BRASELTON, Ga. (Sept. 30, 2005) – Tom Long, of Raleigh, N.C., made a diving last-lap pass for the lead in turn 10 to take today’s SCCA Pro Racing Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Presented by Hankook North American Championship win at Road Atlanta. The Atlantic Tour versus Pacific Tour shootout ended with Long, the Atlantic Tour Champion, edging Pacific Tour Champion Justin Hall, of Davis, Calif.
Driving the No. 16 RaceSports/Race Engineering 1990 Mazda Miata, Long started fourth in the timed, 45-minute contest around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit. While the action for the lead was furious, with five different drivers leading at different times, Long remained in contention the entire race, never falling outside of the top five.
Hall started on the pole in his No. 12 Off Camber Racing 1990 Mazda Miata, but was shuffled back to ninth at the mid point of the race. The Californian was resurgent however, taking the lead on the penultimate lap. On the final lap, he took the defensive line into turn 10 at the end of the long back straightaway. Long made his bid on the outside of the entrance to 10, and was successful in his outbraking maneuver. He led Hall through the last two corners to win by 0.285-second.
“All the competitors out here, we just ran so close the whole race and it was a joy to drive out here with them,” Long said of the race. “Justin [Hall] moved to the inside to keep the defensive mode and he gave me plenty of room on the outside and I was able to really get in there real deep. The tires were getting greasy, but I managed to slide through on the outside and get the car turned in.
“It was awesome. I was surprised I was able to make the pass stick because the tires were getting greasy over the long run. He gave me the room though, and I was able to get to the apex without getting into him.”
Long earned the Atlantic Tour Championship after taking three wins in the eight-race Tour season, but it was the final race that garnered him the title of “North American Champion.”
“To come out on top, I just couldn’t believe it when I saw the checkered come out. I would have never guessed it. It’s just awesome.”
Hall dominated the Pacific Tour with four wins in six races, and surprised many to earn the pole for the event in his first ever appearance to Road Atlanta, a circuit on the Atlantic Tour. After leading early, though, Hall faded and some believed he was out of contention.
“I guess it would have been a mistake to write me off,” Hall joked after the race. “I’ve got to be honest; we missed the setup on my car a little. I couldn’t get the car out of turn seven and I couldn’t get it slowed down well in turn 10. I fell back to about 10th and I told myself to relax. Jim Daniels helped me out and said to just relax and save the car for the last three laps.
“To come out here on an East coast track in the East-West Championship and run P2 and have the pole yesterday, quite frankly, I couldn’t be more excited about the outcome,” he added. “There were 10 people that could have won this race and it would not be considered a fluke. There are some serious quality drivers out here and some good cars. It’s just a real pleasure to be out front and up here with all of these guys.”
Payton Wilson, of Gainesville, Ga., finished third in his No. 1 King RAT Motorsports 1995 Mazda Maita after starting 10th. The 2004 Atlantic Tour Champion worked his way into contention for the win after the first 10 laps. Wilson was able to take the lead on lap 12 of the 26-lap contest, and remained in striking distance for the remaining laps.
Daniels, of Germantown, Tenn., finished fourth after starting 11th in his No. 47 SpecMiata.com entry. Daniels made the biggest move early, taking the lead on lap nine and remaining in the top five for the remainder of the day.
Chris Puskar, of Chesterland, Ohio, finished fifth after starting 15th and earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award for advancing 10 positions.
Elivan Goulart also led the race early, but his run ended on lap 23 after contact with the car of Matthew Pombo, who had moved from 25th on the grid up into the top five. Neither driver was able to continue.
For more information about the SCCA Pro Racing Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Presented by Hankook, please visit www.scca.com/Pro
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