Koch, Dean, Cooper fastest Miatas in Houston

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Qualifying set for Saturday morning

Kenton Koch, John Dean (in photo) and Michaell Cooper led SCCA Pro Racing Mazda Miata MX-5 Cup practice at the Shell Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston on Friday.

Koch, of Glendora, California, set the fastest time in practice two in the lead up to Round Five of the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires, part of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston at NRG Park. John Dean, of Sebring, Florida, and Michael Cooper, of Syossett, New York, completed the top three positions.

In his No. 12 ALARA Racing/Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5, Koch finished the 30-minute practice session with a best lap of 1:22.855 (73.864 mph). That time is faster than the existing track record, but Koch feels like there is still some time to be found on course.

“I feel really good right now,” Koch said. “The car is incredibly solid. The ALARA guys put together a great car for this weekend. I’ve never driven a better car. Considering the changing conditions of a street course, it has been working flawlessly.

“With the experience ALARA Racing has, as they have been involved in the series since the beginning, it gives me a huge boost. The bottom line is that I had a lot of fun during that session and am really comfortable right now.”

Dean brought the No. 16 Projections Research/PPG MX-5 back to the paddock after claiming the second position with a 1:23.398 (73.387 mph). After some mid-session adjustments, Dean is looking forward to moving forward with the race weekend.

“We went out with the same car with which we ended last session,” Dean said. “We were at a loss as to what to change since the car felt so good during the first practice. The car felt different this time. I’m not sure what changed, but we were still out on old tires. So, we’ll see what new rubber affects the handling.

“We made a change in the middle of the session that made the car feel better. A car that feels better is typically faster, so we are pretty optimistic going into qualifying.”

Cooper, driving the No. 48 Atlanta Motorsports Group MX-5, is showing why he is a former series Champion. Cooper clawed his way to third in practice two, with a fast time of 1:23.929 (72.918 mph). Cooper ran this track in a different series last year, making the learning curve less steep. However, learning what it takes to go fast in an MX-5 Cup car has taken a little adjustment.

“We’re working on some stuff,” Cooper said. “The track is interesting. I raced here last year, but it’s hard to translate the experience in a different class to these Cup cars.”

Lucas Catania, of Cazenovia, New York, stopped the clock at 1:24.422 (72.493 mph) in the No. 17 Atlanta Motorsports Group/NY Spine & Wellness/SOS MX-5. That time was good enough for the fourth position.

Completing the top five was Joey Bickers, of Moorpark, California, in the No. 29 Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5. He completed the second practice of the race weekend with a lap of 1:24.422 (72.493 mph), a dead heat for fourth with Catania.

In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Ben Albano, of Greenwich, Connecticut, was at the top of the class. He set a fast lap of 1:25.617 (71.481 mph) in his No. 61 Project Yellow Light SBMX-5. Albano is looking to keep his momentum going heading into the rest of the weekend.

“Consistency is going to be key as we progress through the weekend,” Albano said. “The BFGoodrich tires and Hawk Performance brakes have held up really well. It’s just a matter of conserving the car and not pushing the car past its limit. It’s so easy to overdrive the car, especially on a circuit like this. I can’t give enough credit to the brake and tire manufacturers for their products.

“The key to being fast on this course in maximizing the roll speed through the corner and using as much of the track as you can without hitting the wall.”

Drake Kemper, of Toluca Lake, California, clocked a lap of 1:25.706 (71.407 mph). That put him in the second position in his No. 99 Royal Rugby SBMX-5. Robby Foley, of Randolph, New Jersey, claimed the third position with a lap of 1:25.948 (71.205 mph).

The SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires hits the track for qualifying Saturday, at 8:30 a.m. (CDT), with Round Five starting at 12:10 p.m. (CDT). Round Six is slated to take place on Sunday, at noon (CDT).

RESULTS

HOUSTON - Results from Practice Session Two for Saturday's SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires Round Five race, part of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, with position, class, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.

1, MX, (12), Kenton Koch(R), Glendora, Calif., MX-5, 1:22.855, 73.864.

2, MX, (16), John Dean II, Sebring, Fla., MX-5, 1:23.393, 73.387.

3, MX, (48), Michael Cooper, Syossett, N.Y., MX-5, 1:23.929, 72.918.

4, MX, (17), Lucas Catania(R), Cazenovia, N.Y., MX-5, 1:24.422, 72.493.

5, MX, (29), Joey Bickers(R), Moorpark, Calif., MX-5, 1:24.422, 72.493.

6, MX, (8), Nathanial Sparks, Spanish Fort, Ala., MX-5, 1:24.487, 72.437.

7, MX, (6), Timothy Paul(R), Mahopac, N.Y., MX-5, 1:24.489, 72.435.

8, MX, (49), Sebastian Landy, Great Falls, Va., MX-5, 1:24.702, 72.253.

9, MX, (28), Patrick Gallagher, Thornville, Ohio, MX-5, 1:24.802, 72.168.

10, MX, (11), Ara Malkhassian, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:24.963, 72.031.

