Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup Poised for Thrilling Races at Sebring
 March 11, 2024| 
  • Series News
24-SEB-Preview

SEBRING, Fla. (March 11, 2024) – Returning to a track that has been the site of some amazing finishes, the Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by Michelin is preparing to put on two more show-stopping races at the legendary Sebring International Raceway this week. Adding to the excitement is the addition of Xfinity Series driver Jesse Love to the grid.

 

Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup hasn’t raced at Sebring since 2021, but everyone remembers the three-way photo finish that concluded the first race; Selin Rollan, Michael Carter and Gresham Wagner crossed the finish line in tandem, but the scoring screen showed Rollan had won by 0.001-second over Carter.

 

Rollan (No. 87 Rollan Racing/BSI Racing) is back for another shot at Sebring glory, as is Wagner (No. 5 McCumbee McAleer Racing). Wagner won the second Sebring race in 2021 and the pair are the only former Sebring winners on the grid this year.

 

Wagner, the 2021 Mazda MX-5 Cup Champion, is currently tied for the lead in the championship with his teammate Jeremy Fletcher (No. 22 McCumbee McAleer Racing). Fletcher has never raced Sebring in a MX-5 Cup car but has plenty of other experience there to consider it home.

 

“I consider Sebring my home track,” Fletcher said. “It’s about two hours from my house and I have quite a bit of Spec Miata experience there. We’ve done some testing there. Coming off of two podiums at Daytona and tied for the championship gives me a boost personally, so I’m looking forward to Sebring and carrying that momentum through.”

 

Another driver who calls Sebring home is Julian DaCosta (No. 78 BSI Racing). The rookie hails from Myakka City, Florida, only an hour away from Sebring.

 

The rookie with the most points leaving Daytona is Mazda Shootout Scholarship winner Westin Workman (No. 13 BSI Racing). If it weren’t for a last lap incident in the second race at Daytona, Workman would be higher in the overall standings than sixth, where he sits presently.

 

Another “rookie” to keep an eye on at Sebring is Jesse Love (No. 2 Hendricks Motorsport). Love drives the No. 2 Whelen Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and is the reigning ARCA Menards Series Champion. Mutual sponsor Whelen Engineering introduced Love to MX-5 Cup and after what he saw at Daytona, he was all-in for making his debut.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to compete at Sebring for the first time,” said Love. “Our season with the No. 2 Whelen Chevrolet has been off to a strong start, and with an off weekend early in the Xfinity Series schedule, it allowed for this to come together. I have driven a lot of different cars throughout my career, from sprint cars to stock cars, so this is another tool that I can use in the future.”

 

He will be supported by Hendricks Motorsports, a new team led by Kimberlee Hendricks, a second-generation racer and owner of the Daytona-based prep shop.

 

If Connor Zilisch (No. 72 BSI Racing) appears to have an extra shine and sparkle to him at Sebring this week, it might be because of the Rolex watch he now owns thanks to a victory in the LMP2 category at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. His debut in the famous enduro went better than his MX-5 Cup races. Despite leading the most laps at Daytona, Zilisch came away with a fifth and a 25th-place finish, the latter due to a mechanical issue. He is currently 12th in the point standings.

 

Zilisch will be pulling double duty again at Sebring, racing in both MX-5 Cup and the WeatherTech Championship.

 

“I really enjoy Sebring,” Zilisch said. “It’s got a lot of character and it’s one of the more unique tracks in the country, so getting to race there in Mazda MX-5 Cup is going to be a lot of fun. There was that great finish they had there in 2021. I’m super excited. I’ll be running double duty there as well, so it’s going to be a busy week for me.”

 

It will be a busy Wednesday for all the MX-5 Cup competitors, because there are three track sessions that day; both practice sessions plus qualifying. If anyone has an issue with their car, there’s only a brief amount of time between sessions to get it fixed.

 

Both MX-5 Cup races will be streamed live on RACER.com and IMSA.tv. Race 1 is scheduled for Thursday, March 15 at 1:05pm ET. Race 2 will take place Friday, March 16 at 11:15am ET.

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