MX-5: Series VIR round 10 qualifying notes

Miller Earns First MX-5 Cup Pole at VIR ALTON, Va. (Oct. 4, 2009) -- Former Virginia resident Marc Miller, who now resides in Holland, Mich., claimed his very first SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup pole position today at VIRginia ...

Miller Earns First MX-5 Cup Pole at VIR

ALTON, Va. (Oct. 4, 2009) -- Former Virginia resident Marc Miller, who now resides in Holland, Mich., claimed his very first SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup pole position today at VIRginia International Raceway in preparation for the series 2009 season finale. Lyonel Kent, of Powell, Tenn., will start second in Sunday's Round 10 race, part of the Bosch Engineering Octoberfest weekend.

Driving the No. 28 Team MER/MOCA/Race Now for Autism/MMP MX-5, Miller worked the draft with his teammates around the 17-turn, 3.27-mile course to enter a new MX-5 Cup qualifying lap record of 2:12.764 (88.668 mph). The lap came right before a brief red flag period, which was issued when the No. 09 Rossini Racing MX-5 of Manny DaSilva rolled and made contact with the wall in Turn 11. DaSilva was uninjured in the incident and qualifying resumed with roughly 10 minutes remaining.

"I've won a race, finished second a lot, qualified in the top three a lot, but this is the first pole," Miller said. "I felt like we had a car to do it yesterday, but because of the way the track is so draft dependent, it's hard to get that magic lap. I really worked with my teammates a lot and right when we got the tires warm I put in one good, solid lap. Then, the red flag came out and that gave us a break. When we went back out I backed it up with another lap that was within a tenth, so I know that the car is as good as it was yesterday. Unfortunately, when we started at the back, it was tough to work our way up to the lead pack. Today, I think we have a good shot at winning. I can't thank the team enough. The car was so easy to drive."

A former resident of Smith Moutain Lake, Va., Miller is especially pleased to take his first pole position at a "home" track.

"I do consider this a homecoming a little bit, because, just over an hour away I spent 15 years of my life fishing, boating and swimming," Miller reminisced. "I actually started racing down here on a dirt oval track in stock cars when I was 14 and 15. It's one of those situations where I come back and the environment feels very normal and friendly. It does feel a little like home and it feels good to get the pole here for sure."

Miller had qualified sixth for Saturday's Round Nine race, but was sent to the back of the grid when his car failed technical inspection. The two points awarded for pole position are crucial for Miller, who needs to score maximum points today to have a shot at taking the MX-5 Cup Championship. Miller also needs current point leader Todd Lamb to not finish this afternoon's race.

"I have no weight on my shoulders because no one expects me to beat Lamb and no one expects me to win the race," Miller said. b^0x001cI'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing and hopefully I won't see [Lamb] coming up through the pack. We want to win another one. It would be a good end to the season on a winning note, but whatever happens after that, happens. All we're concerned about is winning the race and if we get enough luck in the form of bad luck for others, then so be it. Right now, our job is to win this race."

After collecting his first MX-5 Cup podium finish in Saturday's race, Kent will start the final race of the season from second on the grid. Kent clocked a 2:13.498 (88.181 mph) in the No. 13 ALARA Racing/eData Solutions MX-5.

Max Riddle, of Vancouver, B.C, qualified a career-high third. The driver of the No. 6 AMG MX-5 qualified at a 2:13.585 (88.123 mph).

Driving the No. 11 ALARA Racing MX-5, Ara Malkhassian, of Sonoma, Calif., qualified fourth with a lap of 2:13.613 (88.105 mph).

Lamb, the current Championship point leader from Atlanta, Ga., qualified fifth in the No. 84 AMG Racing/Traqmate/Luna-C Racing MX-5. The driver with eight-consecutive wins on the season stopped the clock with a 2:13.651 (88.080 mph).

Nick Mancuso set a qualifying lap equal to that of Lamb, but Lamb won the tiebreaker for having the better second-fastest lap time of the 30-minute session. Mancuso will start Round 10 from sixth on the grid.

Todd Buras, Ryan Ellis, Mark Jenkins and Dennis Bize completed the top 10 in qualifying.

The 10th, and final, race of the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup season will go green at 4:15 p.m. (EDT) today. Live timing and lap notes are available at MX-5 Cup is also available on Twitter

-credit: scca pro racing

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Series SCCA
Drivers Ara Malkhassian , Todd Lamb , Todd Buras , Nick Mancuso , Ryan Ellis , Dennis Bize , Lyonel Kent , Marc Miller , Max Riddle