LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 27, 2005) – Tom Long, of Raleigh, N.C., stole the pole position, and one drivers’ championship point, away from chief rival Payton Wilson Saturday morning in preparation for the afternoon’s SCCA Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Presented by Hankook Atlantic Tour Round Seven race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
On a damp but drying track, Long and Wilson ran nose to tail in the final moments of the 15-minute session after a brief stoppage to retrieve a car from the turn 11 gravel trap. Driving the No. 16 RaceSports/Race Eng 1990 Mazda Miata, Long turned a fastest lap of 1:50.851 (73.330 mph) around the 2.258-mile circuit—0.069-second ahead of Wilson’s time on the same, final lap of the session.
“The whole back half of the track was pretty dry and you had to trust the car and the track a little bit to get it through there,” Long said of the session. “The front half of the track was pretty tricky and you had to balance the front half and the back half to get a quick lap. I think I excel in these kinds of conditions. It was a fun run.
“I think that [Wilson] and I were both thinking about the points battle. It was a ‘I’m not letting him by’ and ‘He wants to get around me’ kind of deal. We pushed each other and I think it helped both of us find those limits to get our best laps.”
Long also closed to within 17 points of Wilson for the Atlantic Tour Championship, which concludes with this weekend’s doubleheader.
“I was a afraid before the black flag all that I was going to be pushed out of the top five [thus not earning any qualifying points],” Long said of the additional point he earned over Wilson in qualifying. “It’s one more point I don’t have to make up this afternoon.”
Driving the No. 1 King RAT Motorsport/OG Racing 1999 Mazda Miata, Wilson, of Gainesville, Va., led most of the session, and closed on Long on the track following the session stoppage. However, he was unable to get by despite turning his fastest time of 1:50.920 (73.285 mph) on the last lap.
The field was more than six seconds slower than they practiced on Friday in dry conditions.
Ryan Pilla jumped up to third on his final lap in the No. 10 Car Doctor World 1990 Mazda Miata with a time of 1:51.676 (72.789 mph). Chris Puskar was fourth in his No. 26 Carbotech/Red Line Oil 1991 Mazda Miata, followed by third-in-points Todd Buras, in his No. 56 Krispy Kreme Doughnuts/BSI Racing 1994 Mazda Miata.
Today’s Round Seven race begins at 2 p.m. (EDT). The 2005 SCCA Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Presented by Hankook concludes on Sunday afternoon with Round Eight.
Link to story: http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=396