Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup offered by BFGoodrich Tires is returning to VIRginia Worldwide Raceway after a five-year absence for what might show to be the championship-deciding races of the season.
With a most of 380 factors obtainable in every race, the championship continues to be extensive open coming into VIR, however the identical can’t be mentioned leaving VIR; one unhealthy race or one dominating win might decide who’s in play for the $250,000 championship prize from Mazda within the finale at Michelin Raceway Street Atlanta.
Jared Thomas (No.96 JTR Motorsports Engineering) has been main the best way on the prime of the factors all season and enters the occasion with a 255-point benefit. However fellow MX-5 Cup veterans Gresham Wagner (No.5 Spark Efficiency) and Selin Rollan (No.87 Hixon Motor Sports activities) have been nipping at his heels all 12 months lengthy. A drive-through penalty for passing beneath yellow and the ensuing Twenty sixth-place end in race cne at Street America harm Thomas’ level lead, however will it show deadly in his hunt for the title?
“The VIR rounds undoubtedly might determine the championship, however I nonetheless suppose it should all come right down to Street Atlanta,” Thomas mentioned of the season finale.
Wagner, the defending MX-5 Cup Champion, has had a rocky 2022 season, however is slowly mounting a comeback. The Virginia-native is on house turf this weekend, though this will likely be his first MX-5 Cup race at VIR.
“Virginia has a few nice membership programs, and plenty of native brief ovals, however VIR is the one professional-level highway course within the state, and it’s undoubtedly the closest to me,” Wagner mentioned. “It’s nonetheless round a three-hour drive from house, however that’s so much nearer than anything on the schedule.
“For a very long time, VIR has been a go-to for shakedowns and testing, however the first time I ever raced there was earlier this 12 months within the SRO TC America collection. I used to be at all times a bit upset to see VIR depart the schedule simply as I began in MX-5 Cup, so I’m excited to have our collection again at VIR, each as a house race for me and as an incredible monitor in its personal proper.”
The rookies have turned up their sport within the second half of the season. Connor Zilisch (No.72 Hixon Motor Sports activities) swept the Street America weekend, profitable each races from pole. This propelled him to 3rd within the championship.
Joey Atanasio (No.43 Formidable Efficiency Improvement) has been a risk all season, however a disappointing weekend at Street America knocked him again to fifth within the championship, and second to Zilisch within the Rookie of the Yr standings. That honor comes with an $80,000 prize from Mazda on the finish of the 12 months.
Simply behind Atanasio within the factors is one other rookie, Bruno Carneiro (No.21 Hixon Motor Sports activities), who at all times finds himself operating on the entrance of the sector and if not for a DNF in race two at Street America could be within the championship prime 5.
A trio to keep watch over this weekend may very well be the three drivers who’ve earlier expertise on the monitor in MX-5 Cup competitors, Glenn McGee (No.23 JTR Motorsports Engineering), Rossi Lee (No.48 Spark Efficiency) and Alex Bachoura (No.33 Spark Efficiency).
Along with having two drivers on the crew with prior MX-5 Cup race expertise at VIR and the defending champion who calls Virginia house (Wagner), Spark Efficiency crew proprietor Nathanial Sparks is, the truth is, the final driver to win at VIR. He beat driver Chris Stone to the end line by an exciting 0.017-second in 2016.
The stage is about for 2 important races within the MX-5 Cup Championship. Race 1 is scheduled for 1:00pm ET on Saturday, August 27. Race 2 will go inexperienced at 10:30am ET on Sunday, August 27.
Each races will likely be streamed dwell on RACER.com and IMSA.com/tvlive.