McAleer Earns Season’s Second Playboy MX-5 Cup Pole at Mazda Raceway
May. 10, 2012 - MONTEREY, Calif. - Steven McAleer, a Scotland native now living in Putnam Valley, N.Y., earned the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup pole on Thursday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and will start Friday’s Round Three race from the front row.
|Stevan McAleer took the pole at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Weber photo)
McAleer was outside of the top five in both practice sessions earlier in the day, and was unsure how quick his No. 28 CJ Wilson Children’s Charities/Blue Mercury Mazda MX-5 was going to be. When his second lap showed a 1:42.372 (78.701 mph), McAleer pulled into pit lane and watched as his fast lap held up for his second pole of the young season.
The pole position also gets McAleer an additional five bonus points in the Championship, which moved him from third to a one-point advantage in a very tight early battle over Elliot Skeer and John Dean (three back).
“I’ll be honest, we were a little bit optimistic,” McAleer said of the session. “We seemed to be lacking a little bit of speed to some of the cars in the last session. I just went out to make sure my laps were clean, and if we ended up fourth or fifth that’s as good as we could hope for.
“I got my head down to about a 42.3, and had a big massive slide in the next corner and said ok, that seems to be good enough for right now. I just came in and sat nervously and watched the times get closer and closer, but I’m super happy to be on the pole at Mazda Raceway.”
Between the bonus points and the up front starting position, the pole is especially important on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile track.
“Track position is critical here,” McAleer said. “I was out with a couple of cars in the last session that were substantially slower, and it’s really not that easy to pass on this track with these cars. Track position is everything. It’s nice to start on the pole. I’m pretty excited.”
Skeer, McAleer’s CJ Wilson Racing teammate, will make Friday morning’s standing start on the outside of row one. Skeer’s No. 17 MAZDASPEED/Sparco/Pelican Windows & Doors MX-5 turned a lap of 1:42.401 (78.679 mph), falling just 0.029-second behind McAleer.
Christian Szymczak, who was fastest in the morning practice session, will start third in the No. 34 Projections Research/Sick Sideways MX-5 after a time of 1:42.581 (78.540 mph). His time, like most in the session, were slower than this morning’s session as the track has gotten warmer.
Dean Copeland turned the fastest lap of the race a season ago at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and will start on the outside of row two after a lap of 1:42.680 (78.465 mph) in the No. 7 Copeland Motorsports/SyncSpeed MX-5.
Starting fifth is the Series’ all-time leader in fast race laps, Ara Malkhassian, after a 1:42.781 (78.388 mph) in the No. 11 ALARA Garage MX-5.
Kenton Koch, from Glendora, Calif., will start up front for the Skip Barber Racing School MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge class running concurrently with the MX-5 Cup.
The first of two 45-minute races this weekend, Round Three on the season, will begin at 8:10 a.m. on Friday morning.
More information on the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy MX-5 Cup is available at www.mx-5cup.com.
Follow the MX-5 Cup on Twitter @MazdaMX5Cup.