LEXINGTON, Ohio – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course never disappoints for close, wheel-to-wheel racing and Rounds 7 and 8 of the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires were no exception.
Selin Rollan (No. 87 Hixon Motor Sports) came out on top of a six-way battle for the win in Round 7 on Saturday despite never having much previous luck at Mid-Ohio. The 2018 MX-5 Cup rookie of the year felt as though his driving style never quite fit the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course. All that changed when he crossed the finish line 1.552 seconds clear of Sam Paley (No. 28 McCumbee McAleer Racing).
“It was a good race and the car was handling great especially at the end,” Rollan said. “Hixon Motor Sports set up a perfect car. It was really consistent at the end and went where I wanted it to go. I felt bad for (Michael) Carter when he had that problem. I was pushing him, and we were trying to get away, but then he lost power coming out of the Keyhole.”
Round 7 was the first race where neither of the top two drivers in the championship stood on the podium. Carter (No. 08 Carter Racing Enterprises) finished sixth and Gresham Wagner (No. 5 Spark Performance) was fourth.
Instead it was the rookie, Paley, and veteran Justin Piscitell (No. 89 McCumbee McAleer Racing) who finished second and third, respectively.
Rookies were the star of Sunday’s Round 8 race. Although Jared Thomas (No. 96 JTR Motorsports Engineering) crossed the finish line in first, he was disqualified in post-race technical inspection, giving the win to teammate Chris Nunes (No. 32 JTR Motorsports Engineering).
A rookie and Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout Scholarship recipient, Nunes scored his first MX-5 Cup victory.
“I’m honored and privileged to even be racing MX-5 Cup underneath the Mazda scholarship,” Nunes said. “I took second place to my teammate in first, however, the car he rented didn’t pass tech, which put me into the first position. It’s not the way I wanted to get my first professional win, but I’ll take it. … I can’t complain. It puts me in the lead for rookie of the year and fourth overall in points.”
Wagner was listed as second in the final standings and another rookie, Luca Mars (No. 41 Copeland Motorsports), earned his first MX-5 Cup podium finish. Not only did Mars take home a third-place trophy, but he was the Hard Charger in both Mid-Ohio races, which meant he collected a total of $2,000 for himself and $2,000 for his crew chief.
It’s no wonder the MX-5 Cup rookie class is performing so well; the freshman class is fighting for the $80,000 that comes with the rookie of the year prize.
Carter, the championship leader coming into Mid-Ohio, retained his spot at the top of the points despite not finishing on the podium in either race, but Wagner has closed the gap. Carter has 2,450 points to Wagner’s 2,410. Rollan remains third with 2,200 points.
A recap of the Mid-Ohio weekend will air on NBCSN at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday, May 25.
The MX-5 Cup paddock takes a “summer break” before Rounds 9 and 10 at Road America from August 6-8. As always, both races will stream live on IMSA.com and NBC Sports Gold TrackPass.