MX-5: Utah penultimate round preview

Daniels Looks to Capture Inaugural MX-5 Cup Championship at Miller Motorsports Park TOOELE, Utah (Aug. 31, 2006) -- Current SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Hankook point leader Jim Daniels, of Germantown,...

Daniels Looks to Capture Inaugural MX-5 Cup Championship at Miller Motorsports Park

TOOELE, Utah (Aug. 31, 2006) -- Current SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Hankook point leader Jim Daniels, of Germantown, Tenn., has dominated the MX-5 Cup series this season and can clinch the inaugural drivers' championship with a third place finish at this weekend's penultimate Round Seven race at Miller Motorsports Park, as part of the Discount Tire Sunchaser event weekend.

Driving his No. 76 saferacer.com/Team MER Mazda MX-5, Daniels is coming off three consecutive wins, including winning four of the last five races. He also has five podium finishes in six attempts.

"I've got to tell you, I am a little nervous," Daniels said of his prospects for winning the championship. "We broke a transmission yesterday [during the promoter test day session] and had to put a new transmission in the car for today. So, it [the championship] is not over by any means. We've got to finish this race. I am really hoping to finish in the top five here, then go to Road America and have a solid top five finish there and wrap it up.

"There is a lot of pressure to do well. The tails can turn so fast. It could easily be that I don't qualify well and get caught up in something during the race. So, there is a lot of pressure and I am a little nervous. But, we came to race and that is what I am going to do."

While Daniels might be outwardly nervous, his strategy this weekend is not to hold anything back in pursuit of his first championship. Much like he has done all season, Daniels won't be driving conservatively, but rather he is going to push for the win.

"I am not one to hold back," Daniels said. "I am going to try to win this race and try to win the next one. That is what we do this for. We are running for a piece of wood. This is for braggin' rights. So my strategy is going to be to do what I've done all year."

Miller Motorsports Park will provide a new challenge for many of the drivers with its 24-turn, 4.5-mile configuration. Most of the drivers have had little or no time to learn the track, which should prove to be quite challenging for even the most seasoned drivers, like former SCCA SPEED World Challenge Champion and Miller Motorsports Park Director of Racing Mitch Wright. Wright is driving in the MX-5 Cup race this weekend and despite his association with the track he does not feel he has a home track advantage.

"I don't know about that," Wright said of his potential home track advantage. "There are a lot of fast guys here and a lot of guys who have spent a lot of time in these cars. So even given my knowledge of the race track and obviously doing some laps around it, I don't know if it is going to pay any dividends or not."

"I got to tell you, I don't know if anyone is going to get it all figured out," Daniels said of the largest track in North America. "But, we've got a good handle on it. We went pretty quick. But, it was the strangest thing, it took a full hour to know where you were. It kept feeling like you were fixin' to make a left on the front straightaway and you still had another mile of track to go through.

Despite not having driven competitively since 1996, Wright is looking forward to this weekend's race.

"It's going to be fun," Wright said. "I've done a few laps in the car and the car feels great. It is a big difference between the MX-5 and one of our drivers' school cars. The MX-5 has a ton of grip and it is a momentum car compared to our school cars. But, it is getting back to the basics."

Practice sessions for the Round Seven race are scheduled for 3 p.m. (MDT) and 7:15 p.m. (MDT) today. A third practice session will begin at 9:30 a.m., with qualifying set for noon (MDT), Friday, Sept. 1. Round Seven starts at 10:15 a.m. (MDT), Saturday, Sept. 2.

To follow qualifying and race action from Miller Motorsports Park live via live timing, visit www.mx-5cup.com and click on the Miller event page link.

-scca pro racing-

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Series SCCA-PRO