Nine finalists for MX-5 Cup Shootout at Road Atlanta

Images via Mazda Motorsports

Nine finalists for MX-5 Cup Shootout at Road Atlanta

Mazda MX-5 Cup

Nine finalists for MX-5 Cup Shootout at Road Atlanta

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The 2020 Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires Championship came to a close at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, but there is still one competition left: the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Cup season isn’t officially finished until a new Shootout winner is crowned.

2020 marks the 15th year of the Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout, which will take place November 16–17 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Nine drivers who found success racing Mazdas on a grassroots level will compete to earn a scholarship valued at $110,000 to put toward the 2021 Mazda MX-5 Cup season.

Two additional scholarships have been added to this year’s program: the runner-up will receive a scholarship valued at $75,000 toward Mazda MX-5 Cup racing, plus a female racer will be selected to take home another scholarship valued at $75,000.

Last year’s winner, Jared Thomas, went on to win this year’s MX-5 Cup Rookie of the Year title, and the 2018 winner, Michael Carter, was crowned series champion a few short weeks ago.

“Without winning the shootout I would never have made it into the MX-5 Cup series, much less be the 2020 champion,” Carter said. “Mazda does such amazing things for racers like me and it is awesome to see the tradition continue year after year.

“After attending the shootout in 2016, I took what I learned from that experience and the next couple of years of racing and decided to make a push for the 2018 shootout,” Carter continued. I was unsure about the decision at first because of just starting college, but it has obviously all turned out for the best. I would simply not be where I am today without winning the 2018 Shootout.”

This year’s nine finalists were chosen from a group of 31 nominees, all top performers from SCCA Club Racing, the NASA Teen Mazda Challenge or the Spec MX-5 Challenge Series. Nominees submitted written and video applications to earn their spot in the Shootout.

Aaron Jeansonne makes his second-straight appearance at the MX-5 Cup Shootout and Hannah Grisham returns after her first try in 2018.

Second-generation Mazda racer Aidan Fassnacht is the youngest of the finalists at 17, while Michael Borden, who turns 34 only a few days after the Shootout, represents the oldest.

Another second-generation Mazda racer, Konrad Czaczyk, recently finished second in Spec Miata at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs.

Bryce Cornet just made the transition to Spec Miata in October after many years of success in Formula Mazda. Another newcomer to sportscars is Chris Nunes, who arrived in Spec Miata after years of off-road racing.

Tyler Quance is fresh off of a runner-up finish in the Spec MX-5 Challenge Championship. He was separated by one point on both sides by MX-5 Cup regulars Justin Piscitell and Drake Kemper.

Savanna Little was the recipient of the 2020 Mazda Spec MX-5 Pentathlon Scholarship, which enabled her to take part in her first season of Spec MX-5 Challenge.

The finalists will be evaluated by a panel of judges in three areas, fitness, interviews and track performance, all of which will take place at Road Atlanta.

Series partner Flis Performance will be on site with three MX-5 Cup cars plus engineers and data analysts. Flis has prepared bespoke liveries for the three machines that celebrate the tradition of Mazda Motorsports while also bringing a ‘clean sheet’ design as the series readies for a new era in partnership with IMSA starting in 2021. Flis will also manage the ballasting process for the cars to ensure the kind of parity the series is known for.

Presenting sponsor BFGoodrich Tires will also be on hand, providing support for the on-track activity as well as one set of tires per driver.

The MX-5 Cup Shootout Scholarship winners will be announced at the close of the competition on Tuesday, Nov. 17. Follow MX-5 Cup on Twitter (@GlobalMX5Cup), Facebook (Mazda MX-5 Cup) and Instagram (@GlobalMX5Cup) for the latest updates.

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