MX-5: Series Utah series finale preview

It's title time for the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup during its fifth visit in as many years to Miller Motorsports Park. With 128 Championship Points available this weekend (two races and qualifying sessions, MX-5 Cup points award 60...

It's title time for the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup during its fifth visit in as many years to Miller Motorsports Park.

With 128 Championship Points available this weekend (two races and qualifying sessions, MX-5 Cup points award 60 for a win, 2 points for a pole, and a single point for leading a lap and leading the most laps for a maximum of 64 per race), the top nine drivers in the Championship are mathematically still alive.

The realistic title hopes, however, hinge on three drivers.

Brad Rampelberg, in the No. 4 AMG Racing/Mazda/Cobalt Brakes MX-5, now holds the championship lead after teammate Michael Cooper, in the No. 84 AMG Racing/Bromante Landscaping and Design MX-5, and Justin Piscitell, in the No. 89 Team MER/DAMG Worldwide Mazda MX-5, made contact and fell to the end of the field and out of contention in the early laps in Round Nine at Mosport. Cooper was penalized an additional 10 points for his role in the incident, but when Rampelberg went on to a race win it took the wind out of the sails of the other two Championship contenders.

Entering this weekend's season-ending doubleheader, Rampelberg (with 483 points) now holds a 17 point advantage over Piscitell (466), with Cooper (454) trailing by 29 points. MX-5 Cup rules allow one "mulligan" for drivers, who drop their lowest point-scoring event. Boosted by his five wins on the season, the standings after drops boost Rampelberg's advantage to 22 over Piscitell, 455-433, with Cooper still 29 points in arrears of the top spot.

No matter the position, every point counts in the final weekend's races. Nick Evans, driving No. 28 Mazda/Team MER/Sparco Mazda MX-5, leads six drivers who are currently battling for fourth (or higher, if bad luck strikes any or all of the championship leaders). Before the dropped race, Evans holds the point in the second group. While he sits 71 points behind the leader, his margin to fifth-place Jesse Combs in the No. 77 ALARA Racing/coolgas.com MX-5 is just eight points, 412-404.

Mark Carpenter, driving the No. 14 AMG/GGS Technical Publications MX-5, is just 17 points out of the fourth position. That puts him just ahead of a pair of ALARA Racing teammates battling for the same bit of real estate, Ara Malkhassian (25 points behind Evans), in the No. 11 ALARA Racing/Bulldog Productions MX-5, and Lyonel Kent (27 points behind Evans), in the No. 13 ALARA Racing/Bulldog Productions MX-5. Kent is a race winner this season, while Malkhassian has a pair of runner-ups. Both could be contenders for a win on the fast track at Miller.

Jeff Mosing (No. 30 Frank's International/RaceNowForAutism MX-5) is coming off his career-best finish of fourth at Mosport and remains in touch with the secondary pack, trailing Evans by 34 points for fourth. Tim Probert (No. 26 ALARA Racing MX-5) and Kristine Craine (No. 39 Pinktop Racing MX-5) are both battling to finish in the top-10 in the Championship, with just seven points separating the two with the pair of races remaining.

The beauty of running a spec-series is that driver talent really has a chance to shine through. In MX-5 Cup, however, the additional alluring aspect is the car; the nimble, dependable and undeniably fun Mazda MX-5.

Mechanically, all MX-5 Cup cars will remain essentially stock, as delivered from the dealer, with only bolt-on modifications to the intake and exhaust systems. While the stock MX-5 Miata produces 170 hp, an MX-5 Cup car will produce in excess of 200 hp. All MX-5 Cup vehicles will be equipped with a six-speed manual transmission and may be run with the optionally available limited-slip rear differential.

Suspension will incorporate a fully-adjustable coil-over kit with double-adjustable shock absorbers and specified spring rates, as well as adjustable anti-roll bars front and rear. All cars will run a 17x8" wheel of a specified weight -- again, to level the field and minimize costs, as well as the spec BFGoodrich g-Force R1 Tire. Additionally, brake pads, fluid and lines will be upgraded to racing components.

All MX-5 Cup cars will run with full safety equipment, including an eight-point roll-cage welded into the car, a racing seat, racing seatbelts and will incorporate a fire-extinguishing system.

-source: scca pro racing

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Series SCCA
Drivers Nick Evans , Brad Rampelberg , Ara Malkhassian , Tim Probert , Jesse Combs , Justin Piscitell , Michael Cooper , Jeff Mosing , Lyonel Kent