Unlike the finishes at many of the 2013 Spec Miata races, one discernible trait of the podium finishers at Auto Club Speedway is that the majority of them were old enough to vote. Some even had gray hair.
Past events have been primarily all-teen podiums, so it’s encouraging to see age and treachery trump youth, enthusiasm, and a nonexistent sense of mortality. If only for one event this season.
Ken Saward qualified on the pole Saturday, which is always a plus, but because of the draft at Auto Club Speedway, any advantage can go away as early as the first turn. Saward got a decent jump, but the field of 10 cars all pushing one another faster made for a crowded entry into the infield portion of the roval course.
“I got a good start, but then these guys came by me in the draft and I just tried to hang on with the lead pack and stay with the draft, because once you lose the draft here you’re kind of finished,” Saward said.
Saward, Dave Varco, Ramon Niebla and Teen Challenge driver Nova Brown set the pace and pulled ahead of the field a bit and battled among themselves, trading positions all race long.
“That was a lot fun,” Varco said. “We battled the entire race. I had the lead a couple of laps, I was in fourth for a couple laps and all the other places in between. Everybody raced pretty cleanly. It was back and forth between fourth and first, and I ended up second. One more lap and it could have been any one of the three or four of us who could have won.”
At the end, it was Saward on top for his first win, followed by Varco and Brown in third.
Sunday was essentially the same three players dicing for the same three spots. Brown, Varco and Saward all pulled ahead just a bit and resumed the battle they waged had the day before. However, in the end, the top spot on the podium was, in fact, occupied by a racer not yet old enough to vote. Nova Brown scored his first win in NASA SoCal Spec Miata.
“It feels good to finally win. At a track that’s not too great for us, it’s the best feeling in the world,” Brown said. “I got behind Dave a couple of times and tried to push, but the draft wasn’t doing much to gap us over the rest of the field. Most of it was done on the infield. Overall, just a great race, a great car underneath me. It feels good.”