Spec MX-5 Challenge Impresses at Daytona

Round 12 of the 2023 Spec MX-5 Challenge Series presented by Toyo Tires headed to famed Daytona International Speedway over the weekend, seeing the “World Center of Racing” bring together eleven racers after a two-week break of racing. A favorite track among drivers, Daytona proved to hold up to it’s reputation, providing a weekend full of close racing at both the front and back of the pack.

Nathan Nicholson impressed during qualifying, and looked to bring the same speed to each race, but transmission issues would keep him off the podium all weekend. Westin Workman continued his impressive streak of pace, seeing the young ace win Race 1 on Saturday, while Alex Bertagnoli enjoyed a double-podium event with a 2nd and 3rd place, giving him a total of seven trophies for the season! Noah Harmon would claim 2nd place on Sunday, barely missing out on the win by a mere .078 seconds. Don Squirek was the one who shined brightest for Round 12, seeing him finish 3rd on Saturday, and winning his first Spec MX-5 Challenge race on Sunday in Race 2!

Saturday’s qualifying was close at the front, seeing Nathan Nicholson and Alex Bertagnoli work together to set the quickest times. Westin Workman would be the early benchmark, but suffered without the benefit of a draft, when Nicholson & Bertagnoli teamed up to take the top two spots on lap three, with just .01 separating the two. Workman would settle for third, with Noah Harmon in fourth, and Don Squirek in fifth. Round 12 saw the return of long-time Series Veteran Adam Gonzalez, as well as newcomer Jillian Fichter. Both would qualify at the rear of the field after not racing all season, however they provided fantastic racing with Adam Comstock and Chase Nickells.

Race 1 on Saturday started under blistering heat and and 75% humidity, seeing Nicholson remain out front for the bulk of the first half of the race. Working together with Bertagnoli, the two were able to stay ahead of Workman and Squirek. Incredibly close racing ensued for the duration of the race, both at the front and rear of the pack. Fichter was able to stay clear of the race-long battle behind between Comstock and Gonzalez. On the penultimate lap, Nicholson would lose his transmission and valiantly finished the final lap stuck in fifth gear, while Bertagnoli, Workman, and Squirek surged ahead. Coming out of the bus stop chicane, Workman bided his time and made the move on Bertagnoli to make the pass just before the line, snatching the win by just .2 seconds. Squirek finished third, with Noah Harmon just .15 seconds behind in fourth.

Race 2 on Sunday saw similar hot & humid conditions to Saturday’s race, with Nicholson still on pole after changing his transmission overnight. Workman would take the lead from Nicholson on lap two, Nicholson would get back out front the following laps, where he would remain until his new transmission broke on lap eight, relinquishing the lead to Bertagnoli. Noah Harmon would take the front row spot on the following lap, with Squirek sliding in behind. The pair would remain out front for the rest of the race, until Squirek made the move at the line to steal the win from Harmon by just .078 seconds. Bertagnoli had a strong run at the finish, but would ultimately run out of time to finish in third. Workman finished fourth, with Nathan Saxon in fifth after he battle power issues all weekend.

Round 13 heads to Barber Motorsports Park in just under three weeks, seeing the first time Spec MX-5 Challenge will see track time at the world-class facility. Racers are excited to attack the track, as they look to arrive on a level playing field. Spec MX-5 would like to thank Robin, Leland, Bob, and the rest of the SEDIV SCCA staff for their incredible hospitality at Daytona, and look forward to racing with them again during Labor Day weekend at Sebring, which follows immediately after the Barber event.

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