ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 27, 2015) –

Nathanial Sparks, of Spanish Fort, Alabama, was the top driver during the second practice preceding Rounds Nine and 10 of the SCCA Pro Racing Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires as part of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America. Dean Copeland, of Bowie, Maryland, finished second followed by Matt Koskinen, of Harpers Harper Woods, Michigan.Sparks, at the controls of his No. 8 OOTSK Performance/Sick Sideways MX-5, turned in a fast lap of 2:39.046 (91.616 mph) around the 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit. Sparks said the time was a good sign because as he set the lap with a little assistance from the draft of other drivers.

“The guys on the radio told me to come in, but I let them know I wanted to work on some braking points,” Sparks said. “I was able to figure a few things out and came across the line with a pretty good time. It was a solo lap, so the time wasn’t very representative of what it will be like for the race out there.  “It was one of those sessions where I tried a bunch of things and found out what didn’t work. So, now I know not to do those things.”  In the No. 7 Copeland Motorsports/SyncSpeed Inc. MX-5, Copeland slotted into second with a fast lap of 2:39.176 (91.551 mph).  “I thought we had the top spot, but we just got edged out,” Copeland said. “Our plan is to go out tomorrow and qualify in the top five. We learned everyone was really close out on track. There was a group of us out there that included Danny Bender, Patrick Gallagher, and John Dean, and no one was able to break away. We were just running times that were so close together.

Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup

There was a group of us out there that included Danny Bender, Patrick Gallagher, and John Dean, and no one was able to break away. We were just running times that were so close together.  “I think it’s a little prelude of what will come tomorrow during the race. It’s going to be close and we just need to bring it home in one piece. That’s going to be the goal.”  Koskinen, a series rookie, broke into the top three session times for the first time in his Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup career. He said he was very excited and credited his lap of 2:39.218 (91.527 mph) to consistency.  “I was able to put together a consistent lap,” Koskinen said. “We have been working on the car all morning and really found something that works well.


I was having some trouble with oversteer on old tires, but once we changed tires that went away. The guys always give me a great car, and I was just able to put it all together.  “I feel like we’ve had a good session here-and-there. When it comes time to qualify the results just have not been there. The thing I take away the most is confidence going into tomorrow’s session.”  Ara Malkhassian, at his favorite track, was fourth quickest with a time of 2:39.316 (91.417 mph) in his No. 11 ALARA Racing MX-5.  Series Championship leader Patrick Gallagher finished fifth during the second practice session with a time of 2:39.340 (91.457 mph).  In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Ben Albano, CT, crossed the line with a top time of 2:43.654 (89.046 mph). He was in No. 61 Project Yellow Light/Manfredi Jewels SBMX-5.

“Today was a pretty good day,” Albano said. “We had some car troubles before the official practice.  Once the official sessions rolled around we were able to get those troubles fixed. During the second session, the track became a little more green than usual, just because of the drop in temperature. So, that had an effect on the times.  “Road America is a track that looks simple.  This track can divide the new drivers from the veterans.  Knowing about the draft and where to position your car at the right time is very important, and I am looking forward to using that knowledge on race day.”  Robby Foley, of NJ, and Nikko Reger, of TX, completed the top three with times of 2:43.798 (88.968 mph) and 2:44.187 (88.757 mph), respectively.