ELKHART LAKE, Wis., (Aug. 16, 2009) - Todd Lamb, of Atlanta, Ga., captured his record-extending sixth-straight SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup win in the final race of the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase weekend at Elkhart Lake's Road America. Marc Miller, of Holland, Mich., and Zach Ply, of Joliet, Ill., completed the podium.
Lamb started second in the No. 84 AMG Racing/Traqumate/Luna-C Racing MX-5 and spent the first portion of the 17-lap, 84.416-mile race trading the lead with Miller and polesitter Justin Piscitell, of Patterson, N.Y. Those three were also joined by Stan Wilson, of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., and Ply to complete a five-car breakaway from the field.
On lap 11, Lamb took the lead for good and held off one last attempt by Wilson's No. 92 Hale Motorsports/NetEvidence/Alliance 1 MX-5 in Turn Five on lap 12. Three laps later, Wilson and Miller made contact in Turn Six, with Miller going into second and Wilson dropping to fifth. The battle allowed Lamb to break away from the pack and cruise to his sixth series win in his sixth attempt.
"The start was kind of what we expected," Lamb said. "The cars on the inside helped each other. The outside line didn't go as fast as we hoped, but we knew we were going to get shuffled toward the back a bit. I just waited to come back around for the first lap, then passed a couple guys and got back to the front.
"To stay up front at a track like Road America, you've got to hit every corner perfectly. My biggest help was being able to get a gap out of the Carousel and through the Kink, down into Canada Corner. That kept the cars behind me far enough back on the front straight as well. That was the key for us.
"AMG had the car set up beautifully as usual, and we just kept getting faster and faster as the race went on. I think we turned some of our fastest laps at the end."
Lamb hypothesis was correct; he turned the fastest lap of the race, a 2:40.901 (90.570 mph) on lap 15.
Miller started third in the No. 28 Team MER/MOCA/Race Now for Autism/MMP MX-5 and never fell out of the top five. The point leader entering the weekend, Miller shuffled to the front and back of the lead pack as he found the right drafting partners.
"The car was fantastic, but you've got to have teammates here to work with," Miller said. "Nick [Mancuso] was with me for a little bit, but he fell out. Then, Zach [Ply] worked his way up and was really helpful toward the end of the race. Justin [Piscitell] worked really well with us, he always does, but he made a mistake in five and I went to the inside of him."
On the final lap, Miller held off his drafting partner to finish second, keeping a perfect podium record in MX-5 Cup competition. Miller was pleased with his finish in the physical race, but disappointed he didn't get a chance to challenge Lamb for the win and extend his lead in the Drivers' Championship.
"It was like bumper cars out there," recalled Miller. "There were a lot of late-braking maneuvers and contact that wasn't necessary. I feel lucky to come away with a second-place finish, but unfortunately it let Todd get away for the win. Overall, this is the type of racing we have at Road America. We knew that coming in. It's a real barn-burner, drafting track. You just have to come in with an open mind and work well with people.
"I've got to thank the MER team. I definitely had a winning car today. Zach and Nick both had winning cars, but when it comes down to it, you need luck and when you don't have the luck, you end up second. I'm still leading the points, but didn't get enough points to really be happy with the weekend."
Ply started his No. 27 Team MER/Insight Beverage Co MX-5 10th, but was in the top five by lap three.
"I had a great start," Ply said. "The second the green flag came out, I got my car to the left and saw a lane to go down. I tried to get past as many cars as I could before Turn One. I slotted in and ran a smart race from there. Luckily, I was with some teammates, so we all worked together and one-by-one, I was working my way to the front."
On the final lap, the four-car battle for second heightened and Ply delivered a healthy bump to teammate Miller in Turn Five. They pair continued to complete the podium.
"We were all trying to go as deep as we could on the last lap," Ply said. "I went to the inside. I saw a lane open. My pedal went pretty much to the floor and I held on for dear life. I gave Marc a tap. I though I would have had a run on him up the hill, but I said 'Marc, let's go! Let's Go! Let's finish this out!' I followed him to the finish line and it made for an exciting race."
