Saturday morning at the Great Lakes Spec Miata opener at Mid-Ohio, Brian Murdick claimed the pole in dramatic fashion, clicking off a 1:43.627, making him and Justin Hille the only drivers who would see 1:43s during the weekend. Frank Todaro swiped the number two spot, while Chris Williams completed the podium.
The green flag flew and the first race of the season saw the herd barrel toward Turn 1. At the front, Murdick was boosted by a bump from Williams at the start and scampered off to take a commanding early lead. Just behind, three cars wide into Turn 7, Chris Price headed sideways into Jonathan Davis. John Guthrie was caught in the crossfire, and with nowhere to go, rewarded Price with a “welcome to 2014” T-bone. Several people made miraculous escapes, including Jay North.
Back in the pack, Justin Hille began a swift climb to the front, passing eight of 21 cars before the first brake zone. Hille was in contention after completing the first lap seated well within the top 10. Close to halfway through the race, Hille caught and fought with Murdick and Todaro for the lead, while Michael Novak, Williams, Davis and Robert Keller were dicing for the final podium spot.
After fending off a pass/repass from Todaro, Hille began to gap the field, completing a last-to-first run that saw him finish ahead of Murdick by almost 9 seconds. As Novak, Williams, Davis, and Keller were battling, they came upon Todaro, exploring the outer limits of the keyhole, and avoiding the disaster of the tire wall. Traffic allowed the group to catch up to Murdick and the pack of cars in second through sixth crossed the line holding hands — all within one second of one another. When the dust settled, Murdick took second and Novak took third.
After Sunday qualifying, Hille sat atop the group with a very fast 1:43.119, followed by Todaro and Davis.
When the green dropped, Hille took the early lead, followed by Todaro, Williams, Davis, Murdick and Novak. Todaro and Williams battled for several laps, and Williams eventually took the second spot from Todaro. Hille continued his winning ways, and Williams took off to try to catch him. Williams started gapping the field, but Hille started to gap Williams. In the end, Hille cruised to the victory and an impressive sweep for the weekend, which included a scorching fast lap of 1:42.885 in Sunday’s feature.
Williams finished somewhat alone in second. In the battle for third, Murdick retired early due to a hub failure, and at the line, Todaro nipped Davis by .12 seconds to take the last podium spot.