11, MX, (35), Devin Jones(R), Mooresville, N.C., MX-5, 1:24.964, 72.030.

12, MX, (19), Timothy Reger(R), Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:25.212, 71.820.

13, MX, (20), Chris Haldeman(R), Princeton, Texas, MX-5, 1:25.699, 71.412.

14, MX, (51), Austin Snader(R), Brookshire, Texas, MX-5, 1:25.773, 71.351.

15, MX, (27), Brandon Kidd, Manlius, N.Y., MX-5, 1:27.357, 70.057.

16, MX, (23), Christian Tetzlaff, Athens, Ga., MX-5, 1:27.391, 70.030.

17, MX, (79), Spencer Patterson(R), Pittsburgh, Pa., MX-5, 1:27.525, 69.922.

18, MX, (18), Joseph Catania(R), Cazenovia, N.Y., MX-5, 1:27.626, 69.842.

19, MX, (34), Christian Szymczak, Palos Verdes, Calif., MX-5, no time.

1, SBMX, (61), Ben Albano, Greenwich, Conn., SB MX-5, 1:25.617, 71.481.

2, SBMX, (99), Drake Kemper, Toluca Lake, Calif., SB MX-5, 1:25.706, 71.407.

3, SBMX, (93), Robby Foley, Randolph, N.J., SB MX-5, 1:25.948, 71.205.

4, SBMX, (60), Zach Lee, San Antonio, Texas, SB MX-5, 1:26.552, 70.709.

5, SBMX, (63), Bryan Hixon, San Antonio, Texas, SB MX-5, 1:26.595, 70.673.

6, SBMX, (94), Sarah Montgomery, Lafayette, La., SB MX-5, 1:27.445, 69.986.

7, SBMX, (65), Felix Borodaty, Short Hills, N.J., SB MX-5, 1:31.487, 66.894.

Houston – Combined results from practice for Saturday's SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires Round Five race, part of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, with position, class, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.

1, MX, (12), Kenton Koch(R), Glendora, Calif., MX-5, 1:22.855, 73.864.

2, MX, (16), John Dean II, Sebring, Fla., MX-5, 1:23.393, 73.387.

3, MX, (34), Christian Szymczak, Palos Verdes, Calif., MX-5, 1:23.456, 73.332.

4, MX, (48), Michael Cooper, Syossett, N.Y., MX-5, 1:23.929, 72.918.

5, MX, (17), Lucas Catania(R), Cazenovia, N.Y., MX-5, 1:24.422, 72.493.

6, MX, (29), Joey Bickers(R), Moorpark, Calif., MX-5, 1:24.422, 72.493.

7, MX, (8), Nathanial Sparks, Spanish Fort, Ala., MX-5, 1:24.487, 72.437.

8, MX, (6), Timothy Paul(R), Mahopac, N.Y., MX-5, 1:24.489, 72.435.

9, MX, (49), Sebastian Landy, Great Falls, Va., MX-5, 1:24.702, 72.253.

10, MX, (28), Patrick Gallagher, Thornville, Ohio, MX-5, 1:24.802, 72.168.

11, MX, (11), Ara Malkhassian, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:24.963, 72.031.

12, MX, (35), Devin Jones(R), Mooresville, N.C., MX-5, 1:24.964, 72.030.

13, MX, (19), Timothy Reger(R), Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:25.212, 71.820.

14, MX, (20), Chris Haldeman(R), Princeton, Texas, MX-5, 1:25.699, 71.412.

15, MX, (51), Austin Snader(R), Brookshire, Texas, MX-5, 1:25.773, 71.351.

16, MX, (27), Brandon Kidd, Manlius, N.Y., MX-5, 1:27.357, 70.057.

17, MX, (23), Christian Tetzlaff, Athens, Ga., MX-5, 1:27.391, 70.030.

18, MX, (79), Spencer Patterson(R), Pittsburgh, Pa., MX-5, 1:27.525, 69.922.

19, MX, (18), Joseph Catania(R), Cazenovia, N.Y., MX-5, 1:27.626, 69.842.

1, SBMX, (61), Ben Albano, Greenwich, Conn., SB MX-5, 1:25.617, 71.481.

2, SBMX, (99), Drake Kemper, Toluca Lake, Calif., SB MX-5, 1:25.706, 71.407.

3, SBMX, (93), Robby Foley, Randolph, N.J., SB MX-5, 1:25.948, 71.205.

4, SBMX, (60), Zach Lee, San Antonio, Texas, SB MX-5, 1:26.552, 70.709.

5, SBMX, (63), Bryan Hixon, San Antonio, Texas, SB MX-5, 1:26.595, 70.673.

6, SBMX, (94), Sarah Montgomery, Lafayette, La., SB MX-5, 1:27.445, 69.986.

7, SBMX, (65), Felix Borodaty, Short Hills, N.J., SB MX-5, 1:31.487, 66.894

SCCA

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Series SCCA-PRO
Article type Practice report
Tags houston, mazda miata, shell penzoil