Dean Earns First Playboy MX-5 Cup Pole of Season, New Track Record At Road America
Jun. 22, 2012 - ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - John Dean, of Sebring, Fla., earned his first pole of the season, the five championship points that come with it, and a new track record for bragging rights on Friday at Road America during qualifying for Round Six of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup.
|John Dean, Saturday morning's polesitter and track record holder (Les Tension Photography)
The tension for the 20-minute afternoon session began nearly two hours before the green flag as teams and officials kept an eye on the radar, watching a summer thunderstorm blow across the state of Wisconsin. The skies finally opened up about an hour before the session was supposed to start, drenching the four-mile circuit.
The rain only lasted 30 minutes, and when the sun came out immediately after the track was essentially dry when the session started. Each of the front-running drivers went out on the BFGoodrich Tires g-Force R1 dry tire, which proved to be the correct choice.
With a dry track, Dean marched out and turned a lap that vaulted him to the top of the times in the No. 16 Projections Research/Sick Sideways MX-5. On his seventh lap, he lowered that to the pole-winning 2:38.484 (91.951 mph). The mark bettered the existing qualifying record of 2:38.602 (91.882 mph) set by Todd Buras in 2008.
“The new record is a nice bonus, but we’ve been fighting so hard to be able to race these guys for pole,” Dean said. “It’s five points for pole, so we knew we needed it, and it’s a good feeling. We’ve been working until 1:30 in the morning some nights, so it’s well deserved for the crew. It really builds the confidence back up after Mid-Ohio for sure.”
Road America’s long straightaways present an additional challenge during the race, introducing drafting as an integral strategy. Drafting is expressly forbidden by the series during qualifying, making sure each car has to run on its own. So does the pole position matter at Road America?
“At most tracks, probably, but at this track, not really – because all you’re wondering is who is going to pass me first in the draft,” Dean decided. “The championship points for the pole is something we’ve been trying really hard to get all season long and we’ve captured that. Now it’s just a matter of staying in probably the top five during the race to have a chance at the end. The position doesn’t really matter, but the five points for the pole definitely matters.”
Dean needed every bit of that record-setting qualifying lap, as Championship leader Stevan McAleer crossed the stripe in the No. 28 CJ Wilson Children’s Charities/Numerix/Blue Mercury Capital MX-5 in 2:38.896 (91.713 mph) to make Saturday’s standing start from the outside of row one.
Starting behind Dean on the grid is Elliott Skeer in the No. 17 MAZDASPEED/Sparco MX-5. McAleer’s CJ Wilson racing teammate posted a time of 2:39.242 (91.513 mph) to take the position.
The outside of row two came to a dead heat with identical laps of 2:39.396 (91.425 mph) for the No. 12 Frank’s International/Race Now For Autism MX-5 of Jeff Mosing and the No. 34 Projections Research/Sick Sideways MX-5 of Christian Szymczak. The second-quickest lap is used to break a qualifying tie, awarding Mosing the fourth starting position. Szymczak will start fifth.
Dean Copeland (No. 7 Sync Speed Inc/Copeland Motorsports MX-5) will start on the outside of row three.
Sam Barnett (No. 29 ModSpace Motorsports/CJ Wilson Racing MX-5) and Ara Malkhassian (No. 11 ALARA Racing MX-5) compose row four.
Bryan Hixon will start on the class pole of the Skip Barber Racing School MAZDASPEED Pro Series class with a time of 2:43.095 (89.351 mph) in the No. 63 Ducati San Antonio/Tequila Me MX-5.
The 45-minute timed Round Six race for the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup will begin with a standing start on Saturday morning at 7:25 a.m.
More information on the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy MX-5 Cup is available at www.mx-5cup.com.
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