Critical Points Weekend for Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
 May 6, 2024| 
  • Series News
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MONTEREY, Calif. (May 6, 2024) – Rounds Five and Six of the Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by Michelin are shaping up to become a pivotal point in the 2024 season. With a few key names missing from the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca entry list, it’s possible for other championship contenders to bank a healthy amount of points.

 

Though it may seem too early in the 14-round season to consider the impact of this weekend’s races on the championship, the last six Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup titles have come down to the finale and a handful of points. With such close competition, it can be easy to look back and see where the decisive points were scored.

 

Laguna Seca is the spiritual home of Mazda MX-5 Cup. It’s the track where the series made its debut in 2006 and has raced at almost every year since with the exception of 2018 and 2020.

 

It’s a special place for many drivers as well. Gresham Wagner (No. 5 McCumbee McAleer Racing) essentially secured his 2021 Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship at Laguna Seca by sweeping the weekend. It’s too early to do that this year, but Wagner could build a significant lead in Monterey with the right results.

 

That’s because two big hitters of the MX-5 Cup paddock are not on the entry list for Laguna: Connor Zilisch (No. 72 BSI Racing) and Selin Rollan (No. 87 BSI Racing). Zilisch has a conflict with his ARCA schedule and Rollan’s new job as a commercial pilot has him working this weekend.

 

That’s two less regular front runners for Wagner to beat and denies Zilisch, who is third in the point standings, the opportunity to bag more points.

 

Laguna Seca is also special to Aaron Jeansonne (No. 24 JTR Motorsports Engineering) not just because he calls Northern California home or because he got his first ever MX-5 Cup win here last year, but it’s the place where he’s cheered on by his biggest fans: the Turn 2 Club.

 

“The overwhelming support from many local partners is truly humbling, and I’m so excited to have the Turn 2 Driver’s Club continuing as our primary as we go into our home race,” Jeansonne said. “Being a member-based private track day club, you can’t ask for better track time than their events, and it has made for the perfect place to share the passion I have for the MX-5 Cup car. With over 10 MX-5 Cup cars purchased and raced in the group, members are getting to race in close quarters and hone their race craft as they see it done at such a high level in Mazda MX-5 Cup. I can’t wait to represent several of them again on our race car as we look to defend our victory from last year.”

 

Jeansonne has even encouraged Turn 2 Club member Kayden Kelly (No. 6 JTR Motorsports Engineering) to enter his first MX-5 Cup race this weekend.

 

Kelly isn’t the only new face on the MX-5 Cup grid, Wyatt Couch (No. 66 Saito Motorsports Group) makes his series debut this weekend as well. Couch is no stranger to the Mazda racing community, however. He’s a former MX-5 Cup Shootout candidate thanks to his success in Spec MX-5. He’s also a California native, plenty familiar with Laguna Seca.

A name making a return appearance to the MX-5 Cup grid is Bryce Cornet (No. 99 Spark Performance), who we haven’t seen behind the wheel since last year’s Laguna Seca races. Cornet was a runner-up in the 2021 MX-5 Cup Shootout.

 

Chasing current championship leader Wagner in the MX-5 Cup points is 2023 MX-5 Cup Shootout winner Westin Workman (No. 13 BSI Racing). The rookie broke through for his first series win in Round Four at Sebring. He trails Wagner by only 10 points coming into Laguna Seca, a circuit he has never raced at before.

 

The rest of the current top five in points fighting for the $250,000 year-end prize includes Jeremy Fletcher (No. 22 McCumbee McAleer Racing) in fourth followed by a three-way tie for fifth between Jeansonne, Tyler Gonzalez (No. 57 Saito Motorsports Group) and two-time champion Jared Thomas (No. 96 JTR Motorsports Engineering).

 

No doubt there will be a big points shakeup leaving Laguna Seca, so don’t miss this doubleheader. Race 1 takes place Saturday, May 11 at 2:55pm ET and Race 2 will go green at 11:35am ET on Sunday, May 12. Both races will be streamed live on RACER.com and IMSA.tv.

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