TOOELE, Utah (Sept. 19, 2008) – Brad Rampelberg, of San Jose, Calif., earned his first-career pole in qualifying for Saturday’s SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Round Six race, part of the SunRichGourmet.com 1000 Presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels. Robert Huffmaster, of San Jose, Calif., will start second.
Making his first visit to North America’s longest road course, Rampelberg instantly found his groove, setting the fastest time in morning practice and second-fastest time in the afternoon session. The 2007 SCCA Spec Miata National Champion and winner of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder MX-5 Cup shootout felt he thrived on the course’s flowing, high-speed corners.
“I’d never seen Miller Motorsports Park until yesterday,” Rampelberg said. “I think it’s awesome. This track fits me perfectly. It’s got a lot of sweeping corners and trail braking, and that happens to fit my style. It has a lot of high-speed stuff and I love the high-speed stuff for sure.”
Loving every bit of the 4.486-mile, 24-turn course, Rampelberg set a pole time of 3:19.945 (80.770 mph) in the No. 14 Hooverspeed/Mazda/Patron Tequila MX-5, with a little drafting help from teammate Todd Buras. Rampelberg is aiming for a perfect race on Saturday, as he attempts to make up Championship ground lost to Foss and Buras at Trois-Rivières.
“I’m really excited. Obviously Eric [Foss] and Todd are one-two in the Championship and I sort of fell back [following a crash at Trois-Rivières]. I’m happy to still be racing up there with those guys and running up front. I couldn’t have done this without my teammate though. This is a team sport, and with the draft and the way the wind was coming up the front straightaway, Todd really helped me out and got that lap for me.”
“There are so many corners here that no one corner is the most important corner. I guess if you screw up one corner you have 23 more to make it up, but it’s such a flowing course that once you get into a rhythm, you’ll be hitting all your marks.”
Mosport race winner Huffmaster will start Saturday’s race from second in the No. 27 Team MER/Huffmaster Co. MX-5. After setting the fastest practice time of the day in the afternoon session, Huffmaster entered a lap of 3:20.439 (80.571 mph) and will start on the outside of the front row.
Point leader Eric Foss, of Fort Worth, Texas, turned a fast lap of 3:20.536 (80.532 mph) in the No. 28 Team MER/Autobarn Mazda MX-5, which was good enough for third on the grid. Foss’ teammate Ryan Schimsk, of Austin, Texas, will start alongside him in the No. 81 Team MER/Airco Mechanical MX-5. Schimsk turned a lap of 3:20.699 (80.466 mph) to qualify fourth.
Currently chasing Foss in the Championship, Buras, from Melbourne, Fla., will start Saturday’s race fifth. Driving the No. 56 Hooverspeed/Pancreaticcure.org MX-5, Buras recorded a 3:20.702 (80.465 mph).
Returning to the series after missing Rounds Four and Five, Brad McAllister will start sixth, followed by Ara Malkhassian in seventh.
Brothers Mark and Mike Jensen qualified eighth and ninth, respectively.
Deborah Loth completed the top 10.
Round Six of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup is scheduled for 9:55 a.m. (MDT) Saturday morning. Live timing and lap notes will be available at www.mx-5cup.com. The race will air on Dish Network, DIRECTV and regional cable sports networks the week of Oct. 13.
TOOELE, Utah - Starting lineup for Saturday's SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup race, part of the SunRichGourmet.com 1000 Presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels at Miller Motorsports Park, with position, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.
1, (14), Brad Rampelberg, San Jose, Calif., MX-5, 3:19.945, 80.770.
2, (27), Robert Huffmaster, Clarkston, Mich., MX-5, 3:20.439, 80.571.
3, (28), Eric Foss, Fort Worth, Texas, MX-5, 3:20.536, 80.532.
4, (81), Ryan Schimsk, Austin, Texas, MX-5, 3:20.699, 80.466.
5, (56), Todd Buras, Melbourne, Fla., MX-5, 3:20.702, 80.465.
6, (39), Brad McAllister, Portland, Ore., MX-5, 3:21.116, 80.300.
7, (11), Ara Malkhassian, Sonoma, Calif., MX-5, 3:21.301, 80.226.
8, (25), Mark Jenkins, Fairview, Texas, MX-5, 3:22.298, 79.830.
9, (47), Mike Jenkins, Fairview, Texas, MX-5, 3:22.452, 79.770.
10, (23), Deborah Loth, Fort Worth, Texas, MX-5, 3:22.598, 79.712.
11, (19), Robert Michaelian, Seal Beach, Calif., MX-5, 3:22.879, 79.602.
12, (30), Scott Tucker, Leewood, Kansas, MX-5, 3:23.081, 79.523.
13, (26), Tim Probert, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 3:23.278, 79.445.
14, (12), Alison Malkhassian., Sonoma, Calif., MX-5, 3:23.387, 79.403.
15, (00), Harrison Williams, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 3:23.423, 79.389.
16, (18), Tim Buck, Murrietta, Calif., MX-5, 3:24.160, 79.102.
17, (58), James Rhoades, Dallas, Texas, MX-5, 3:25.188, 78.706.
18, (59), Christopher Rhoades, Dallas, Texas, MX-5, 3:25.399, 78.625.
19, (44), Steve Bottom, Newport Beach, Calif., MX-5, 3:25.830, 78.460.
20, (54), Brad Adams, New Orleans, La., MX-5, 3:25.986, 78.401.
21, (22), Laura Olson, Costa Mesa, Calif., MX-5, 3:26.946, 78.037.
22, (06), Kenny Kun Yin, Los Angeles, Calif., MX-5, 3:30.381, 76.763.