MX-5: Team MER Road Atlanta preview

Team MER Readies For Mitty Challenge at Road Atlanta New crop of drivers contend for team's hunt for a fourth straight Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship CRESSON, TX (April 23, 2009) --- Team MER (Motorsport Enterprises Racing) looks to spend the 2009...

Team MER Readies For Mitty Challenge at Road Atlanta
New crop of drivers contend for team's hunt for a fourth straight Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship

CRESSON, TX (April 23, 2009) --- Team MER (Motorsport Enterprises Racing) looks to spend the 2009 season trying to continue their string of three consecutive championships in the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Series heading into the opening race at Road Atlanta next weekend. The team has entered seven drivers in "The Mitty" with a good mix of newcomers and veteran racers.

"We had an extremely strong team during the 2008 season and 2009 could easily rival the driving talent from last year," said team owner, Shannon McMasters. "The entire team has put a great deal of effort to provide all of our drivers with as much of a chance of winning races as possible. We hope the hard work in the off-season has paid off heading into the first race."

One staff member that will be making a debut behind the wheel is team engineer, Marc Miller. The driver has had an active role as lead engineer the past two seasons and will pilot the #28 Mazda Owners Club of America / RaceNowForAutism.org Mazda MX-5 while also continue to assist in the engineering and driver debrief roles. Miller spent time behind the wheel in 2008 of a Rotax-powered Birel racing kart, claiming the 2008 United States Rotax Max Championship. Three more promising rookie drivers join Team MER for 2009 as Nick Mancuso, Jeff Mosing and Zack Ply are signed on for the entire season.

Mancuso spent the 2008 season competing in the VW Jetta TDI Cup series. and was a co-driver in the E-1 class winning Team MER Mazda MX-5 at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. The driver was also elected the 2007 SCCA National Rookie of the Year after a bronze medal at the SCCA RunOffs.

Jeff Mosing joins MER with a background in shifterkart racing before spending a few seasons in SCCA and NASA competition. The Austin, TX native qualified 4th out of 60+ at the '08 NASA Championships in Spec Miata and co-drove to a 6th place finish in an E-1 prepared MER Mazda MX-5 at the 25-Hours of Thunderhill. Mosing and Miller share a common bond as both are fathers of an autistic child and will carry the RaceNowForAutism.org promotion during the 2009 season.

Zack Ply spent last season honing his craft in the SCCA FE championship (Formula Enterprises) as well as in RotaxMax kart racing. The driver from Joliet, IL finished a strong 2nd place at the 2008 SCCA June Sprint in the FE class, finished 6th in the RunOffs and wrapped up the season with an impressive 4th place finish in the Rotax DD2 class at the US Rotax Grand Nationals.

In addition to this new crop of rookie drivers, Team MER will have strong entries from Christopher Rhoades and Mark and Mike Jenkins. The Jenkins brothers scored several top 10 finishes in the MX-5 Cup series in 2008 and have been series regulars for two seasons. They will split time between Mazda MX-5 Cup and the Traxxas Off-Road Series in 2009.

Christopher Rhoades, a Dallas native, was recently accepted to Dartmouth College and will be campaigning in most of the 2009 championship with Team MER. Christopher is the youngest driver on the team at 18 years old, but has progressed very well in the past twelve months and recently scored several top-5 finishes in NASA Spec Miata and E-1 competition. He hopes to consistently be in contention for top-5 and top-10 finishes in 2009.

The team has already been active in testing with the help of former champions Jason Saini and Eric Foss.

"We've been working with all our drivers testing here at MSR and running club races where possible," said Saini. "We've got a new tire and brake pads are open this year - so we're adjusting to these changes and working hard to maximize the cars. I regret that Eric Foss and I won't be able to be at the first two races due to our Speed Touring Car schedule, but we'll be on the phone constantly helping where we can and checking up on what we hope to be another successful Team MER outing."

Quotes:

Marc Miller --#28 Mazda Owners Club of America / MER / RaceNowForAutism.org Mazda MX-5:

"Having the opportunity to take what I have learned from everyone at this team the past few years and try to apply it as a driver has been a goal of mine from the beginning. I am extremely thankful to Shannon, Jason and the entire MER team to be placed in a role that both Eric Foss and Jason before him did so well."

Jeff Mosing --#26 RaceNowForAutism.org / Frank's International Mazda MX-5:

"My goal at Atlanta is to have a good clean start to the season. A top-10 finish in my debut race would be awesome, but having fun is also very high on my agenda. After testing with MER the past couple of months, I feel both of these goals will be attainable."

Zack Ply --#27 Insight Beverage Mazda MX-5

"I am putting forth my very best effort to develop into a contender this season. This series has a great level of competition but I am already very comfortable with Team MER and have learned a lot in a short period of time.

-credit: team mer

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Jason Saini , Nick Mancuso , Eric Foss , Jeff Mosing , Marc Miller