Braselton, Georgia (July 25, 2018) – When Nick Bruni claimed the pole during Saturday morning’s qualifying, he didn’t realize how important that would be.
When the original start was waived off, the 20-minute race immediately got shorter. When another class car in the same run group slid into the gravel just three laps later and couldn’t be retrieved, Bruni cruised home to his second win in three races as Saturday’s ended under yellow. Tom Martin, third overall, was the first Central Series driver to cross the stripe and take home the full 20 points for a win in the only mixed-Series race prior to the season-ending championship rounds.
Once the green flag flew, Bruni and Peter Ensor worked together from the front row to keep their Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5s in front of their challengers. Ensor was content to run in second, but that became a downfall when the race never returned to green.
“Today’s race started with qualifying this morning, getting a good qualifying spot and starting on pole. Peter and I were side by side, and I think I got a little bit of a jump on the gas and was able to pull into first place going into Turn Two. Peter and I did exactly as planned, trying to gap the rest of the field.”
Martin started third overall in his Winding Road Racing Mazda MX-5, where four of the Central Series drivers crossed over in advance of the Championship round. The top seven full-season drivers in both the Central and the East will be invited to a two-race round that will decide the winner of the $100,000 scholarship good toward a select 2019 Pro Series ride.
“It was basically only three laps of green,” Martin said. “It was a pretty uneventful race, I was just trying to hang with Nick and Peter and not race them too hard, but stay in the lead of my group. I got it done. It was pretty straight forward today.”
A second-place finish for Ensor allowed him to make up two points on East leader Jason Connole, who started eighth overall and climbed to fifth, fourth in the East.
“(Bruni and I) tried to work together for a little bit and break away from the pack since we started first and second,” Ensor said. “We just wanted to work together to the end.”
John Allen earned his second podium finish of the season, hanging on for third in the East (fourth overall) in the Defined Autoworks/iRacing MX-5. With Connole charging hard from one position back, and Martin within striking distance in front, the train was forming for the fight to come to the leaders. Alas, it was not meant to be.
“The run to third in points was anticlimactic,” Allen said. “Twenty minutes isn’t a long time, but we didn’t even get that. I got a good run early. I was trying to chase down Tom Martin, and maybe he and I could work together and get the front two run down. It looked to be possible, but literally three green laps and it didn’t work out.”
Matt Million and Noah Grey completed the podium finishes for the Central drivers, just behind Connole for sixth and seventh overall.
“It was a short race, which was disappointing because I felt really good,” Million said. “The car felt really good, especially in the corners. It was hot, which is nice. I like the heat and feel like it balances things out pretty well. I was struggling with acceleration from third to fourth gear in Turn Seven, and I was a sitting duck on the back straightaway. I got passed twice in the same spot, two laps in a row. I was trying to manage and make do with what I had before the caution.”
Both sets of drivers will line back up on Sunday for a 30-minute race. For the East Series, Sunday’s race is Round Eight on the season; for the Central Series, Sunday’s race is Round Six.
More information on the Spec MX-5 Challenge can be found on the Series’ website at www.SpecMX-5.com.
Braselton, Georgia – Unofficial Overall Results of Saturday’s Spec MX-5 Challenge combined East and Central Series race, Round Seven for the East and Round Five for the Central, with finish position (start position), Name, sponsor and car. Drivers running for Central points are denoted with an (*).
1. (1), Nick Bruni, Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
2. (2), Peter Ensor, Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
*3. (3), Tom Martin, Winding Road Racing/WindingRoad.com Mazda MX-5
4. (5), John Allen, iRacing/Definied Autoworks/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
5. (8), Jason Connole, Protech Bedliners/Trimark Digital/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
*6. (4), Matt Million, SCR Performance/Winding Road Racing Mazda MX-5
*7. (6), Noah Grey, Winding Road Racing Mazda MX-5
8. (7), Manny Martinez, Island Motor Cars/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
*9. (9), Harry Voigt, Winding Road Racing Mazda MX-5
10. (11), Tyler Harrell, JTC Racing/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
11. (12), Assen Rachev, Stable Energies/Possien-Hall Motorsports Development/BGN Racing/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
12. (10), Jose Garcia, KEEM Corp./Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5