MILLVILLE, N.J. –
Nick Evans, of Powell, Ohio, turned the fastest lap in SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup qualifying Sunday morning for the afternoon’s Round Six race at New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Mazda Motorsports Festival presented by VISITFLORIDA.com. With the fastest qualifying time in the 30-minute session, Evans will start at the front of the grid for the first-ever MX-5 Cup standing start.
Evans starts on pole for the first-ever MX-5 Cup standing start.
The standing start will be used for Sunday afternoon’s MX-5 Cup race, which typically uses a traditional rolling start to take the green flag. The standing start is currently planned for just one race, where it will be evaluated for the possibility of future use.
Evans turned his best lap of 1:34.729 (82.466 mph) on his second lap of the session at the 2.17-mile, 14-turn South Jersey circuit. For Evans, it was redemption for yesterday’s race, where transmission issues forced him out of the race after just eight laps and relegated him to 20th place.
“The car was great today,” Evans said. “It was great yesterday, too, and we just had a transmission problem in the race and I couldn’t get fifth gear. It’s just one of those things that happens, and we’ve got it fixed. I’ve got to hand it to Team MER, Mazda and BFGoodrich – the car was great, and the tires are holding up even in this heat. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
“The start throws another variable into the equation. I’m not sure that any of us have a lot of experience with standing starts – I’ve never done one in a car. It’s not really going to change things too much, but it could shuffle the order on the first lap. It could effect who’s fighting who at the very beginning and let someone get away.”
Starting alongside Evans in the front row is yesterday’s pole sitter, Jesse Combs, of Houston, Texas, with a fast time of 1:34.962 (82.264 mph) in the No. 77 ALARA Racing/Coolgas.com MX-5. Combs finished fourth in race one at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and with overnight adjustments is searching for a podium appearance.
“We rotate our drafting order, and yesterday was my turn,” Combs said of his pole a day earlier. “To be honest, I went out early to do my part to help my teammates and thought it was going to be a throwaway day. We did four or five laps, and I think I was eighth or ninth. We made the decision to pit and park it for 10 minutes, and after the cars cooled down I knew it was my turn and pulled one out on that lap.
“I’m happy to be on the front row for the standing start. Hopefully Evans and I can take off and get away. This will be my first standing start, so I’m looking forward to not having anyone sitting in front of me.”
After finishing second to eventual winner Justin Piscitell in a thrilling Saturday afternoon race, Michael Cooper, of Syossett, N.Y., will start third on Sunday. Cooper’s best time of 1:34.995 (82.236 mph) made him the fastest of the AMG Racing team in the No. 84 AMG Racing/Bromante Landscaping & Design MX-5.
“The car’s still great this morning,” Cooper said. “We haven’t changed anything from yesterday. We made some good moves before yesterday and got up front. AMG has given me a great car.
“The standing start is going to be interesting today, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m happy to be close to the front. Hopefully everyone gets away clean and we have a great start and can race from there.”
AMG Racing teammate Brad Rampelberg will start fourth after a best time of 1:35.019 (82.215 mph) in the No. 4 AMG Racing/Mazda/Cobalt Brakes MX-5. Lyonel Kent, Round Five’s third-place finisher, will start fifth in the No. 13 ALARA Racing/Bulldog Productions MX-5 after a best time of 1:35.043.
Championship-leader and Saturday race-winner Justin Piscitell will start sixth in the No. 89 Team MER/DAMG Worldwide MX-5.
The SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup gets the green light on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. (EDT). The race will be televised live on HDNet.
To follow each session’s notes and timing, please visit www.mx-5cup.com.
Follow the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup on Twitter @ MazdaMX5Cup.