MONTEREY, Calif (September 16, 2019)- The competition for the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires® championship is just as close as the on track competition as this weekend sets the stage for a new champion.
As the series heads to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the double-header season finale as part of the Grand Prix of Monterey weekend, there are six drivers that have a mathematical chance to claim the championship and the $200,000 prize on offer from Mazda.
A grand total of $375,000 in Mazda support is up for grabs, creating intense battles across the field. The event will see two of the three big season-long battles be decided, as there is $75,000 in support in play for the top finishing rookie with Michael Carter (No. 08 Copeland Motorsports) leading standings by 33 points over Gresham Wagner (No. 5 Sick Sideways Racing).
Sick Sideways racer John Dean II clinched the 2019 ND1 championship title in the penultimate round at Portland International Raceway and will look forward to seeing the $100,000 check this weekend at the awards banquet.
With the first 10 races of the season featuring more than 1,500 on track passes, the Laguna Seca weekend is likely to once again be another fiercely competitive one with so much on the line.
During the double-header on Saturday, 64 points are still on the table. Bryan Ortiz (221 points) holds an eleven point advantage over 2018 Mazda Shootout winner Selin Rollan. Robert Stout enters the weekend (197 points) in third ahead of Robert Noaker (190 points), Rookie Michael Carter (184 points) in fifth and Drake Kemper (173 points).
Having opened the year with a victory at Circuit of The Americas, Ortiz’s season has by far seen the most ups and downs of the championship contenders. That includes his big comeback event at Mid-Ohio, as well as a storming drive through the field at Portland, where he started from last in the field after a transponder issue kept him from posting a time in qualifying. But even without a yellow flag to bunch the field, he raced all the way from 25th to third to claim his fifth podium of the year.
“Heading to Laguna Seca for the championship weekend is one that I can’t wait for!” said Ortiz. “I feel that it’s going to be a great finale with Selin (Rollan), (Robert) Stout and (Robert) Noaker and that we all have the chance for the Championship and are all excellent drivers. We’ve worked very hard on being at this point and we just need to put it all together one more weekend to come out as champions.”
Rollan (No. 87 Sick Sideways) added fuel to his championship hopes with a win in Portland with a strong run from pole to checkered flag. Rollan hopes to keep that momentum going to clinch the championship after missing out last year.
“I’ve never been to WeatherTech Raceway before,” said Rollan. “I’ve been using the time between races to study the course as much as possible by practicing on the sim, watching as many YouTube videos as I can and talking to my team owner John Dean, he’s a wealth of information. I was in this situation last year, with a close championship. I know that at Laguna we have to have as few mistakes as possible if we are going to come away with the championship.”
A sixth-place finish by Stout (No. 28 McCumbee McAleer Racing) at Portland cost him dearly in the point standings, but he is determined to make up the 24-point deficit to first in the opening round at Laguna Seca on his way to claiming the ND2 championship.
“We haven’t had awful finishes, but small problems have prevented me from finishing as well as we deserved throughout the year,” said Stout. “Even with all these small issues, there’s only 1 weekend this season I haven’t stood on the podium, which shows the consistency of this team and our ability to run up front. Knowing that makes me feel incredibly confident going into the final weekend of the season. I’m continually provided a car capable of running in the top three. I’ve been racing hard with Ortiz since my first weekend with this series. He won’t make it easy to win this, but we’ve beat him before and I’m coming in as prepared as possible to try and do it again!”
After sweeping the double-header weekend at Portland and earning his ninth ND1 win of the season, Dean II (No. 16 Sick Sideways) locked up the Championship for the previous generation Mazda MX-5 Cup cars and $100,000 in support from Mazda. Even though he has secured the championship, don’t expect Dean to take it easy in the finale, his goal is to continue his nearly perfect winning season.
“It’s been an amazing year, it’s been so fun and by far my most memorable season in MX-5 Cup,” Dean II said. “Even though we clinched the ND1 championship early, I’m still going to push. Right now we are focused on Selin winning the ND2 championship for Sick Sideways to take both of the championships. We have some work to do because Bryan Ortiz is one hell of a driver and he’s not just going to give it to us.”
The season-ending event at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will open with two practices and qualifying on Friday, September 20, with the final two races of the regular championship season set for Saturday, September 21 (11:35 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Pacific)
Extending a program that saw great engagement during the Circuit of the Americas, Barber Motorsports Park, Road America and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course rounds, Mazda will host a live stream starting five minutes before the races on MazdaMotorsports.com.
Follow live timing and scoring for Friday’s practices and qualifying on Saturday on MX-5Cup.com.
The MX-5 drivers will also host an autograph session in the IndyCar Fan Zone from 2:45-3:15 p.m. PT on Friday.