Robert Noaker’s very first Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires win came at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2018. A year later, he’s on the top step of the podium again after a race-long fight with Robert Stout. John Dean II continued his domination of the ND1 class with his sixth win of the season.
Noaker’s 2018 win at Mid-Ohio earned him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the youngest driver to win an IndyCar-sanctioned race (14 years old). The youngster, who also won at Road America earlier this season, showed his 2018 Mid-Ohio win was no fluke, leading 27 of 28 laps in Round Seven of the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup.
Starting second in the No. 13 Robert Noaker Racing MX-5, the (now) 15-year-old read the green flag perfectly and was in the lead by the first turn. He was followed by Stout in the No. 28 McCumbee McAleer Racing car, who also had a great start.
The two were glued to each other’s bumpers for the entire race. The only time Stout was able to get by was on Lap 19, but Noaker retook the lead the following lap and held off Stout to the checkered flag. It’s Noaker’s third career win in MX-5 Cup competition.
“Having success at Mid-Ohio is weird, because just two years ago when I was running in Spec Miata I wasn’t good here,” Noaker said. “I tried to stay out front the entire race so I could keep the engine temperature down and save the tires on the declines. This track suits my driving style. There wasn’t as much passing as I expected, but it still remained a very competitive race.”
Stout did make a strong move for the win on the final lap, but wasn’t able to make it stick and crossed the line in second.
“We tried to stay in second and hold on to the end where we were going to try and make the late race charge for the lead,” Stout explained. “This is one of the only tracks where that strategy can work, so I was happy to sit there. Once (Michael) Carter shuffled up behind me, it made me more nervous to just sit. Everyone executed very clean passes and it was easily the smartest and cleanest race that I have ever been a part of in this series. It was another good points day, and I am happy to be on that podium.”
Polesitter Gresham Wagner (No. 5 Sick Sideways Racing) employed a similar patience strategy when Carter passed him for third on lap 19.
“During the start of the race I got caught off guard because they were waving the flag when I wasn’t there yet,” Wagner said. “Luckily, I was able to keep the pace of the field and not lose too much. (Michael) Carter was better through the corners than I was, so when he got by me, I was in no rush to pass him back until closer to the end of the race. He left a hole open for me, and with the help of my teammate Selin (Rollan) I was able to secure that third position.”
Rollan (No. 87 Sick Sideways Racing) and Carter (No. 08 Copeland Motorsports) continued the fight after Wagner’s pass for the final podium spot. Their battle enabled rookie Ryan Hall and Bryan Ortiz to get by and take fourth and fifth, respectively.
Fourth is a career-best finish for Hall, who started eighth in the No. 76 Possien-Hall Motorsports MX-5. Another driver scoring his best finish of the season was Alex Bachoura in the No. 33 Slipstream Performance car, who finished 11th.
In the ND1 category for the previous generation Mazda MX-5 cars, Dean continued his dominance, winning his sixth race of the year. The driver of the No. 16 Sick Sideways Racing car was able to hold on to the lead pack of ND2 cars and crossed the finish line a full 19 seconds clear of Hernan Palermo (No. 20 Slipstream Performance). Dean’s Sick Sideways Racing teammate Nathanial Sparks (No. 8) completed the ND1 podium.
“My car is fantastic,” Dean said. “I think it may be the best handling car in the field. I can put it anywhere I want on the track. The ND2 class was able to put a gap in front of me on the straights, so when it came to the corners I needed to stay in the draft for as long as possible in order to keep a gap to the other ND1 drivers. My car was wonderful and a joy to drive.”
Fifth in the ND1 class, Jackson Robillard, was the Battery Tender Hard Charger of the race. The rookie started 23rd and advanced five positions to finish 18th.
“It feels good to get my first Hard Charger Award from Battery Tender,” Robillard said. “It was very hard to get through the field but the car felt great and this was my best race yet.”
A tough race and 21st-place finish for Drake Kemper (No. 99 Sick Sideways Racing) has lost him the provisional Global Mazda MX-5 Cup points lead. Rollan now leads Ortiz at the top of the Championship standings with Kemper falling to third.
The second half of the Mid-Ohio double-header is slated for 8:55 a.m. ET on Sunday, July 28. Round Eight of the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires will be streamed live on MazdaMotorsports.com.