MX-5: Series Birmingham round five preview

MX-5 Cup Hits Halfway Mark at Barber Motorsports Park TOPEKA, Kan. (July 16, 2009) -- As the battle for the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship heats up, so do the temperatures, with a trek south to Birmingham, Ala., and Barber...

MX-5 Cup Hits Halfway Mark at Barber Motorsports Park

TOPEKA, Kan. (July 16, 2009) -- As the battle for the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship heats up, so do the temperatures, with a trek south to Birmingham, Ala., and Barber Motorsports Park. Round Five of the MX-5 Cup, part of the Porsche 250 Presented by Legacy Credit Union weekend, marks the series' first visit to Barber Motorsports Park, as well as the halfway point of the 2009 season.

Like every good story, there are two sides to the MX-5 Cup point standings at the moment. The first is that Marc Miller, driver of the No. 28 MOCA/Race Now For Autism/Sparco MX-5 leads the Championship by 26 points over Justin Piscitell. Miller scored his first win of the season in his MX-5 Cup debut at Road Atlanta, and has finished second in the last three races. The other story comes to life when you look closely at who Miller has finished second to all three times: Todd Lamb. The No. 84 AMG/Traqmate/Luna-C Racing MX-5 pilot won Rounds Two, Three and Four from the pole, but as he missed the season opener, he is only fourth in the current rankings.

Luckily for Lamb, MX-5 Cup rules allow each driver to drop their lowest scoring race from the final point total. If we were to factor in drops at this point, Lamb would actually be leading Miller by 14 points. This, combined with the fact that Lamb is one of the few drivers in the MX-5 Cup field with considerable experience at Barber might be troublesome to Miller, but the Team MER driver enters the weekend ready to defend his point lead.

"I feel confident in our team and myself to get up to speed quickly at Barber," Miller said. "I take to new situations well, such as Mazda Raceway and New Jersey Motorsports Park, which I had never been to. I'm always up for a challenge."

Lamb will have his hands full this weekend. While he fights to take his fourth-consecutive MX-5 Cup win, Lamb will also be competing in the KONI Challenge race, not that pulling double duty ever phased him. At Mazda Raceway, he won the MX-5 race and finished second in KONI Challenge.

"It will be a busy weekend for me, with both races on Sunday," Lamb said. "I know Barber really well and we have the opportunity to tie for the longest win streak in the series, so we expect to be contending for another win."

MAZDASPEED ladder driver Justin Piscitell continues to put on some impressive performances in his No. 89 DAMGRacing/Mazdaspeed/ALARA MX-5. The 20-year old is three for four in podium appearances, but is still seeking his first race win. Holding onto second in the Championship, Piscitell is the highest ranked of the ALARA drivers. Though teammates Ara Malkhassian (No. 11 ALARA Racing MX-5) and Lyonel Kent (No. 13 Alara Racing/eData Solutions MX-5) have had some positive results in qualifying, they've yet to convert it into a podium finishes.

Zach Ply, in the No. 27 Insight Beverage Co. MX-5, is also in search of his first trip to the podium. He's come close twice, with top fives at Mazda Raceway and New Jersey Motorsports Park. His solid results have placed him behind Piscitell in the point standings.

Stan Wilson is putting Hale Motorsports on target for its best MX-5 Cup season yet. The 2007 SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Rookie of the Year is currently fifth in the point standings, with only one finish outside the top 10 this year.

It's crunch time for all the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup teams. With Barber Motorsports Park marking the halfway point of the season, Championship contenders need to make their presence known now, and avoid getting left behind in the points. It will be a tough task this weekend however, racing at a course MX-5 has never been to before. This sounds like the recipe for some close and dicey racing. Follow the entire race weekend at www.mx-5cup.com.

-credit: scca pro racing

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Series SCCA
Drivers Stan Wilson , Ara Malkhassian , Todd Lamb , Justin Piscitell , Lyonel Kent , Marc Miller