PORTLAND, Ore. (June 10, 2007) – Andrew Caddell, of Graham, Wash., took his first career-win at Portland International Raceway for Round Four of the SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup, part of the Mazda Grand Prix of Portland Presented by Joe’s. Pratt Cole, of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Jesse Combs, of Woodlands, Texas, completed the podium.-30-
Starting second on the grid in his No. 30 TeamMER/AimSport/Pinnacle Mazda MX-5, Caddell dropped to third on the opening lap when his MER teammate Jason Saini, of Fort Worth, Texas, got the better start in his No. 28 Autobarn Mazda/Saferacer.com MX-5. The pair followed the No. 39 ACE Surgical Supply/H&M Motorsport MX-5 of polesitter Brad McAllister, of Portland Ore., into Turn One and commenced a heated battle for the lead.
Saini took over the lead from McAllister into the Festival Curves on lap two and it only took one more for Caddell to make his move around McAllister as well. On lap four, Caddell lost a spot to Combs who then moved into the lead on the following lap, but Combs’ defensive line into Turn One on lap six backfired, as Saini and Caddell both made their way around Combs and into the top two spots.
Caddell didn’t cut his teammate any slack, and on lap seven put his car into the lead entering Turn 10. After Combs made his way around Saini, he set his sights on Caddell and the two exchanged the lead over several laps, before Caddell took over the lead for good on lap 12. As Combs was forced to defend his position from Cole, Caddell powered away to a 2.096-second lead in one lap and would continue to open up the gap, crossing the line 6.327 seconds ahead of eventual second-place finisher Cole.
“The front three of us, me, Brad McAllister and Jason, we talked about going out there and being a train for the first couple of laps, but that obviously didn’t happen,” Caddell said. “Then Jesse came up there and started racing us really clean. He got pretty wide in the Festival Curves at one time and all of a sudden him and Jason starting fighting and I think there was some contact between them. But that was actually a good thing, it’s what allowed me to get away from them.
“This feels great. It felt like the Runoffs out there again,” the reigning SCCA Spec Miata Champion beamed. “After I broke out I just got to sit back and watch those guys fight it out back there.”
After Cole slid his No. 88 DEX/Western Companies/RPM MX-5 into the second spot on lap 13 courtesy of a quick off-course by Combs, he spent the remainder of the race defending his spot from not only Combs, but Saini and Ara Malkhassian as well.
“Jesse ran me very clean and very hard,” Cole said. “He did a great job and had pressure on me all the time. Ara was up there putting pressure on me, Patrick Barrett was up there. I don’t know what was wrong with me, about three times I broke out and had some breathing room and about half a lap later I would have the whole field back on me. Other than I could see Andrew up there slipping away, I felt like I was leading the race. Well, I’m not sure if I was leading it or holding it up. I was getting awfully wide at the end.”
Cole was relieved to see the checkered flag come out on the 31-lap, 60.977-mile race.
“The race will be more fun to remember than it was to do.”
After starting eighth on the grid in his No. 7 Coolgas Ltd./Alara Racing MX-5, Combs had an bumpy, but spirited run to third.
“This was our fourth race this year and it’s the only one where I’ve really had any contact,” Combs said. “My car is pretty beat up.
“This is a tough track to pass on and with qualifying in the rain yesterday it kind of messed some of us up who aren’t locals. That’s why we started eighth, but I was confident that we’d move up in the dry.
In the final lap of the race, it looked like Combs might miss the podium.
“Going into the Festival Curves I tried going to the outside of Pratt and there’s really only room for one car to go through there, but I think we were going to make it and then Jason I think was trying the same thing and just got in there a little late and a little hot, and next thing I know I’m turning to go left and I see Jason coming over the curb and he hit the side of me, but luckily he didn’t hit me hard enough. It was close, but that’s racing.”
Driving the No. 80 Jason Hoover Motorsports/Hooverspeed MX-5, Matt Cross, of Folsom, Calif., worked his way up from 13th on the grid to finish fourth after a late-race battle with Saini and the No. 11 Alara Racing MX-5 of Malkhassian, of Sonoma, Calif.
In what had already been a hard-fought race for the Championship leader, Saini made one last try for a podium finish, going alongside Combs through the Festival Curves on the final lap, but the pair made contact and allowed Cross to slip by, putting Saini in fifth.
Saini continues to lead the Championship by 30 points over Malkhassian and Cross who are tied with 89 points. Malkhassian, who finished sixth, took home the Hawk Hot Lap award for setting the fastest lap of the race. His time of 1:28.213 (80.273 mph) around the 1.967-mile track reset the series race lap record at Portland International Raceway.
Bob Michaelian, Todd Buras, Patrick Barrett and Andrew Carbonell completed the top ten.
Round Five and Six of the Mazda MX-5 Cup will take place June 25-27 at Burke Lakefront Airport as part of the Grand Prix of Cleveland.
For full event coverage and results, visit www.mx-5cup.com.
Link to story: http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=828