ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 27, 2015) –
John Dean, of Sebring, Florida, turned the quickest lap in the first practice. This was in preparation for Rounds Nine and 10 of the SCCA Pro Racing Competition. This is also sponsored by Battery Tender, Mazda MX-5 Cup, Presented by BF Goodrich Tires. This is part of the NASCAR XFINITY Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville.
Drake Kemper, of Toluca Lake, California, and Dean Copeland, of Bowie, Maryland, completed the top three positions. Dean was in his No. 16 Bulb Jacket/PPG/Sick Sideways MX-5 car. Dean put down his fastest time of (92.133 mph) on the last lap of the 14-turn, 4.048-mile circuit. He ended the session 0.111-seconds ahead of his teammate Kemper. Dean said he sees the Sick Sideways one-two finish as a precursor of what may come throughout the weekend.
“We’d like to think we could have this same type of finish in qualifying. But some of the competitors weren’t out there,” Dean said. “Patrick Gallagher had some mechanical issue, so he wasn’t out there. It was just tough to gauge where my speed was. We try to compare speed to the guys we are battling in the standings. Dean Copeland is always toward the front, so that allowed us to benchmark where we were.
“We’re pretty happy. The car’s handling pretty good, right now. When all three of us go out there, me, Drake [Kemper] and ‘Sparky’ [Nathanial Sparks], we just have fun. When qualifying comes we’ll just have to see where everyone shakes out. During the race, it’s going to be anyone’s game. There is going to be a train of 15 cars out there and I’m just hoping to be at the front.” While Dean collected data from the practice on old tires, Kemper went out for this 30-minute session on new rubber. Kemper pushed his # 99 Mazda Motorsports Development / BF Goodrich Tires MX-5. His best time was 2:38.282 (92.069 mph) on his third lap of the session.
“The track kept changing during the session,” Kemper said. “We just went out there and tried to put a few consistent laps together. We managed to make it up to second in practice, just behind John Dean. “I hope this is a foreshadowing of what is to come during qualifying. I would be really nice to have our team lock down the front row for the third time this season. Qualifying is one thing, but it’s a long day here at Road America come race day.”
Copeland, the defending race winner, threw down his fast lap of 2:38.371 (92.017 mph) on the fifth lap. While the result is not exactly where Copland wanted to be. He was in his No. 7 Copeland Motorsports / SyncSpeed Inc MX-5. He says he is not worried about the setup on his car come race day. “I’m feeling alright,” Copeland said. “I’m not sure we’re where we need to be to win. This field is stronger than ever. With that said, I’m not worried. We will be there at the end of the race as long as we’re in the top eight.
“The first time I went out on this track, it became my favorite. It’s just one of those things where you come to a place you really like. Here there’s just a little extra pizzazz that helps you perform better.” Timothy Paul, in the No. 6 ALARA Racing/Cellmark MX-5 car. He finished the session in fourth after stopping the timing clocks with a time of 2:38.753 (91.795 mph). Sparks in his No. 8 OOTSK Performance / Sick Sideways MX-5 car put in some laps. Nathanial Sparks completed the trifecta of team cars in the top five positions. Drivers from Copeland Motorsports and ALARA Racing were the only non-Sick Sideways drivers in the top five positions.
In the MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge class, Robby Foley, of Randolph, New Jersey, led the way with a lap of 2:42.339 (89.768 mph). Nikko Reger, of Houston, was second with a lap of 2:42.948 (89.432 mph). Ben Albano, of CT, completed the top three in the number 61 Project Yellow Light / Manfredi Jewels SBMX-5, with a speed of (88.894 mph).