When NASA SoCal headed to Auto Club Speedway in advance of the midsummer break in the region’s schedule, Blake Minasian was firmly in the lead of the points chase.
Lap times at Auto Club Speedway typically cluster tighter than other tracks in the region, so the racing tends to be more competitive. Add in the importance of the draft and the stakes escalate.
On Saturday, Spec MX-5 Cup driver Chris Nunes grabbed pole position, with KC Cook in second, Anthony Zarcone in third and Blake Minasian in fourth.
At the start, Cook and Minasian made the most of the draft and pushed each other into the top two spots by the time they reached Turn 3, the entrance to the infield portion of the track. Nunes shoe-horned his way into third past Anthony Santos and the front three broke away.
Later in the race, as Nunes headed into the braking zone for Turn 11, he couldn’t make the turn, cut the course and re-entered at Turn 13 with the lead, which he held till the end for the win. Post-race protests led to a repositioning, which moved Cook to first, Nunes to second and Minasian in third.
Mark Polunin took first in Teen Mazda Challenge, followed by Cooper Hicks and Santos in third.
On Sunday, Nunes took the win in the qualifying race to earn pole for the main. Minasian was second, followed by Cook, Rob Burgoon and Polunin.
Nunes capitalized on his position and put a few car lengths on Minasian, Burgoon, Cook and Polunin, who teamed up to draft past Burgoon a lap later. Polunin attempted a pass on Cook on the apron of the oval between turns 1 and 2, but it didn’t stick.
Polunin and Cook bump-drafted past Minasian, which put them in third and second, respectively. They continued to draft each other to put a gap on Minasian. Late in the race, Polunin was finally able to get around Cook to take second and keep it till the end. The finish was Nunes on top, Polunin in second and Cook in third.
That put Polunin in first in Teen Mazda Challenge, followed by Hicks in second and Santos in third. Headed into the summer break, Minasian still leads the points chase, followed by Cook, AJ Zarcone, James Brown and Cooper Hicks.