MX-5: Team MER Road Atlanta race notes

Team MER Scores 1-2 Finish At Mazda MX-5 Cup Opener Miller scores victory in his series debut followed by teammate Jenkins CRESSON, TX (May 7, 2009) --- Team MER driver, Marc Miller, won Round One of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup,...

Team MER Scores 1-2 Finish At Mazda MX-5 Cup Opener
Miller scores victory in his series debut followed by teammate Jenkins

CRESSON, TX (May 7, 2009) --- Team MER driver, Marc Miller, won Round One of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, part of the Classic Motorsports Magazine Walter Mitty Challenge at Road Atlanta. Mark Jenkins (Team MER/JBR) finished second to give the defending Mazda MX-5 Cup Champions a 1-2 finish to start off the season while also placing five cars in the top-8 positions.

Starting fifth, Miller played it cool in the opening laps to ensure his No. 28 Team MER/MazdaOCA/RaceForAutism.org MX-5 stayed in one piece for the full 22-lap, 55.58-mile race.

"I feel unbelievably ecstatic," Miller said. "I'm excited to be representing a team that my good friends [previous Champions] Jason [Saini] and Eric [Foss] have done such a good job representing over the last two years. I'm happy to have the opportunity to race and equally to have Race Now For Autism and the Mazda Owners Club of America on the car. I feel like this car represents a good group of people and it makes me feel extremely proud to get the win and get some exposure for them."

It was a three-way fight at the end for the lead between Miller, Jenkins and Piscitell, as the trio worked the draft around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course. With two laps to go, Miller was able to break free, crossing the line with a 2.474-second margin of victory.

Mark Jenkins, driver of the No. 25 Team MER/JBR/Traxxas/BFG/Simpson MX-5, started the race in third and led for several laps following the full-course caution, but dropped out of the top five with four laps remaining. Jenkins set the fastest lap of the race, a 1:42.517 (89.195 mph) in his charge back to the front.

"When I was up front for a good part of the race, I was trying to break free from the draft of the guys behind me," Jenkins said. "I was working the car pretty hard and I needed to back off of it a little bit, but I backed off too much and was right back in shark-infested waters. Someone caught me from behind at 10A and sent me for a ride, which put me further back, but I was able to work back up to second."

Currently in his third season of MX-5 cup, the runner-up finish was a career-high for Jenkins and his first-ever podium finish.

Mark Jenkin's brother Mike, of Fairview, Texas, also earned a career-best finish at Road Atlanta, finishing fourth in the No. 47 Team MER/JBR/Traxxas/BFG/Amsoil MX-5. Starting 10th, Jenkins earned the Carbotech Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions in the race.

Zach Ply finished sixth ahead in his series debut after qualifying in the 9th position in the No. 27 Insight Beverage Company MX-5.

Chris Rhoades finished a strong 8th place in the No. 33 ZebraAir MX5. The 18-year-old driver qualified in the 7th position and was shuffled back after his car was broad sided by the spinning car of Dean Copeland. He maintained his composure and drove back to his career-best finishing position.

Two drivers that were unable to finish the race due to on-track incidents were Jeff Mosing and Nick Mancuso (#29 Lake Forest Sports Cars/Tire LYNA MX5).

Mancuso qualified a strong 6th place, but was moved to the back of the grid due to a non-compliant part. The driver put in a stellar first lap that saw a 13-place improvement by turn five before a cut tire due to early contact forced contact with the wall.

Mosing was running in the top-10 but was victim of the same incident that caused damage to Rhoades car. Unfortunately, the damage to the right front of the No. 31 RaceNowForAutism.org/Frank's International MX5 ended his day early.

-credit: tmer

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Dean Copeland , Nick Mancuso , Jeff Mosing , Marc Miller