Birmingham, Ala. (23 April 2017) – McCumbee McAleer Racing’s (MMR) expectations heading into Rounds 1 & 2 at Barber Motorsports Park were undeniably high. The coalescence of the team’s talented driver lineup, preparedness, and momentum proved to be lethal to the competition throughout the series’ first race weekend with Patrick Gallagher bringing home a weekend sweep. Partaking in Gallagher’s success were Robert Stout and Max Faulkner who earned their best-ever results in the series which displayed their ability to join their teammate at the top step of the podium.
Round 1, which kicked off the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup season, began with Patrick Gallagher sitting on the outside pole, Robert Stout starting 10th, and Max Faulkner starting 15th. From the moment the green flag flew, the intense door-to-door racing picked up right where it left off throughout the 2016 season. Gallagher fought relentlessly with Mark Drennan for the lead lap after lap and the only thing slowing the two down were the three instances of full-course yellows on track.
The final full-course yellow was replaced with a green flag with just one lap of racing remaining. Drennan, who was breathing down the neck of #29 ModSpace / Howard Concrete Pumping machine, could not shake the nerves of Gallagher who brought home a win in a thrilling final lap shootout. “It was a really close race – it’s so tough to pass so it was really tight racing,” said Gallagher. “Sparky (Nathanial Sparks) made a mistake and I got to the lead. I knew it was my job to lose it at that point. (Mark) Drennan raced me really clean and I was glad when it went green at the end there because I didn’t want to win it under yellow. The car was hooked up – McCumbee McAleer racing gave me a great car. Big thanks to Battery Tender, Mazda, ModSpace, Howard Concrete Pumping, Spartan Cargo Trailers and BFGoodrich Tires and everyone else involved with this series.”
Not far behind the leaders were MMR teammates, Robert Stout and Max Faulkner, who battled relentlessly throughout the entire event. Stout, who was fighting with the lead pack all race long, suffered a heartbreaking transponder failure which disallowed his scoring and finishing position. “Once the green flag flew, I was battling within the top 10 and really learning the race craft needed for these momentum cars,” Stout said. “Unfortunately our transponder was not picking up our timing and scoring which caused us to be black flagged. The MMR crew dug into the issue as quickly as possible but it was an issue completely out of our control. This was extremely heart breaking and frustrating, but we picked our heads up and got ready for round two.”
Faulkner, along with Stout, had more to prove in Race 2. Faulkner battled extremely hard all race long just outside of the top 10 and came home in the 16th position. “Race 1 was pretty difficult for me as I worked on figuring out how to make passes on a track that is inherently hard to pass on,” Faulkner stated. Max would go on to continue this fight from the 13th starting position in Race 2.
The final round hosted by Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama proved to be even more white-knuckle than round which preceded. Each team now had even more to prove to themselves and their competitors which effortlessly put on a pulse-raising show.
Gallagher, who started in the second position, got temporarily shuffled back a few positions after the drop of the green flag. Showing his typical quiet and driven determination on track, Gallagher picked off one position at a time and eventually worked his way up to the second position with just a few laps to go. Putting increasing pressure Mark Drennan, the leader, Gallagher decided to make a dive for the lead on the final lap.
This dive propelled Gallagher to a weekend-sweeping victory and one which Patrick hails to have contained some of his best racing ever. “I feel like those last three laps of the race, those were the three best laps of my life that I’ve ever driven,” said Gallagher. “It (the pass for the lead) was a risky move, but I wanted to win the race. I wasn’t going to do that move every lap, but I was able to beat him over the hill and I got by him. I’ve lost a championship by a point before, so I know how important every point is. A huge thank you to Battery Tender, Mazda, ModSpace, Howard Concrete Pumping, Spartan Cargo Trailers, BFGoodrich Tires and McCumbee McAleer Racing, I couldn’t do it without any of those folks, so thank you!”
Right behind Gallagher all race long was a driver determined to make his presence known. Robert Stout, in the #28 Lucas Oil / Lucas Oil Racing TV Mazda, tore through the field and was battling for a podium in the final laps. “I was making a move for 4th on the last lap when a three-way battle put me back in 6th and coming out of the final corner, I was side by side for the 5th position and took home 6th out of 31 competitors,” Stout expressed. “This series is epic to say the least! In the midst of all that, I managed to put down a lap time on my own putting almost 5 tenths on the entire field taking the fastest lap of the race!”
Max Faulkner, who was just behind the lead pack in his #82 Faulkner Racing Miata, but on quite a show grabbing the 11th position which tied his overall best finishing position in the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires. “Race 2 went much better as I was able to make some passes and hold off rivals for most of the race and I ultimately ended up 11th, equaling my best result ever in the series,” Faulkner said. “A huge thank you to McCumbee McAleer Racing as I am confident I had the best handling car out of the entire field!”
The #27 ModSpace Motorsports Miata driven by Nick Igdalsky also had an extremely strong showing in Race 2. Igdalsky propelled the blue and grey MX-5 Cup machine from a 30th place starting position up 11 positions to come home in the 19th position.
Reveling in the team’s success throughout the first rounds the Global MX-5 Cup season are McCumbee McAleer Racing team owners, Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer. “What a truly amazing weekend for MMR. Patrick in the #29 ModSpace car drove extremely well the whole week but his last lap pass in Race 2 was the icing on the cake for a dominant double win weekend and championship lead,” said McAleer. “It was Bittersweet for our rookie, Robert Stout, in the #28 Lucas Oil MX-5 as a transponder issue in Race 1 put him at the back, but he showed that he is a true title contender this year and that he will claw his way back in the championship. In Race 2, his best lap was a half second quicker than the entire field without a draft and this has put him on everyone’s radar. I was also very pleased with Max Faulkner who showed he can run up at the front with these guys and a drive to 11th in Race 2 right on the tail end of the lead pack makes me excited for the things to come with him.”
Chad McCumbee stated, “If there was any doubt in the legitimacy of MMR, this was surely put to bed this week. Our team overall showed that we are contenders for the championship and the Rookie of the Year this season. Great job to all of our drivers and crew!”
The Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires will return to racing at the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on June 16-18 for Rounds 3 & 4.