MX-5: Series finale Laguna Seca preview

California Dreaming: MX-5 Cup Season Closes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca MONTEREY, Calif. (Oct. 17, 2008) -- The third season of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup comes to an end this weekend at the very spot the series made its...

California Dreaming: MX-5 Cup Season Closes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

MONTEREY, Calif. (Oct. 17, 2008) -- The third season of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup comes to an end this weekend at the very spot the series made its debut: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Though it's Eric Foss' Championship to lose heading to Monterey, the remaining positions in the point standings are likely to undergo a big shuffle by the time the checkered flag waves.

With 407 points to Todd Buras' 349 points, all Foss needs to do is complete half of the laps in the Round Eight race on Sunday, thus being classified as a finisher, to earn the 2008 MX-5 Cup Championship. Considering Foss has yet to finish any lower than fourth in the No. 28 Team MER/Autobarn Mazda MX-5, this should pose no problem.

Buras' position in the point standings is not as secure as Foss'. The driver of the No. 56 Hooverspeed/pancreaticcure.org MX-5 has only four points on the most recent race winner, Robert Huffmaster. After starting the season off so strong, Buras' season has hit a bit of a slump after finishing outside the top five two races in-a-row. Weighing on Buras' mind just as heavily this weekend is the elusive win he is chasing. Having not stood on the top step of the podium since 2006, Buras is hoping to cap the 2008 season off with a victory.

Huffmaster has the right momentum to catch Buras in the points. Driving the No. 27 Team MER/Huffmaster Co. MX-5, Huffmaster finish second in Round Six at Miller Motorsports Park and won the most recent Round at New Jersey Motorsports Park. With more Hawk Hot Laps than any other driver (three), Huffmaster will be tough to catch at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. His teammate, Ryan Schimsk, is hoping he can though. Schimsk is only six points back from Huffmaster, who he stood on the podium in New Jersey. Schimsk has won already this year in the No. 81 Team MER/Airco Mechanical MX-5, at Road America. If he can master a course like that in his first-ever visit, he should contend for a win this weekend.

Currently fifth in the Drivers' Championship, Ara Malkhassian is also within striking distance of a runner-up finish in the points. After a slow start to the season, Malkhassian has hit his stride, finishing the last three races in the top five. This track hasn't been as kind to him in seasons past, finishing seventh in his last two visits. He'll be aiming higher this weekend, so his name might follow Foss in the standings at the end of the weekend.

A technical disqualification in Round Seven hurt Brad Rampelberg's chances at a Championship, but he still has a shot at finishing second in the point standings. Hailing from nearby San Jose, Rampelberg will be the hometown favorite this weekend and probably has more laps around Mazda Raceway than any other driver in the field. It would a surprise if his No. 14 Hooverspeed/Mazda/Patron Tequila MX-5 wasn't at the front of the field this weekend.

Randy Hale might not have even made the trip to California had it not been for a phone call from his friend and SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge racer Sonny Whelen. Apparently Whelen didn't want to let a season slip by without a racing at Mazda Raceway and luckily, Hale had some rental cars available. Whelen is bringing his World Challenge teammate Eric Curran along for the ride, so keep your eyes on the No. 30 and No. 31 cars to see how they fare in their first-ever MX-5 Cup race.

All good things must coming to an end, and for the 2008 SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup season, that end begins with two rounds of practice on Friday and an early morning qualifying session on Saturday. The season concludes at 11:25 a.m. (PDT) on Sunday with the final 45-minute race of the year. Live timing and lap notes will be available at www.mx-5cup.com. Round Eight will air on Dish Network DIRECTV and regional cable sports networks the week of Nov. 10. Check your local listings or the MX-5 Cup Web site for broadcast times.

-credit: scca pro racing

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Eric Curran , Brad Rampelberg , Randy Hale , Ara Malkhassian , Sonny Whelen , Todd Buras , Eric Foss