SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 27, 2005) – Justin Hall, of Davis, Calif., didn’t just knock on the door of opportunity at Infineon Raceway, he kicked it in.-30-
From the start of the SCCA Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Presented by Hankook Pacific Tour Round 5 race, part of the Argent Mortgage Grand Prix, Hall dominated the 16-lap race, sprinting away from the pack in his No. 12 OFF Camber Racing 1990 Mazda Miata to go flag-to-flag for the win, which wrapped up the first Pacific Tour championship of his career.
Terry McCarthy, of Mountain View, Calif., finished 5.432 seconds behind Hall in his No. 29 FMG/880 Trailer/Rebellow Racing Engines 1995 Mazda Miata, and Carlo Sparacio, of Federal Way, Wash., was third in his No. 2 TC Motorsports/Group 2 Motorsports 1992 Mazda Miata.
Averaging 70.503 mph on the 2.26-mile circuit, Hall bolted away slightly when the green flag flew and maintained a solid lead. However, McCarthy appeared to be closing the gap with each lap, coming within a second at one point, before his Miata’s engine began to misfire on lap four – a problem that has repeatedly surfaced for McCarthy throughout the year.
After McCarthy’s misfortune forced him to short-shift for the remainder of the race, it was clear sailing for Hall.
“My spotter told me that Terry was running into problems,” Hall said. “At that point, I just tried to hit every point on the track, hit all the apexes, not drive it off the track, really just be perfect and be smooth. I wanted to hit off a few quick ones at the beginning, which I did, and here we are. Tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun, and I’m just going to go have a nice drive.”
Hall also said that it didn’t bother him that his Pacific Tour Championship chase was over before Sunday’s, and the year’s, final Round 6 race.
“The goal at the beginning of the year was to win this series, and I’m happy to wrap it up on the fifth race instead of waiting until tomorrow and dealing with last race drama,” Hall said. “It’s a nice reward for my wife and family who have supported me this year. It really makes it worth their while after they let me come out here and do this.”
Afterward, McCarthy was obviously disappointed, but took a diplomatic stance to the day’s events.
“Yeah, it’s frustrating, but it’s been frustrating for a couple of races now,” McCarthy said. “At Portland, I had a couple-second lead that I lost because of the miss. I changed everything I could and then came here. It seemed to be fine. I made a good qualifying run that put me on the front row. Then I changed a few more things and it came back.
“You can’t really be upset about it. It’s not like you are going to throw your helmet or kick your car. It’s one of those things. It’s part of racing,”
Sparacio qualified third for Saturday’s race, but it took nearly everything he had to finish there. Battling more than one driver, Sparacio said it was a fight to the end because no one wanted to give up.
“It was just some really intense racing out there,” Sparacio said. “There were lots of really close battles for that final podium position. It was really close with both Terry and [Brad] Rampelberg for a while.
“I was running a really strong pace, and toward the end of the race, but it wasn’t enough to catch Terry at the end.”
Robert Michaelian, of Seal Beach, Calif., earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award in the No. 63 1990 Mazda Miata, finishing sixth after starting 16th.
Bobby Carter, of Brentwood, Calif., turned in perhaps the best performance of the day, finishing fourth in his No. 11 Valley Collision/880Trailer/Rebello Racing 1991 Miata after starting last (17th). Carter had qualified sixth, but went to the back after taking a hardship lap to correct a vibration problem.
Andrew Staveley, of Walnut, Calif., finished fifth in his No. 9 AJSRacing.com 1992 Mazda Miata.
The SCCA Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Pacific Tour portion of the Argent Mortgage Grand Prix wraps up its 2005 slate with Round 6 Sunday afternoon. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 3:15 (PDT).
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