John Dean (LEFT) will be only the third different polesitter in 2013, as he will take to the grid in first for Round 11 of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, part of the 16th Annual Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta. Elliott Skeer will start second followed by championship leader Christian Szymczak, of Palos Verdes, Calif., in third.
Driving the No. 16 Projections Research/Sick Sideways MX-5, Dean recorded a time of 1:39.550 (91.853mph) around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course, which was quick enough to claim the top position on the grid. En route to earning his sixth career pole position, Dean eclipsed the qualifying lap record of 1:39.579 (91.826mph) set by Michael Cooper in 2011. He will start Friday's Round 12 from fourth.
“I'm extremely happy to be on pole,” Dean said. “It's somewhat unexpected, as the other guys are pretty fast here. We've been developing our setup with the Speedcraft Racing guys. We've gone back and forth, found a setup that works, then suddenly the weather changes and the car doesn't work as well.
“We decided to start with our base setup and the car felt great, right off the bat. I put in a few fast laps early on, but wasn't able to do anything after that. I think a lot of guys ran into the same scenario. It's really going to be one hell of a race, with a lot of back-and-forth racing at the front.”
Skeer will start Thursday's Round 11 from second after stopping the clock at 1:39.787 (91.635mph) while driving the No. 17 Pelican Replacement Windows/ZoomZoomNation.com/Alpinestars MX-5. He will start the race ahead of his championship rival, Szymczak, in both races scheduled this week. As an added bonus, he collected an additional two points for capturing the pole for Friday's Round 12 race.
“We knew the car would be good on the sticker tires we put on for qualifying,” Skeer said. “We knew it was going to gain some speed, we just didn't know how much speed or how much of a setup change was needed.
“We were close on the setup change, but not quite where we wanted to be. We got a couple solid laps early in the session that I felt pretty good about. I came in to make a change, went back out, and wasn't able to do much with it. Either way, I knew it was going to be close at the front of the field.”
Szymczak, who turned a fast lap of 1:39.794 (91.628mph), will start Thursday's Round 11 and Friday's Round 12 races from third. Throughout 2013, Szymczak has never started off the pole behind the wheel of his No. 34 ALARA Racing MX-5. With a 15-point championship lead, Szymczak will have to work hard to get around Skeer in order to solidify his claim on the season title.
“It's been an extremely competitive weekend, so far,” Szymczak said. “There are quite a few guys that are going really fast out there, so it's going to be a close race at the front.
“Not a lot changed between the morning session and this one. We did what we could do, and I think we're in a pretty good position right now. Third is not a bad place to start. I would much rather be on the inside [of the track] than on the outside.”
Sebastian Landy will start Thursday's Round 11 from fourth in the No. 49 Excitations.com MX-5 after turning a lap of 1:39.983 (91.455mph). He will start Friday's race from second, marking his career-high starting position.
Patrick Gallagher will start from fifth in both Rounds 11 and 12. His best lap at the controls of the No. 28 MAZDASPEED/Howard Concrete Pumping/CTL Engineering MX-5 was 1:40.353 (91.118mph).
Drake Kemper snatched the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge Round 11 pole position from Kenton Koch after turning in a lap of 1:41.461 (90.123mph) in the No. 99 Royal Rugby SBMX-5. He will start Friday's Round 12 from second.
“We've never qualified on sticker tires before, in this series,” Kemper said. “So I talked to a bunch of the Cup guys to see what I needed to do. John Dean told me to scrub the tires in like mad, and then put in five flyers in a row.
“So, I took his advice, and was able to put a good lap in. Then, I pulled into to pits and learned that Kenton [Koch] had the provisional pole by 0.03-second. I went back out, caught some breaks with the traffic, and was able to turn the lap I needed.”
Koch will start Round 11 from second after a lap of 1:41.633 (90.123mph) driving the No. 63 Skip Barber Racing School SBMX-5. Koch will start Friday's race from the pole.
Lucas Bize qualified in third place for the start of Round 11 with a lap of 1:41.961 (89.681mph). He will also roll off in third place for Friday's Round 12 race.
Round 11 is scheduled for a 5:05 p.m. (EDT) start on Thursday. The season finale is scheduled to take the lights Friday, at 8:10 a.m. (EDT).
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BRASELTON, Ga. - Starting lineup for Thursday's SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Round 11 race, part of 16th Annual Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta, with position, class, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.
1, MX, (16), John Dean II, Sebring, Fla., MX-5, 1:39.550, 91.853.
2, MX, (17), Elliott Skeer, Vista, Calif., MX-5, 1:39.787, 91.635.
3, MX, (34), Christian Szymczak, Palos Verdes, Calif., MX-5, 1:39.794, 91.628.
4, MX, (49), Sebastian Landy(R), Great Falls, Va., MX-5, 1:39.983, 91.455.
5, MX, (28), Patrick Gallagher(R), Thornville, Ohio, MX-5, 1:40.353, 91.118.
6, MX, (8), Nathanial Sparks, Spanish Fort, Ala., MX-5, 1:40.651, 90.848.
7, MX, (18), Daniel Bender, Glencoe, Ill., MX-5, 1:40.772, 90.739.
8, MX, (11), Ara Malkhassian, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:40.825, 90.691.
9, MX, (13), Jeff Mosing, Austin, Texas, MX-5, 1:40.904, 90.620.
10, MX, (21), James Vance(R), Toronto, Ontario, MX-5, 1:41.019, 90.517.
11, MX, (20), George Jackson(R), Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:41.407, 90.171.
12, MX, (9), Zachry Lee(R), San Antonio, Texas, MX-5, 1:41.420, 90.159.
13, MX, (12), Bryan Hixon(R), San Antonio, Texas, MX-5, 1:41.907, 89.728.
14, MX, (38), Chris Windsor, Thurmont, Md., MX-5, 1:42.381, 89.313.
15, MX, (23), Christian Tetzlaff, Athens, Ga., MX-5, 1:42.502, 89.208.
16, MX, (10), Brent Mosing, Lafayette, La., MX-5, 1:42.569, 89.149.
17, MX, (19), Emilee Tominovich, Clarksville, Md., MX-5, 1:42.614, 89.110.
18, MX, (2), Beth Chryst, Herndon, Va., MX-5, 1:42.633, 89.094.
19, MX, (00), Harrison Williams, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:42.651, 89.078.
20, MX, (26), Tim Probert, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:42.701, 89.035.
21, MX, (27), Charles Paquin, Ottawa, Ontario, MX-5, 1:43.572, 88.286.
22, MX, (29), Marc Boily, West Chester, Pa., MX-5, 1:44.284, 87.683.
1, SBMX, (99), Drake Kemper, Toluca Lake, Calif., Barber MX-5, 1:41.461, 90.123.
2, SBMX, (63), Kenton Koch, Glendora, Calif., Barber MX-5, 1:41.633, 89.970.
3, SBMX, (60), Lucas Bize, New York, N.Y., Barber MX-5, 1:41.961, 89.681.
4, SBMX, (93), Robby Foley, Randolph, N.J., Barber MX-5, 1:42.456, 89.248.
5, SBMX, (97), David Knight, Ludlow, Vt., Barber MX-5, 1:42.711, 89.026.
6, SBMX, (95), Russell Muck, Grosse Pointe, Mich., Barber MX-5, 1:44.199, 87.755.
7, SBMX, (90), Fred Chin, Henderson, Nev., Barber MX-5, 1:45.299, 86.838.