Ply's run from 10th to third garnered the Carbotech Hard Charger award for the most positions gained in a race.
Wilson showed his prowess in the deep Road America brake zones to finish fourth. Inches off his bumper at the finish was Piscitell, who brought the No. 89 ALARA Racing/DAMG Racing/Mazdaspeed MX-5 home fifth.
Jamie Slone finished sixth in his first MX-5 Cup race, followed by Tim Probert, Keith Verges, Mark Jenkins and Nick Mancuso.
Miller's lead over Lamb in the Drivers' Championship has shrunk to 21 (404 to 383). Piscitell remains third with 367 points. All MX-5 drivers will get to drop their lowest scoring race from their final point total. If dropped races were factored in following Round Seven at Road America, Lamb would be leading the points.
Today's race will air on syndicated cable and satellite networks. A full schedule is available at www.mx-5cup.com.
The series has a healthy break before Round Eight when it heads to Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, Sept. 17 - 19. For more information visit www.mx-5cup.com.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Results from Saturday's 17-lap, 68.815-mile SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Round Seven race, part of the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase at Road America, with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps, distance behind winner and reason out (if any).
1. (2), Todd Lamb, Atlanta, Ga., MX-5, 17.
2. (3), Marc Miller, Holland, Mich., MX-5, 17, -5.701.
3. (10), Zach Ply, Joliet, Ill., MX-5, 17, -5.729.
4. (4), Stan Wilson, Mt. Juliet, Tenn., MX-5, 17, -6.015.
5. (1), Justin Piscitell, Patterson, N.Y., MX-5, 17, -6.098.
6. (6), Jamie Slone, Tucson, Ariz., MX-5, 17, -8.915.
7. (12), Tim Probert, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 17, -13.678.
8. (11), Keith Verges, Dallas, Texas, MX-5, 17, -19.536.
9. (14), Mark Jenkins, Fairview, Texas, MX-5, 17, -43.846.
10. (5), Nick Mancuso, Mettawa, Ill., MX-5, 17, -2:14.873.
11. (13), Richard Fisher, Fairview, Texas, MX-5, 17, -2:15.696.
12. (8), Lyonel Kent, Powell, Tenn., MX-5, 17, -2:39.586.
13. (7), Dennis Trebing, Cape Coral, Fla., MX-5, 13, Mech.
14. (15), Chris Brown, Portsmouth, N.H., MX-5, 11, Engine.
15. (9), Jeff Mosing, Austin, Texas, MX-5, 4, Tire.
16. (16), Pat Womack, Burr Ridge, Ill., MX-5, 0, DNS.
17. (17), Jeff Parnell, Lake Forest, Ill., MX-5, 0, DNS.
Time of race: 46 minutes, 02.078 seconds.
Average speed: 89.692 mph
Margin of victory: 5.701 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-1, #89 Justin Piscitell; laps 2-8, #84 Todd Lamb; laps 9-9, #28 Marc Miller; laps 10-17, #84 Todd Lamb
Fastest race lap: #84 Todd Lamb, 2:40.901 (90.570 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #89 Justin Piscitell, 2:39.596 (91.310 mph)
Carbotech Hard Charger: #27 Zach Ply
SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Drivers Championship
After Seven of 10 Rounds
Pos., Driver, Points (wins)
1, Marc Miller, 404 (1)
2, Todd Lamb, 383 (6)
3, Justin Piscitell, 367
4, Zach Ply, 328
5, Stan Wilson, 300
6, Mark Jenkins, 257
7, Lyonel Kent, 251
8, Nick Mancuso, 250
9, Tim Probert, 229
10, Ara Malkhassian, 224
Attached image: Todd Lamb held off a tough MX-5 Cup field at Road America to take the win.
Credit: ©SCCA/Mark Weber