MX-5 Cup: Houston qualifying notes

Sixteen-Year-Old Smrz Grabs Mazda MX-5 Cup Pole at Houston HOUSTON, Texas (April 21, 2007) -- Sixteen-year-old Brett Smrz, of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, captured pole for tonight's opening round of the SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda...

Sixteen-Year-Old Smrz Grabs Mazda MX-5 Cup Pole at Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (April 21, 2007) -- Sixteen-year-old Brett Smrz, of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, captured pole for tonight's opening round of the SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup at the Grand Prix of Houston. Teammate Jason Saini, of Fort Worth, Texas, will complete the front row.

In his first-ever Mazda MX-5 Cup appearance, Smrz, who just turned 16 in February, climbed to the top of the timing sheets early in the 25-minute qualifying session. The former karting champion wheeled his No. 29 AutismSpeaks.org/SafeRacer.com Mazda MX-5 to a time of 1:24.177 (71.977 mph) at the 10-turn, 1.683-mile JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park.

"It feels awesome," Smrz said of his first pole. "We tested with Team MER a lot at MSR and testing went great. We struggled a little bit in the beginning [here], but ended up pulling it out.

"I've been doing three years of go-karting. I was the Stars of Karting East and West JICA Champion last year. Definitely the suspension [is the biggest difference from karting]. It's a whole different story. You have to take a whole different line, the throttle input -- everything is different."

Starting alongside Smrz tonight will be fellow MER teammate Saini, who paced yesterday's night practice. Saini shed more than a second off of his practice times to qualify his No. 28 Autobarn Mazda/Saferacer.com Mazda MX-5 second on the grid with a time of 1:24.233 (71.977 mph).

Starting third is the No. 80 Jason Hoover Motorsports/Hooverspeed Mazda MX-5 of Matt Cross, of Folsom, Calif., who clocked a fast time of 1:24.312 (71.861 mph).

Driving the No. 30 Team MER/AimSport/Pinnacle Mazda MX-5, Andrew Caddell, of Graham, Wash., turned a fast lap of 1:24.629 (71.592 mph), good enough for fourth on the grid. He is followed by Ara Malkhassian, of Sonoma, Calif., who slotted his No. 11 Alara Racing Mazda MX-5 into fifth on the grid with a time of 1:24.937 (71.332 mph).

Jesse Combs, John C. Kuitwaard, Pratt Cole, Ben McCrackin and Tim Probert completed the top ten.

The first race of the 2007 MX-5 Cup season goes green at 8:45 p.m. (CDT) today under the lights of JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park.

Log on to www.mx-5cup.com for full event coverage, including live timing and lap notes.

-credit: scca pro racing

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Pratt Cole , Ara Malkhassian , Tim Probert , Ben McCrackin , Jason Saini , Andrew Caddell , Brett Smrz , Jesse Combs
Teams Alara Racing