid-Ohio,” said Ortiz. “It’s a track that I enjoy a lot racing at and obviously last year we came out with great results in the second race. This year the championship is very tight, nobody has had a really bad race so it’s going to be a matter of keeping our nose clean and staying up front with opportunities to keep winning. Luckily, I have great teammates and a great team behind me that will make sure we have the car to battle up front. It should be a fun race weekend for sure.”
Also fresh off a win at Road America is young rising star Robert Noaker (No. 13 Sick Sideways) who has quite the history at Mid-Ohio. Last season after climbing from 15th on the grid, the then 14-year-old Noaker set a Guinness World Record and made Mazda MX-5 Cup history as the youngest person to win an IndyCar-sanctioned race.
“I am excited to get back to Mid-Ohio with all of its technical corners and elevation changes,” said Noaker. “It’s fun going from a draft dependent track like Road America to a technical track like Mid-Ohio. Being in the Guinness Book of World records means a lot to me, and the win last year was a culmination of a lot of hard work, time and effort by me and my family.”
Adding to the competitive storyline is the rookie championship battle, which will see the winner emerge with $75,000 in support from Mazda. Leading the rookie points is 2018 Mazda Road to 24 Shootout winner Michael Carter (No. 08 Copeland Motorsports), who scored his first pole and podium finish at Barber Motorsports Park earlier this year. 19 year-old Carter won the Mazda Road to 24 Shootout along with $100,000 in support from Mazda toward his 2019 Mazda MX-5 Cup season and has finished in the top-ten in each race this season.
Extending a program that saw great engagement during the Circuit of the Americas, Barber Motorsports Park and Road America rounds, Mazda will host a live stream starting five minutes before the races on MazdaMotorsports.com for both the Saturday (11:25 AM ET) and Sunday (8:50 AM ET) rounds.
Live timing and scoring for Friday’s practices (8:00 a.m. and 1:05 p.m.) and qualifying on Saturday (8:00 a.m.) will be available at MX-5Cup.com.
The Mazda MX-5 drivers will also host an autograph session in the IndyCar Fan Zone from 2:45-3:15 p.m. ET on Saturday.