MX-5 Cup: Portland race notes

Daniels Wins MX-5 Cup Round Five Race At Portland PORTLAND, Ore. (July 22, 2006) -- Jim Daniels, of Germantown, Tenn., was out for a Saturday afternoon drive as he drove flag-to-flag to capture his third SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio...

Daniels Wins MX-5 Cup Round Five Race At Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (July 22, 2006) -- Jim Daniels, of Germantown, Tenn., was out for a Saturday afternoon drive as he drove flag-to-flag to capture his third SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Hankook victory of the season. Daniels' Round Five victory was part of the Portland Grand Prix at Portland International Raceway. Local driver Brad McAllister, of Portland, Ore., finished second, 17.911-seconds behind Daniels.

Daniels, who retains the MX-5 cup point lead, got a great start in his No. 76 saferacer.com/Team MER Mazda MX-5 and led heading into Turn One on the first lap and never looked back, averaging 78.537 mph around the 12-turn, 1.964-mile circuit. In the previous four races in 2006, no margin of victory was greater than 0.174-second, making Daniels' win, by far, the most dominating in the series' short history.

"The car was just awesome," Daniels said. "I was like Sunday driving. The car felt great. Gary Bockman [the racewinner at Portland last year] was instrumental in this win today with his coaching."

All three of Daniels' victories have come from the pole position, including four podium finishes in five races. Daniels also won the Hawk Hot Lap award setting the race's fastest lap with a 1:29.053 (79.395 mph).

McAllister put on an impressive driving display in front of his home fans, as he knifed his No. 39 Nobel Biocare/American Lung Association Mazda MX-5 through the field from his seventh starting spot to finish a career-best second. McAllister spent four laps battling then second place Payton Wilson and, on lap 20, passed him between Turns Five and Six to give him his first podium finish of the season.

"There was a lot of action out there," McAllister said. "There was more bumping and pushing, and for a race that is supposed to be no contact, there sure looked like a lot of contact to me. I just kind of hung back and laid low for the first half of the race. I just let people do their thing. I think people used up their tires. A few people went off and that allowed me to slowly get a little bit closer and once we had some open track I was able to reel in a couple cars and end up in second place. Payton [Wilson] and I had a great time, two abreast in corner after corner. It was a blast."

McAllister won the Sunoco Hard Charger award for advancing five positions throughout the race.

At the start of the race, Wilson's No. 59 King Rat Motorsports/BSI Racing Mazda MX-5 fell from fifth to seventh on the first two laps, but was back in the top five by lap three. Wilson continued to follow Carlos Garcia, of Miami, Fla., Todd Buras, of Melbourne, Fla., and Jason Saini, of Fort Worth, Texas, as they were locked in an intense battle for positions three through five, and was ultimately the beneficiary of some driver miscues to advance to second by lap 13. But, Wilson gave the position to McAllister on lap 20 and went on finish third.

"I knew that we were going to have to stay together and not race each other to keep up with Jim [Daniels] and that just did not happen," Wilson said of the early part of the race. "All plans go out the window when the green flag drops. It got a little crazy the first few laps and then we kind of sorted it out, but then it got crazy again. In the meantime, Jim was checking out. We had a great battle with Brad [McAllister] back-and-forth. I was trying to keep him behind me. But, in the end, I just couldn't do it."

Pratt Cole, of Salt Lake City, finished fourth in his No. 88 DEX/Western Companies/Team MER Mazda MX-5, while Saini, finished fifth in his No. 28 Team MER/specmiata.com MX-5.

Daniels extended his point lead to 33 points (149) over Todd Buras (116), who finished 17th as the result of a broken shock on lap 13. Ara Malkhassian is third with 89 points, followed by Saini (87) and Deborah Loth (78).

For more information about the SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Hankook, including the Round Six event at Trois Rivieres, visit www.mx-5cup.com.

-scca pro racing-

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Series SCCA
Drivers Deborah Loth , Pratt Cole , Ara Malkhassian , Payton Wilson , Todd Buras , Carlos Garcia , Jim Daniels , Jason Saini