BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 19, 2009) – Todd Lamb, of Atlanta, Ga., claimed his fourth-consecutive SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup win in Round Five at Barber Motorsports Park, part of the Porsche 250 Presented by Legacy Credit Union weekend. Marc Miller, of Holland, Mich., and Justin Piscitell, of Patterson, N.Y., completed the podium.
Starting from his fourth pole position in-a-row, Lamb led the MX-5 Cup field into Turn One at the start, but had heavy pressure from second-starting Miller and third-starting Piscitell. Pushing hard in an attempt to avoid another runner-up finish to Lamb, Miller’s No. 28 Team MER/MOCA/Race Now for Autism/MMP MX-5 was all over Lamb’s bumper in the opening laps. Miller set the fastest lap of the race in the process, turning a 1:44.787 (81.765 mph) and establishing the MX-5 Cup race lap record in the series’ first visit to the 17-turn, 2.38-mile track.
Miller’s attempt were in vain, however, as Lamb’s No. 84 AMG/Traqmate/Luna-C Racing MX-5 began to steadily pull a gap.
“We’re still learning about these BFGoodrich tires,” Lamb said. “We knew coming in that we’d have to conserve tires for this race, so I figured Marc [Miller] would try pressuring me right away to try and get me to burn the tires off. After that, we were just biding out time and letting the race come to us.
“I knew the car setup was going to be good after qualifying yesterday. I wanted to get to the halfway point before I started pushing it and I got lucky because [Miller and Piscitell] fell off a little bit, so at that point it was just a matter of running nine-tenths and keeping the car in first.”
Unchallenged and breezing through slower traffic, Lamb won the 26-lap, 61.88-mile contest by 3.965 seconds over Miller, averaging 81.765 mph in the race, which ran without a single yellow flag.
“I’ve got to thank the AMG guys,” Lamb concluded. “They’ve done a fantastic job. They’ve been working non-stop to get the car exactly the way we want it. We’re always brainstorming to figure out what the car needs to go faster and this track is a great example of needing a car that’s right straight from the get-go.”
His quick pace early in the race would come back to haunt Miller, as third-place Piscitell was able to catch the current point leader in the closing laps.
“At the beginning of the race I thought we had something for [Lamb] today, but then as the tires got hotter and the track got greasier, we just started to lose forward bite. From there, it was about trying to keep the tires cool.
“I got stuck behind a couple lapped cars. That really didn’t help at all, because once you lose the draft it’s kind of tough to keep up. There were definitely a couple situations out there that helped Justin [Piscitell] close back up. I could tell that he was cooling his tires and I thought ‘that’s pretty smart, I wish I could have done that,’ but I really wanted to see if I could hang with Todd and if the two of us could pull away.”
Miller was able to hold Piscitell off and take his fourth runner-up finish in-a-row. Though Lamb has won four of the opening five rounds, he missed the season opener, which keeps Miller at the top of the Championship points. Miller leads Piscitell, 292 to 293. Lamb is third with 256 points. Lamb will have the opportunity to drop his lowest scoring race from his point total. If drops were applied to the points as they stand after Round Five, Lamb would be leading Miller, 256 to 235.
“I don’t think anyone should complain about four second-place finishes, but when it’s to the same person it does get frustrating,” Miller said. “We hope we’ll have something for him next weekend at Autobahn. More of us at Team MER have experience there. Three of our drivers are based in the Midwest and have been around that track plenty of times. That helps going into the weekend. I think if we start out quicker, we may have a better chance of having something for Todd come race time.”
Driving the No. 89 ALARA Racing/DAMG Racing/MAZDASPEED MX-5, Piscitell took home his fourth third-place finish of the season, though if the race had been one lap longer, he may have had the opportunity for a career-best second place.
“I think if we’d had one more lap, I would have been able to get a little closer to [Miller] and gotten inside of him in at least one of the corners. “[Miller] and I both heated our tires up pretty good in the beginning trying to chase down Todd, so I started to relax a little sooner than Marc might of to cool my tires down a bit. Then, I just tried to work my way back up at the end.
