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Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca: Round 2

Apr 30, 2016

SALINAS, CA (April 30, 2016) - Round one of the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires at Mazda Raceway was an absolute thriller. Just like race one of the round, race two saw constant lead changes, position swapping, contact, and an overall impressive racing product. Unlike race one, however, this race featured a rolling start rather than a standing start and several yellow flag conditions with multiple drivers making major errors which terminated their chances at a race win. Team McCumbee McAleer Racing (MMR), on the other hand, rose above the dismal fate suffered by those unlucky drivers and managed to come out of #MazdaRaceway with phenomenal performances.  

The grid, which was set by qualifying speeds recorded on Friday, placed Patrick Gallagher in the 2nd position, Nick Igdalsky in an impressive 13th, Justin Raphael in 32nd, Max Faulkner in 36th, Chris Ohmacht in the 38th position, and Ari Straus directly behind. 

The most incredible outcomes of this race were elicited by MMR drivers Max Faulkner, Justin Raphael, Chris Ohmacht, and Patrick Gallagher; Faulkner, Raphael, and Ohmacht each managed to make up more than 10 positions in this 45 minute race from their initial placement on the grid and Patrick Gallagher led several laps and finished in an incredibly hard fought and well-earned 5th place.  

Faulkner, who gained a jaw-dropping 17 positions since the wave of the green flag, said a setup change was the key to his success today. “We changed the setup on the car for today and that helped us tremendously. I was able to make some aggressive moves and I am thrilled about out how our race went today,” Faulkner said post-race. Faulkner, who saw this track for the first time this weekend, seems to have an added level of comfort after each session he participates in and raising the bar for each race to come only seems to be a natural course of progression for this young talent. 

Faulkner’s teen-digit overtaking figure was accompanied by Chris Ohmacht’s tear through the field which consisted of 14 positions gained from start to finish. Although he may have made it looks easy from a spectator’s point of view, Ohmacht mentions that the changes in track condition, weather, and car setup played a huge role in deciding the outcome of today’s race. “From start to finish, this race felt better than yesterday’s despite the car’s inclination to push today,” said Ohmacht. “Besides that battle, today was a great race and I feel good going into Watkins Glen. Since I’ve been there before, I know that my track time in practice will be more productive and I feel like it’s my opportunity to get some even greater results.”  

Making sure his teammates didn’t steal all of the spotlight was Justin Raphael in the #29 Raphael Racing Mazda MX-5. Raphael made a remarkable 11 passes for position in today’s race and notes that setup changes, comfort, and experience combined to produce this fantastic result today. Post-race, Raphael mentioned that, “Today’s race felt much better than yesterday’s race. I was able to relay what I was battling with yesterday to the team and the setup changes they made for race #2 really aided in getting the car under me. My confidence went through the roof and I was finally able to be aggressive with the car knowing that it would react the way I needed it to.” When asked about how this momentum could carry over to Watkins Glen in a couple of weeks, Justin mentions that, “This weekend highlighted me coming to my competitor’s home track. I’ve recently been to Watkins Glen with the new pavement and this car and none of my competitors have, so now I feel like I have the edge. I’m stoked about it.”  

Today’s race also featured a ‘Spartan-like’ performance from Patrick Gallagher, driver of the #72 Spartan Cargo Trailers MX-5. Gallagher spent the first 20 minutes of race number two stalking John Dean II. Although his pursuit was abbreviated on several occasions due to full-course cautions, Gallagher was still able to work his way around Dean with about 15 minutes remaining in the race. At this time, the top 8 cars could figuratively fit under a blanket and were all running within a second of each other until another caution flew. When the race resumed, pure madness ensued and Gallagher was soon swapping positions in the top 6 and recovered impressively well to finish in the 5th spot to be the highest finishing MMR car for the second race in a row.  

“We put ourselves in the perfect position to win up until those cautions started flying,” Gallagher stated. “Things got crazy and drivers were passing under yellow and I was kind of a pinball there when the race went back green. Compared to yesterday, it was a bad race for us but when your bad race results in a 5th place finish, you have to be thankful and proud of what this team is capable of.” 

The next round of the Battery Tender MX-5 Cup continues at Watkins Glen from May 13th – May 15th. Stay tuned into all of MMR’s social media for team and series updates as well as how you can have a chance to win an autographed McCumbee McAleer Racing hat autographed by inaugural Global MX-5 Cup race-winner Patrick Gallagher and crew chief, James Dyer!   

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