Round Two of the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires looked to be on track for another photo finish until Selin Rollan broke away from the field to score a dominant victory on Sunday at Circuit of The Americas.
Starting from pole position in the No. 87 Sick Sideways car, Rollan scrapped with Saturday race winner Drake Kemper and Bryan Ortiz through the first half of the race, before re-taking the lead with 18 minutes to go — and keeping it.
“I saw them make contact behind me and get bobbled up, and I just put my head down and was doing qualifying laps every lap, just hitting my marks,” said Rollan.
The fight for the final podium spots behind him enabled Rollan to cross the finish line 5.1882 seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Kemper.
The victory was extra sweet for Rollan, who was in the hunt for a win on Saturday, but was issued a drive-through penalty for contact and had to fight his way through the field to finish seventh.
“I’m thrilled to get this win,” he said. “This is sweet redemption from yesterday. I feel like we proved ourselves today. It is all for Phillip Kinzie. Sick Sideways just dominated this weekend, getting the win yesterday, taking a 1-2 today in ND-2 and winning ND-1, so it is a great weekend for the team.”
Race One winner Kemper led six laps of the race in his No. 99 Sick Sideways entry, but nearly lost it all with an epic slide through Turn 20 in the final stages of the race. A brilliant save led to second-place finish.
“I might need some new gloves; I think they are on fire at the moment!” joked Kemper who moved up four places in the closing laps of the race. “I had a wild last few laps, but I’m here [on the podium]. That’s what wins championships, stealing those extra points at the end. I knew that Selin [Rollan] would be fast today — he was upset about yesterday. [I thought he’d] go on a tear, and he did.
“I got a good jump on him at the start,” Kemper continued, “but once I got shuffled back, I knew he was going to be gone. I just had to not make any enemies and salvage as many points as I can.”
Luke Oxner took home his first podium of the season in the White Racing No. 77. Oxner started seventh and battled inside the lead pack for the whole race before finishing third.
Saturday’s third-place finisher Robert Stout (No. 28 McCumbee McAleer Racing) finished just shy of the podium in fourth.
Ortiz, credited with leading two laps of the race in the No. 4 Copeland Motorsports entry, completed the top five.
Another Copeland Motorsports entry, rookie Tyler Gonzales, was awarded the Battery Tender Hard Charger of the race award. Gonzales advanced five positions in the 45-minute race that was slowed by one full-course yellow for a Turn One incident at the start.
Former series champion John Dean II (No. 16 Sick Sideways Racing) earned his second-straight ND-1 class victory, finishing just ahead of teammate Nathanial Sparks (No. 8).
“[Hernan] Palermo was so fast the first half of the race and he was driving great,” said Dean. “I kept making little mistakes, but then I adjusted and my car just kept getting better and better. I think he (Palermo) might have missed a shift, and that gave me the chance to get by. And when those guys started battling behind me, I was able to stretch a gap a bit.
“It feels so good to have so many of our team cars up on the podium,” Dean added.”My guys were here until 3 in the morning working on the cars, and I couldn’t be happier as a driver and as a team owner.”
After leading ND-1 for the first half of the race, Palermo’s No. 20 Slipstream Performance MX-5 finished third.
The next two rounds of the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup series take place during the NTT IndyCar Series weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, April 5-6. Both races will be streamed live on mazdamotorsports.com.
For more information, log on to mx-5cup.com.