“I’m still gunning for that first win. I’d really like to be able to make it to the top step of the podium. We’ve got another five races left to try and chase these two guys down.”
The battle for fourth, fifth and sixth was one of the best races on the track before Ara Malkhassian spun from fourth on lap 11. Sixth-place Nick Mancuso, of Mettewa, Ill., took advantage of the situation, picking up two spots in the No. 29 Team MER/ LakeForestSportsCars/Tire Lyna MX-5. It was the second-consecutive fourth-place finish for Mancuso. His teammate, Zach Ply, of Joliet, Ill., completed the top five in the No. 27 Team MER/Insight Beverage Co. MX-5.
Teammates Mark Jenkins and Jeff Mosing finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
Lyonel Kent, Robert Michaelian and Christopher Rhoades completed the top 10.
Advancing five positions in the race, from 23rd to 18th, in the No. 44 Steve Bottom Racing MX-5, Steve Bottom, of Newport Beach, Calif., was awarded the Carbotech Hard Charger Award.
Round Five of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup will be broadcast on syndicated cable and satellite networks. A full schedule is available on the series’ web site.
Round Six heads to Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill., July 24 – 26. More information is available at www.mx-5cup.com.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Results from Sunday’s 26-lap, 61.88-mile SCCA Pro Raicng Playboy Mazda Mazda MX-5 Cup Round Five race, part of the Porsche 250 Presented by Legacy Credit Union at Barber Motorsports Park, with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).
1. (1), Todd Lamb, Atlanta, Ga., MX-5, 26.
2. (2), Marc Miller, Holland, Mich., MX-5, 26, -3.965.
3. (3), Justin Piscitell, Patterson, N.Y., MX-5, 26, -4.219.
4. (6), Nick Mancuso, Mettawa, Ill., MX-5, 26, -21.676.
5. (4), Zach Ply, Joliet, Ill., MX-5, 26, -26.857.
6. (8), Mark Jenkins, Fairview, Texas, MX-5, 26, -31.642.
7. (10), Jeff Mosing, Austin, Texas, MX-5, 26, -31.872.
8. (7), Lyonel Kent, Powell, Tenn., MX-5, 26, -33.775.
9. (9), Robert Michaelian, Seal Beach, Calif., MX-5, 26, -34.192.
10. (12), Christopher Rhoades, Dallas, Texas, MX-5, 26, -42.634.
11. (13), Max Riddle, Vancouver, British Columbia, MX-5, 26, -43.294.
12. (14), Mike Jenkins, Fairview, Texas, MX-5, 26, -49.837.
13. (11), Stan Wilson, Mt. Juliet, Tenn., MX-5, 26, -1:01.440.
14. (16), Brad Adams, New Orleans, La., MX-5, 26, -1:06.619.
15. (18), Chris Brown, Portsmouth, N.H., MX-5, 26, -1:27.426.
16. (19), Tim Probert, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 26, -1:33.717.
17. (17), Harrison Williams, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 26, -1:33.882.
18. (23), Steve Bottom, Newport Beach, Calif., MX-5, 26, -1:40.824.
19. (15), Alfred Ciaola, New York, N.Y., MX-5, 26, -1:48.084.
20. (21), Michael Vitarelli, Brooklyn, N.Y., MX-5, 25, -1 lap.
21. (22), Laura Olson, Costa Mesa, Calif., MX-5, 25, -1 lap.
22. (20), Brian Audet, Alexandria, Va., MX-5, 25, -1 lap.
23. (24), Susan Krohn, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 25, -1 lap.
24. (5), Ara Malkhassian, Sonoma, Calif., MX-5, 23, Gas.
Time of race: 45 minutes, 45.182 seconds.
Average speed: 81.148 mph
Margin of victory: 3.965 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-26, #84 Todd Lamb
Fastest race lap: #28 Marc Miller, 1:44.787 (81.765 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #84 Todd Lamb, 1:43.072 (83.126 mph)
Carbotech Hard Charger: #44 Steve Bottom advanced five positions in the race
#19 Robert Michaelian fined $500 and 41 points for avoidable body contact
#27 Zach Ply fined $450 and 25 points for avoidable body contact