Haldeman earned a big payday along with the title of NASA Spec Miata Champion; Peter Ensor wins Teen Mazda Challenge class
After all the anticipation and preparation of the Toyo Tires Classic at the NASA Championships presented by Toyo Tires, the Spec Miata race came down to speed, skill and little local knowledge as Chris Haldeman provisionally claimed the big prize and the title of NASA national champion.
Despite setting fast time on Friday, Haldeman qualified poorly Saturday morning and found himself starting 24th in a field of 60 cars. The poor starting position must have motivated Haldeman because he climbed up more than 15 spots on the first lap and set his sights on the leaders, Danny Steyn and Todd Buras.
“When that green flag came out, I just dropped the hammer,” Haldeman said. “I think we were like seventh or eighth on the first lap and then we closed in. All I had to do was keep from vomiting in my helmet and this race was going good – I’ve been sick all week. I’ve been battling a cold. I’m just glad to get it done.”
Danny Steyn led the early laps and even broke out to a one- or two-car lead for a while, but he couldn’t hold off Buras, who took over the lead on lap seven. Buras held the lead for another lap, but ran wide at the exit of Turn 12, and Haldeman pounced.
“It was a shootout – best racers in the country,” Buras said after the race. “By the exit of [Turn] 3, I was behind Danny Steyn and I was going to push him a little bit, and he slipped a little, so I took the lead and ran for a while in the lead. Then I looked in the mirror and here comes Chris.”