ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Sept. 23, 2006) – Payton Wilson, of Chantilly, Va., was the class of the field in a rain-drenched qualifying session for Sunday’s SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Hankook finale, part of the Champ Car weekend at Road America. Jason Saini, of Fort Worth, Texas, was second.
Driving the No. 59 BSI Racing/Miami Dade Health Mazda MX-5, Wilson took his first-ever series pole by more than a second, turning a fast lap of 3:08.298 (77.392 mph) around the 4.048-mile circuit.
“I love driving in the rain,” said Wilson, who has six career poles in the precursor to the MX-5 Cup, the Mazdaspeed Miata Cup. “Any chance I get, whether it’s at a driver’s school or whatever, any time it rains, I’ll go out and do some laps to get the experience. The rain line around here is night and day different from the dry. You basically go where no one else has. It’s amazing how much grip there is out on the track in the rain.”
With about two minutes to go, Wilson was two seconds clear of the next closest driver at a 3:10.413. However, as drivers finished their final laps, the top of the grid shuffled.
Pratt Cole, of Salt Lake City, Utah, was the first to finish and jumped to the top with a 3:10.300 (76.933 mph) in the No. 88 DEX/Western Companies Mazda MX-5. However, Wilson had one bullet left, and knocked another two seconds off. After Wilson finished his session, Saini gave one last effort in his No. 28 MER/specmiata.com/Autobarn Mazda MX-5, turning a 3:09.421 (76.933 mph) to line up second for Sunday’s race.
Series Champion Jim Dainiels, of Germantown, Tenn., was fourth with a 3:10.441 (76.521 mph), followed by Ara Malkhassian, of Houston, Texas, with a 3:10.792 (76.380 mph).
Sunday’s 45-minute season-ending race is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. (CDT). Live timing and scoring for the event is available at www.mx-5cup.com. All SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Hankook races will be broadcast on SPEED this December.