Selin Rollan (No. 87 Sick Sideways) claimed his second consecutive Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires victory on Saturday, crossing the Barber Motorsports Park finish line with a slim 0.333s advantage over Bryan Ortiz (No. 4 Copeland Motorsports).
Mazda Road to 24 Scholarship winner Michael Carter made his first-ever Global Mazda MX-5 Cup podium appearance with his run to third place as the top four finishers all were within one second of Rollan at the end of the 45m racem which saw saw two different multi-car trains do battle from start to finish.
Rollan, Ortiz, Carter and fourth place finisher Luke Oxner fought throughout for the overall lead, while a second battle emerged for fifth featuring Tyler Gonzalez, Drake Kemper, Robert Stout, Peter Ensor, Robert Noaker and Zach Lee.
“He (Ortiz) is one of the best guys in this series, and I was scared when I saw him behind me,” said Rollan (below), who won Race 2 two weeks ago at Circuit of The Americas. “I have to admit that I’m mentally exhausted after that race. It was so intense — I need a rest before the next race!”
Ortiz had the quickest car on track, turning the fastest lap of the race at a 1m40.1699s — a new MX-5 Cup race lap record at Barber. He was unable to translate his speed into a win, though.
“The race went OK, but because I was following Selin, the engine was really hot,” Ortiz said. “I had the best handling car out there. I think we could have won it pretty easily because we were so much faster until we were behind somebody.
“We’ll see what we can do for the next race, and try again.”
Rollan has now taken over the provisional points standings with 80 points to Kemper’s 71.
Carter (No. 08 Copeland Motorsports) led the first 10 laps, but his efforts to re-take the lead from Rollan ultimately cost him the runner-up spot as well.
“I made a few mistakes early on, and when Selin passed me, I got a run out of Turn Two and got side-by-side with him — but that allowed Bryan to get to our inside, and he got by me,” Carter said. “The rest of the race I was just trying to get back into position to move up again, but it never happened.
“The car felt pretty good,” Carter continued. “Toward the end it was loose — which is a good thing; you don’t want it to be pushing. Third place and my first podium — it feels pretty good.”
Oxner (No. 77 White Racing) spent much of the race on his own between the two battling trains of cars, and he brought it home in fourth.
Behind, Gonzalez (No. 57 Copeland Motorsports) fought tooth and nail with COTA race winner Kemper and Stout for fifth. The 14-year old crossed the line 0.1093s ahead of Kemper to take the spot and earn the Battery Tender Hard Charger Award for picking up eight positions in the race.
“I went from 13th to 5th, it was a really good race,” Gonzalez said. “Me and (Drake) Kemper were battling from lap one. Unfortunately, I had a penalty when I got into him and I had to let him by. So then I had to go back and go back and get by him again! I’m glad I was able to come out on top. It was a ton of fun.”
The ND-1 class win once again came down to a fight between Sick Sideways teammates Nathanial Sparks and John Dean II. Sparks started from the ND-1 class pole in the No. 8, but Dean eventually got the better of him in the No. 16 machine and took his third-straight ND-1 class win.
Hernan Palermo (No. 20 Slipstream Performance) completed the ND-1 podium.