KOCH'S STELLAR WEEKEND – Glendora native Kenton Koch starred as the top Skip Barber Pro Challenge entrant all weekend, but saying he was “best in class” would do a gross disservice to the quality of his performance as a whole.
In the top five on pace all weekend, Koch qualified seventh overall – just ahead of De Phillippi and within several tenths of the overall leaders – before, by rule, he'd be moved to the back of the MX-5 cars and head of the Pro Challenge field in 14th overall.
No matter. By lap three he'd already risen to his natural starting position in seventh, just behind Malkhassian and Sparks, who were racing were fifth. Malkhassian retired and with just Sparks ahead, Koch made a move in the hairpin for the spot as the two were near traffic. That became fourth once Christian Szymczak retired ahead of him.
“My goal was just to run my race, the last thing I wanted to do was interfere with their battle,” Koch said. “I felt great on pace all weekend.”
Koch's fastest race lap was 1:12.380, only 0.001 off the overall fastest set by McAleer.
WILSON'S FUTURE PLANS – With more than a third of the MX-5 class entries (five of 13), CJ Wilson Racing has been one of the most active and focused teams on this championship this year.
Given how the future may shake out with regards to the impending sports car merger of Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series, the CJWR status is very healthy as it's in “wait-and-see” mode, according to Wilson's partner in running the team, and Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge driver Jason Saini.
“This situation is very positive for us as a whole, right now,” Saini said. “We'd already jumped in at the deep end in (Grand-Am) ST this year, and we weren't disappointed in ourselves so much, just we weren't realizing the potential we've shown. Next year we can improve there.
“We're not in a situation where we're committed to anything, and with ALMS now likely changing, we don't have that bridge where we were set to go there. We're not tied down. The timing is excellent, and timing is important.”
The team is set to have a major presence at this year's 25 Hours of Thunderhill with a number of young drivers, likely including at least two of its current MX-5 pilots, one star from this year's USF2000 championship and an up-and-comer from IMSA Prototype Lites.
ALSO OF NOTE – Mazda's Club Racing shootout contenders should be revealed within the next couple weeks, following the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America.
Szymczak, in his first season racing in nearly a dozen years, still wears his Barber Dodge Pro Series firesuit for Sick Sideways Racing, with updated logos. Szymczak raced against Ryan Hunter-Reay in the 2001 series championship, and was thrilled at RHR securing the IZOD IndyCar Series title.
Tim Probert and Brent Mosing (fifth and sixth) recorded their best finishes of the season. Kristine Craine and Emilee Tominovich largely stayed out of trouble when being lapped, ending eighth and ninth on the day, although Tominovich was almost too courteous when staying offline at one stage. She hung to the outside through a left-right chicane complex, but ran too far left over one of the barricades and several orange cones. No harm, no foul, but in ensuring she wasn't looking to jeopardize the leaders' race, she only wound up hurting her own.