Teen Mazda Challenge drivers Matt Million and Noah Grey are demonstrably quick, and they both showed it at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in April. Grey had the edge in qualifying over Million and started from pole.
The race got off to a, well, eager start, and Grey and Million surged ahead. Grey and Million began to gap the field, with third-place Brett Becker running between them and the rest of the pack. That order continued to the very last lap and the second to the last corner where there was some incidental contact between Grey and Million.
“Noah and I had a great battle out there,” Million said. “He ran in front of me for most of the race. I made some moves toward the end that got me the win. I can’t wait for tomorrow. It’ll be fun.”
With Grey in second, that left third place to Becker.
“I tailed the teens for as long as I could keep up with them,” he said. “They pulled away and I was kind of by myself, so I just put my head down, ran as hard as I could, and got third.”
Sunday morning’s qualifying race featured an inverted grid based on the results of Saturday’s race. Buy the time the checkers waved, Grey again had earned pole, followed by Million and Mike Haddad in third.
At the start of Sunday’s points race, Million diced with Grey as fourth-place starter Ryan Pond jumped up to third and fended off Haddad. Three laps in, Pond bobbled at Cotton Corners, and Becker and Haddad passed him to take third and fourth. One lap later, Pond got a bump from Mike Rose in fifth and overtook Becker. Haddad then bobbled in the Buttonhook, fell back to fifth then retook fourth with another bump from fifth-place Rose.
Becker got around Haddad one more time exiting the Buttonhook and set his sights on Pond, who was 10 car lengths ahead, then — with two laps to go — tossed the car off at Cotton Corners. Haddad, James Brown, Rose and Sean Bradley zipped past. In the end, though, it was still Grey in the lead and Million right on his tail. Grey finished first, but the top step on the podium was not to be.
“I led the whole race again from pole, had a really good battle with Matt,” Grey said. “We had some really close calls. We both ended up with a clean race. I came across the line first, but Ryan Flaherty penalized me for blocking. On the front straightaway, I made two moves on the second-to-last lap. I got second.”