MONTEREY, Calif. (May 5, 2006) – Todd Buras, of Melbourne, Fla., turned the fast practice time of the day at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, running a 1:44.221 (77.305 mph) during the morning practice session in advance of Sunday’s inaugural SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Hankook race. Jason Saini, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Chip Herr, of Litiz, Pa., were second and third, respectively.-30-
After a field of 21 Mazda MX-5s took to the track for the first time Friday morning, which marked the official beginning of the brand new series, Buras lurked for most of the morning session before taking over the top spot in his No. 56 BSI Racing/Krispy Kreme Mazda MX-5
While it wasn’t surprising that the Spec Miata veteran wound up at the top, the fact that most of the session had passed before he did, was. Following the afternoon session, where he was fifth, Buras said the ideal portion of the session on the Hankook Ventus tires was earlier rather than later.
“We’re happier running the cars on fresher tires,” Buras said. “The morning or afternoon didn’t seem to matter too much. Really, it’s the first or second cycle on the tires where the car is pristine.
“We worked hard on the cars during the test days that we had,” Buras continued. “We did a lot of testing at a track near Atlanta, Ga., and had heard some rumors about what some of the other teams were running. So, it was a surprise to come in and hear after the session that we were fast on the grid.”
For qualifying, Buras said that to earn the pole position for Sunday’s race, it could take more than one driver.
“I think you go out and find a good teammate, like Chip Herr, and go out together; see if you can get some bump drafting going. That’s what we were practicing the whole time today. There are 25 cars, which is great for an inaugural race. So you go out, find some clear track and see what you can do; go lay down some good times early.”
The early session provided the setting for all three fast times, as Saini ran a 1:44.293 (77.305 mph) in the No. 28 specmiata.com/Autobarn Mazda entry, and Herr turned in a 1:44.347 (77.211 mph) in the No. 59 Sportscar Revolution/Mazdaspeed car.
The afternoon’s leader, Ara Malkhassian, of Houston, Texas, was fourth on the day in his No. 11 Alara Racing/Driver Source MX-5 with a 1:44.430 (77.150 mph), and Jim Daniels, of Germantown, Tenn., was fifth, posting a 1:44.669 (76.974 mph) in his No. 76 specmiata.com/Team MER MX-5.
In all, the top nine drivers finished within eight-tenths of the leader.
Qualifying for Sunday’s SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Hankook race, part of the U.S. Sports Car Invitational, is set to begin at 11:40 a.m. on Saturday.
For complete coverage of qualifying and the MX-5 Cup race, including recaps of each session and results, visit www.mx-5cup.com.
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