NASA Great Lakes made its annual trip to Mid-Ohio for Memorial Day weekend and great weather helped bring out 23 Spec Miata competitors for the event, racing on the Mid-Ohio Pro Circuit configuration.
Drivers brought their A-game to qualifying Saturday morning with the top five separated by less than 0.2 seconds. Ryan Roberson grabbed his first pole of 2023 with a 1:43.1. Closely behind Roberson were Chris Finnigan, Olivier Henrichot, Dan Mount, and Marc Cefalo all with a 1:43.2x. The top 13 cars in class were separated by 1.0 second and that served as a strong indicator the racing would be highly competitive.
At the green flag for race one, Finnigan got an immediate jump on Roberson to take P1 and built an impressive 4.5-second lead through lap four. Marc Cefalo was very aggressive from P6 through the initial corners to take P3, but would suffer a tire going flat and struggle to hold sixth. As a result, Roberson regained P2. Dan Mount was shuffled from P4 to P6 in the opening lap, found his way through traffic to grab P3 in the yellow flag shortened race. The battle for sixth had Wyatt Wood, John Allen, and Randy Summerville battling with less than 0.4 seconds separating the three drivers, and Allen ultimately prevailed.
Race two on Sunday morning gridded based on race one fast lap times, with Mount P1, Finnigan P2, and Henrichot P3. The pack behind the top four got a great jump at the green, which shuffled the top 10 considerably. On lap one, Mount and Finnigan were attacked by Henrichot and Wood who started P5. Wood stayed within 0.5 seconds of Henrichot for two laps then capitalized to grab P1 on lap two. Starting from P6, Allen worked his way through traffic to achieve P2 on lap three, but Mount didn’t let that last long by creating an opportunity to get around Allen on lap four.
Mount closed to within 0.4 sec of Wood during the final laps but could not retake P1. The races for P6, P7, and P8 were again contested heavily with six different drivers shuffling though those positions. Jamie Clos, Jeff Wood, Kyle Webb, Marc Cefalo, Summerville, and Roberson were all looking for ways around their competitors.
Pole for the weekend finale Sunday afternoon was captured by Mount, followed by Finnigan and Wyatt Wood. Finnigan captured P1 on the first lap and held to the checkers, but he had to work for it because Cefalo, starting from P4, made it to P2 and was on Finnigan’s bumper the remainder of the race. Allen found his way up to P3 before having an off and dropping back in the field. Jamie Clos, in his first races back with NASA after a couple years away, was battling TMC driver Blake Korth, and did get around him on lap six.
Shout-outs for the weekend include: the entire Spec Miata field for respecting the safety team while they did a hot pull during race 3; John Grim of CRP Racing for providing burgers and hot dogs at the Friday cookout; Blake Korth for the best TMC finishes of the weekend with eighth place in races 2 and 3; Travis Lee for supplying a radiator cap to Olivier Henrichot; Planet Miata for having a rear differential and axle for TMC driver Kamden Hibbitt; Kyle Webb and Dan Mount working the setup on Ryan Roberson’s car, enabling pole position in Saturday qualifying; George Clos for wrenching on Travis Lee’s rear hub after a failure during race 1 sent Travis into the tire barrier.