Daniels Takes Flag-To-Flag MX-5 Cup Win At Trois-Rivieres, Closes On Title
Aug. 6, 2006 - CANADA - Jim Daniels, of Germantown, Tenn., started from the pole and led every lap of today's SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Hankook Round Six race, part of Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, to take his fourth win on the season inch even closer to the inaugural series championship. Anders Hainer, of Hidden Hills, Calif., and Todd Buras, of Melbourne, Fla., completed the top three.
|(l-r) Anders Hainer, Jim Daniels and Todd Buras celebrate on the podium. (Juha Lievonen Image)
Driving his No. 76 saferacer.com/Team MER Mazda MX-5, Daniels started from his fourth pole in six races, got the jump on front row mate and closest championship rival Buras, and never looked back, taking a 4.123-second win, averaging 65.548 mph in the 45-minute timed race around the 1.521-mile temporary circuit.
"My crew chief told me the car would be tight at the beginning and it was,” Daniels said of his planned setup and early understeer condition. “Todd [Buras] was all over me for the first five laps or so and then I started getting front grip in the tires. The car just got better and better. Today was just awesome. I want to thank saferacer.com for their support and dedicate this to my family, who didn"t make the trip up here this weekend.”
Now leading the points by 43 following his third-straight win, Daniels can clinch the inaugural series title with a podium finish at the penultimate round Sept. 2 at Miller Motorsports Park, before the finale at Road America at the end of September.
“It’s tough not to look ahead,” Daniels said of the Championship. “I really want to win it. I didn’t win when it was [Mazdaspeed] Miata Cup and I did a lot to get that [class] going. It’s nice to know that I only need to finish on the podium, but I plan on winning at Miller and I plan on winning at Road America!”
Hainer started third in his No. 13 Under Armour Mazda MX-5 and remained there for the first half of the race as Daniels and Buras worked their way into the distance before a late-race caution. On the ensuing restart, Hainer and Buras battled back and forth for second, with Hainer finally claiming the spot for good on lap 30 of 33.
“These guys are so quick and learned this track so quickly, it was amazing,” Hainer, who has considerable experience at the temporary circuit, said. “Coming off the yellow, I had a chance and took the opportunity. We traded places a couple of times. I think I might have had a better car than him at the end of the race. The race was an absolute blast.”
Coming off a DNF owing to a broken shock at Portland in his No. 56 BSI Racing/supportthem.com Mazda MX-5, Buras got his season back on track with his fifth podium of the season, matching Daniels’ number. He remains second in the Championship.
“It’s good to be back on the podium after the problem at Portland,” Buras said. “I was able to stay close to Jim the first 10 or so laps and we built up a big lead over the rest of the pack. But the double-yellow came out and I just got eaten by the wolves on the restart. Anders [Hainer] and I had a lot of fun. It was good racing and very clean.
“We’re a ways back in the Championship, but we’re going to do everything we can at the last two races.”
Payton Wilson, of Chantilly, Va., finished fourth in his No. 59 BSI Racing/Miami Dade Health Mazda MX-5, followed by Salt Lake City’s Pratt Cole, in the No. 88 DEX/Western Companies Mazda MX-5.
Deborah Loth, of Fort Worth, Texas, raced from 12th on the grid to finish a career-best sixth and earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions.
“I didn’t qualify very well,” Loth said. “I picked up two seconds from practice and came in the pits. When I did, I was like sixth, but ended up falling to 12th by the end of the session. It was a good race though; some of the tightest racing you’ll find all the way through the pack.”
Daniels turned the fastest race lap of the race, with a 1:16.580 (71.501 mph) to earn his third Hawk Hot Lap of the season.
The series next travels to Miller Motorsports Park over Labor Day for the Discount Tire Sunchaser weekend.