MONTEREY, Calif. (May 19, 2007) - Jason Saini, of Fort Worth, Texas, cruised to a more that five second win over Todd Buras, of Melbourne, Fla., today to capture his second win of the SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, as part of the U.S. Sports Car Invitational. Californian Matt Cross finished third.
After starting third, it did not take long for the current MX-5 Cup point leader Saini to grab the lead from the polesitter Cross. Driving the No. 28 Autobarn Mazda/SafeRacer.com Mazda MX-5, Saini took the lead coming out of the corkscrew on lap one and never looked back winning by 5.721-seconds at an average speed of 77.751 mph.
"This win feels good," Saini said of his second victory. "Last year it was a little frustrating because I had some tough luck early on. But, the team never gave up. Team MER is awesome. We came off the truck this weekend a little slow, but we kept making changes to the car. And, we just came up with a set-up that worked."
Buras, who started on the outside of the front row, made a consistent run in his No. 56 BSI/Team Garcia/MOMO/Joe Gibbs Mazda MX-5. In fact, his run was so consistent that he not only started and finished in second, but he also won the Hawk Hot Lap for setting the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:42.661 (78.480 mph).
"The car got better and better," Buras said of his performance in the race after starting the weekend off somewhat slow. "During the race, it was the best handling car we had all weekend. We were running really hard and we won the [Hawk] Hot Lap. I gave it everything I had to try to catch Jason."
The polesitter Cross, who had been fast all weekend in his No. 80 Jason Hoover Motorsports/Hooverspeed Mazda MX-5, lost his ABS going into the corkscrew on the first lap and immediately dropped two spots to third. He would never regain those spots and would have to settle for a solid third-place finish.
"Unfortunately for us we lost our ABS going into the corkscrew, so we were without ABS for the rest of the race," Cross said describing why he fell from first to third on the first lap. "These cars are real difficult to drive without ABS. So, I had to change my driving style. It was a hard drive to hold onto third-place. I am real proud of my guys."
Cross' Hooverspeed teammate Bob Michaelian also had a consistent race from his fourth qualifying position to bring his No. 19 Hooverspeed MX-5 home in fourth. One driver that made up quite a few positions throughout the race was Andrew Caddell . Piloting the No. 30 TeamMER/AimSport/Pinnacle Mazda MX-5, Caddell advanced seven positions throughout the race to finish fifth.
Saini maintained his lead in the Championship. He increased his lead over Ara Malkhassian by 28 points (96-68). They are followed by Cross with 64 points, Jesse Combs with 52 and Caddell with 50.
Round Five of the MX-5 Cup will take place at Portland International Raceway, June 9-10, as part of the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portlan
Attached: Image of the Jason Saini's No. 28 Autobarn Mazda/SafeRacer.com Mazda MX-5. Image may be reproduced with proper copyright information © 2007 Juha Lievonen.
MONTEREY, Calif. - Results from Sunday's 27-lap, 60.426 mile SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Round Three SCCA MX-5 Cup Round Three race, part of the 2007 U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).
1. (3), Jason Saini, Fort Worth, Texas, Mazda MX-5, 27.
2. (2), Todd Buras, Melbourne, Fla., Mazda MX-5, 27, -5.721.
3. (1), Matt Cross, Folsom, Calif., Mazda MX-5, 27, -16.387.
4. (4), Bob Michaelian, Seal Beach, Calif., Mazda MX-5, 27, -26.970.
5. (12), Andrew Caddell, Graham, Wash., Mazda MX-5, 27, -31.323.
6. (8), Jesse Combs, Woodlands, Texas, Mazda MX-5, 27, -34.124.
7. (17), Kim Ouye, Monterey, Calif., Mazda MX-5, 27, -44.654.
8. (7), Ara Malkhassian, Sonoma, Calif., Mazda MX-5, 27, -46.435.
9. (10), Barry A. Fromberg, Plano, Texas, Mazda MX-5, 27, -58.207.
10. (18), Carlos Garcia, Miami, Fla., Mazda MX-5, 27, -59.670.
11. (19), Tim Probert, Houston, Texas, Mazda MX-5, 27, -1:00.285.
12. (5), Andrew Carbonell, Miami, Fla., Mazda MX-5, 27, -1:14.019.
13. (11), John C. Kuitwaard, Wantagh, N.Y., Mazda MX-5, 27, -1:15.049.
14. (15), Brad McAllister, Portland, Ore., Mazda MX-5, 27, -1:15.210.
15. (21), Randy Hale_III, Haddam, Conn., Mazda MX-5, 27, -1:40.940.
16. (22), Dale Alexander, Tampa, Fla., Mazda MX-5, 27, -1:41.750.
17. (16), Rick Bellew, Mobline, Ala., Mazda MX-5, 27, -1:42.300.
18. (26), Harrison Williams, Houston, Texas, Mazda MX-5, 27, -1:42.680.
19. (14), Forest Barber, Forth Worth, Texas, Mazda MX-5, 26, -1 lap.
20. (13), Pratt Cole, Salt Lake City, Utah, Mazda MX-5, 26, -1 lap.
21. (29), Chris Sarian, Littleton, Colo., Mazda MX-5, 26, -1 lap.
22. (23), Donnie Barnes, Chapel Hill, N.C., Mazda MX-5, 26, -1 lap.
23. (28), Laura Olson, Costa Mesa, Calif., Mazda MX-5, 26, -1 lap.
24. (20), Dr. Carlos Tesler-Mabe, Vancouver, British Columbia, Mazda MX-5, 26, -1 lap.
25. (25), Bill Sweedler, Westport, Conn., Mazda MX-5, 25, -2 laps.
26. (24), Steve Bottom, Newport Beach, Calif., Mazda MX-5, 25, -2 laps.
27. (9), Patrick Barrett, Los Osos, Calif., Mazda MX-5, 18, Mech.
28. (6), Donna Gilio, Carson City, Nev., Mazda MX-5, 0, DNS.
29. (27), Steven Bernheim, Encino, Calif., Mazda MX-5, 0, DNS.
Time of race: 46 minutes, 37.825 seconds.
Average speed: 77.751 mph
Margin of victory: 5.721 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-27, #28 Jason Saini
Fastest race lap: #56 Todd Buras, 1:42.661 (78.479 mph)