Selin Rollan and Michael Carter Each Come Away with a Hard-Fought Victory
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The key players in the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires all had strong showings in the Alana Long 100 at Road America, further tightening the point standings and the race for the $250,000 championship prize.
Though he may have started and finished at the front of the field, Selin Rollan’s (No. 87 Hixon Motor Sports) path to victory on Friday at Road America was anything but easy. Rollan scored his fourth win of the season ahead of Gresham Wagner (No. 5 Spark Performance) and Sam Paley (No. 28 McCumbee McAleer Racing) whose intense late-race battle for the final podium spots gave Rollan the room he needed to claim victory.
After falling back in the opening laps courtesy of some errant rain drops and a slick surface, Rollan had to claw his way back to the front amongst a train of six cars circulating the 4.048-mile course nose-to-tail. Five laps later, Rollan was back to the lead, but defending it at every other corner.
Coming to the white flag, Rollan was able to pull out a comfortable gap as Wagner and Paley battled behind him. It was just what he needed to take the win by 0.575 seconds over Wagner.
“I knew it was going to get dicey at some point, but thankfully it was dicey from second on back,” Rollan said. “A big thank you to Hixon Motorsports and my teammate Andrew Carbonell for being great to race with. It was a great race even when the fat raindrops started to get scary. I almost wrecked the car going into Turn 1 on the opening lap, which was very eye opening! I saw Gresham coming from behind and if there was one more lap then I would have been a sitting duck, but I am so happy to get the win. Around Turns 12, 13, and 14, I thought I had it – and I did – but coming onto the front straight getting the white flag I thought to myself that he is coming. I couldn’t make a mistake.”
In the final three laps of the 45-minute race, Wagner was able to climb from fifth to second. Paley, in his first season of MX-5 Cup competition, made every effort to take back the runner-up spot, but ran out of time as Wagner finished second.
Championship leader Michael Carter (No. 08 Carter Racing Enterprises) just missed the podium, finishing fourth. In Saturday’s race, however, it was Carter’s turn to shine.
Carter’s run from eighth on the grid to the win was inspired. The patience and experience of the defending champion were on full display as he used three restarts from yellow to inch his way to the front. He made the pivotal move in the last corner of the last lap and drag-raced Paley to the finish line. Carter beat him by a mere 0.008 seconds.
“What an incredible race!” enthused Carter. “I love this Mazda series, this is some of the best racing that I’ve ever been a part of and, you know, it’s just, it’s good to finally get a win here at Road America. Big thanks to Carter Racing Enterprises, Coaches Corner and our local Mazda dealership JC Lewis Mazda. It was just a chess match with the draft. I took the lead going up the hill and just barely got it at the finish. It’s gone the other way for me; I lost to Rollan by a few thousandths at Sebring. But this feels great. I’m a little hoarse from yelling in the car! But, man, I just, I’m excited. We’re gonna have a good steak dinner after this. And, yeah, just what an awesome race!”
The win is Carter’s third of the season and helps him maintain his lead in the point standings, but only just. Coming out of Road America he has an 80-point lead on Wagner, who is 130 points ahead of Rollan. It is also the seventh MX-5 Cup race this year with a margin of victory under one second.
Paley’s double-podium weekend has pushed him into the lead of the Rookie of the Year standings. He is now 100 points ahead of Chris Nunes (No. 32 JTR Motorsports Engineering), who is 160 points ahead of Luca Mars (No. 41 Copeland Motorsports). Each driver is after the $80,000 Rookie of the Year career scholarship.
A recap of the MX-5 Cup races at Road America will air on NBCSN at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday, Aug. 18. Up next for MX-5 Cup is WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Sept. 10-12.