LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 28, 2005) – Todd Buras, of Melbourne, Fla., finished the SCCA Pro Racing Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Presented by Hankook Atlantic Tour season right where he started it, on top of the podium, as he won the season finale at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, part of the EMCO Gears Classic Weekend. Jim Daniels, of Germantown, Tenn., finished second and Tom Long, of Raleigh, N.C., finished third to clinch the season Championship.
Driving the No. 56 Krispy Kreme Doughnuts/BSI Racing 1994 Miata, Buras started sixth, but quickly moved into the top three and passed Daniels’ leading No. 47 specmiata.com 1990 Miata for the first time on lap 11 of the 16-lap contest. Lapped traffic helped Buras out to an eight car-length lead, but he slid wide in turn 11 on lap 14, brushing the wall before returning to the track behind Daniels.
Not to be denied, Buras fought back to pass Daniels on the final lap at the end of the back straight to capture his third win of the season by 0.263-second and first since sweeping the season-opening doubleheader at Road Atlanta.
“My crew said ‘two laps to go’ and I let my guard down for one second and the back end slipped out and I went off,” Buras said of his lap-14 incident. “I saw that I was running out of room and it was muddy. I gave one last turn of the wheel, the back-end kicked, it caught the wall and straightened the car out. Tom [Long] gave me another three feet of room when I slid back on, dropping two wheels to the right.
“Jim’s [Daniels] car seemed to fall off. He might have been losing the rear end and I caught him at the end of the back straight. My car was perfect from the word go. We worked on setup from the first moment we got here. The car was just perfect!”
Daniels started second to Elivan Goulart and took the lead on the second lap, leading the most laps in the race. However, he admitted Buras had the better mount today.
“It was close,” Daniels said. “The rears just gave up on me at the end. In the right handers I was losing the back end and Todd’s setup seemed to come to him really well. Todd went off and it put us at least five or 10 seconds ahead so I kind of sloughed with the tires being loose and it being the white flag lap and damned if he didn’t come back and get me on the last lap.”
Long started seventh in his No. 16 Race Sports/Race Engineer 1990 Miata and was tied with defending Champion Payton Wilson for the Championship lead. Knowing whoever finished ahead would likely take the Championship, Long moved up early and solidified his position in the top three by lap three. The new Champion had some anxious moments, first when Buras went off and re-entered the track right alongside and second when polesitter Goulart made a late run at the podium.
Long’s third-place finish was enough to top Buras for the title by three points (217-214). It is Long’s first professional racing title.
“It feels incredible,” Long said after the race. “Last year, we were third and I just couldn’t be happier right now. We came into the race 18 points down and we did what we had to do. Today’s race just took forever! Todd was up there in the front and we knew he only was nine points behind us coming into the race today. It was a close one. I’m just ecstatic that we got it done this year.”
Goulart came home a close fourth in his Dolphin Motorsports/Red Line Oil 1994 Miata, followed by Jason Saini’s Motorsports-Exchange.com/Hawk 1992 Miata.
Wilson, who entered the weekend with an 18-point lead, finished seventh, behind Chris Puskar, coming up six points shy of his second-consecutive Atlantic Tour Championship. Daniels was fourth in the final Championship standings, with 180, followed by Saini, with 171.
James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., started 31st and finished 17th in his No. 4 GMG/Greek Brother Racing/Motorsport-Exchange.com 1990 Miata to earn the Sunoco Hard Charger award.
While the Atlantic Tour wrapped up today, there is one more race on the Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Presented by Hankook schedule, the North American Championship event, where the Atlantic Tour meets the Pacific Tour, is scheduled for Oct. 7 at Road Atlanta, part of the Petit Le Mans week.
Link to story: http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=403