NASA Arizona and NASA SoCal converged at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway for the first Spec Miata race of their seasons. Race one was a nail-biter with several lead changes among the top five starters.

Call it the shootout at Desert Center, the weekend NASA SoCal and NASA Arizona converged at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway for their first Spec Miata races of the 2024 season.

Saturday morning qualifying saw SoCal Teen Mazda Challenge driver Joey Andrews nab pole position, the first pole of his sports car career. However, when green flag flew, Andrews had his car in third gear rather than second, and he was swamped by the rest of the field as it entered Turn 1.

As the field exited the second turn, Team Mountain Top Racing emerged in first place followed by Scott Phillips and Team Pro Laps. The lead must have changed four or five times in the first half of the race, when Robert Rose of Team Pro Laps took over first place and set about putting a gap on the rest of the field.

“I started in third place and it’s kind of interesting, it’s been three years since I’ve driven at this track and when I drove here last, I won the race. It was my second win in a row. So three years off, I get my third win in a row started from third,” said Team Pro Laps’ Rose. “I got by Scott Phillips going into the, to the little tower chicane. I always feel that I have a good run out of there, down the back straightaway. And when I got out of it and I looked down the back straightaway, I realized they were all together. And I told myself, I said, this is your chance. Do not make a mistake. Hit all your marks, get it on the apex and let them fight it out. And thank goodness they did fight it out and I just had clean laps for the last 20 or so minutes.”

As the battles for second and third raged behind him, No. 117 Robert Rose extended his lead and took the win in race one by about 4 seconds.

Andrews, Phillips and Team Mountain Top racing diced with one another trying to sort out the rest of the podium while Rose focused on hitting his marks. Andrews was finally able to get around Philllips to take over second place, where he finished.

“Yeah, it was a crazy race to say the least. At the start, I started in the wrong gear and that was ultimately what cost me the win,” Andrews said. “I fell back all the way to sixth, then had quite a hard battle, all the way back up to second. And then by that time the gap to first place was around 4 seconds, I would estimate. And then I had the pace to win. Kept catching him lap after lap after lap, but there were only 12, 13 laps in this race and just wasn’t close enough by the end.”

Phillips acknowledged that Andrews had more pace, but in the end it didn’t seem to matter.

“It was probably more fun than any race I’ve won, getting third in that race, honestly. I mean, I wish every race was like that,” Phillips said. “Neil and Tristan and I were all together. I honestly think they were both faster than me, but I just got ahead of him. They started battling. Neil was super aggressive. He was battling with Tristan and it just helped me out. I feel bad for holding up 789 a little bit. He probably could have gotten the win. I didn’t know he was that much faster than me.”

The Teen Mazda Challenge podium was Andrews in first, Finley Stufkosky in second and William Rasmussen in third.

On Sunday morning, Phillips found just enough pace to snare pole position for Sunday’s main, followed by Andrews in second. At the green flag, Phillips jumped out to an early lead and began opening up the gap between himself and Andrews, who was battling with Neil Marvin to hold onto second place. At checkers, it was Phillips with the win, Andrews in second and Marvin in third.

The Teen Mazda Challenge podium was Andrews in first, Stufkosky in second and Rasmussen in third.



Sunday’s Spec Miata podium saw NASA Arizona’s Scott Phillips in first, Teen Mazda Challenge driver Joey Andrews in second and Arizona’s Neil Marvin in third. For the record, the bottles contained sparkling cider, not champagne.
Image courtesy of CaliPhoto


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