MONTEREY, Calif. (April 30, 2016) - After the thrilling first race of the Battery Tender MX-5 Cup on Friday where Patrick Gallagher (No. 72 McCumbee McAleer Racing) fought his way back after an incident in lap 1 to beat reigning 2015 champion John Dean II (No. 16 Sick Sideways Racing) by a mere .121 seconds, the field of 40 took to the track on Saturday to give race fans and the world another exhilarating show. The racers did not disappoint. With a lead change in the last 2 laps of the race and the top 3 cars exchanging positions consistently in the last four laps of the race, drivers were nothing short of spectacular in their race craft as well as their speed.
Dean II led the group to the green flag after securing the fastest lap time in qualifying. Unlike the previous day where competitors experienced a standing start, today’s race began with a rolling start.
The top five stayed close to one another in the the first few laps. In lap 4, MRT24 scholarship driver Robby Foley (No.63 Atlanta Motorsports Group) began to feel pressure from Nikko Reger (No. 01 Copeland Motorsports) who managed to pick up one spot in lap 4. Reger’s fourth place position was short lived as rookie Mark Drennan (No. 50 Winding Road Team TFB) reclaimed fourth position in the next lap.
Dean II continued to lead with Gallagher close behind. As the race continued, Dean II and Gallagher extended their advantage from the pack with a 2.034 second difference from the nearest car, Foley. As the leaders entered the corkscrew in lap 7, Gallagher dropped two wheels, but managed to stay behind Dean II, keeping the pressure.
With 30 minutes remaining in the race, Dean II and Gallagher continued to extend their lead from Foley, making it a 2.7 second difference. Dean Copeland (No. 7 Copeland Motorsports) began to make a few moves, overtaking Reger for fifth.
In the entry of turn 9 in lap 9, Drennan spun, and not finish the race. Drennan’s spin allowed Copeland to pick up one more position securing fourth place, prompting a double yellow with a little more than 20 minutes remaining.
As the green flag dropped again, the top 3, Dean II, Gallagher and Foley were equally spaced behind one another; however, in turn 5, Foley made an assertive move to take second place.
The leaders began to break away, but soon after Sarah Montgomery (No.14 Lemons of Love/Lafayette Travel) spun in turn 6 and did not continue. Another double yellow flag came out, allowing Copeland to catch up with the top 3. With 15 minutes remaining, Dean II led the field into the restart, followed by Foley in second and Gallagher in third. The field cleared the first turn and the top 5 were evenly space. With less than 10-minutes remaining, Foley made a move in the straightaway and made it stick, but it was short-lived as Gallagher retook the lead with an assertive move in turn 2. The top 3 continued to battle with Dean II eventually overtaking Foley to reclaim the second spot before turn 5. Foley continued to drop another position later in the lap as Copeland took third. The battling was epic.
With 5 minutes remaining, Copeland overtook Dean II for second in turn 2, but it was short lived as Dean II regained the position before the next turn. As the racers enter the corkscrew, Foley retrieved the third position from Copeland. As the race continued, Gallagher led, followed by Dean II and Foley, respectfully. The top five racers were nose to tail or side by side.
With less than 2 laps remaining, Foley made a bold move in turn 2 to take the lead, followed by Copeland and Gallagher. The top 5 continued to fight hard. The last lap sustained the action as Dean II took third away from Gallagher.
Foley took the win, followed by Copeland in second and Dean II in third.
“Toward the beginning of the race, I was having some trouble with the brakes and that’s why I fell to third,” recalled race 2 winner Foley; he continued: “The guys behind me were racing really hard, but I was in that bubble where I couldn’t quite catch John and Patrick. I was matching their times, but couldn’t catch them. The caution actually helped me out and I was able to get back to the leaders. I took a chance in turn 2 near the end of the race and made it stick.”
Other notable finishes included rookie Nicholas Evancich (No.41 Sick Sideways Racing) who took the Battery Tender Hard Charger award with 22 positions gained moving from 35th position to 13th place.
Rounds 3 and 4 of the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires will be at Watkins Glen on Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15, 2016.