The October event at Buttonwillow marked a new occasion in NASA SoCal Spec Miata in that it was Team Winged Foot Racing that scored pole position for the first time, a major accomplishment on a hot weekend with some hot shoes in the field.
Team Winged Foot driver Daniel Verity took off when the green flag waved and led the field through Turn 1 and into the Esses, which require the field to winnow to single file in short order. Those esses empty onto a fast kink that leads to the hairpin Star Mazda turn, which is where Verity made a critical error and went four off. As the rest of the field went by, Verity set his sights on regaining the ground he’d lost.
Starting from fourth, Sophia Storey gained a position in Turn 1, then capitalized on Verity’s error in Star Mazda and took the lead with Rob Burgoon on her bumper. Storey and Burgoon swapped positions a time or two in a skirmish for the lead. Ultimately, Storey took the win.
“Rob kind of battled pretty hard for it. He’d pull up on me to go for a pass,” Storey said. “But it was a good battle. The car handled really well. Honestly, it was set up pretty much perfectly, and I think it held up well throughout the race. Pretty close to perfect.”
After a late-race attempt to pass Storey, Burgoon was happy to finish second in a race marked by high temperatures for the October date.
“It was a very hot race. So my memory of the first half of the race is dubious, very fuzzy,” Burgoon said. “I was reeling in Sophia and then made a lunge on her in Buttonhook, but then wasn’t able to make it stick coming out of the corner. So we had a nice clean battle and it was just a really fun race, and she ran a really consistent race. So congrats to her.”
2023 season points leader Cooper Hicks was in the hunt for a podium finish, getting by Burgoon for a few laps, but he had a mirror full of Christian Hoagland the whole time. Hoagland eventually got past Hicks for the last step on the podium.
“I struggled very heavily. This was the closest racing that we’ve had so far,” Hoagland said. “Cooper and I, we had a very hard battle and he did not make it easy to get past him, but he overcooked Star Mazda a little, and it gave me the opening. After that, I was able to keep my couple-of-second lead.”
Verity never did get back to the front, but he did put in the fastest lap, which earned him pole position for Sunday morning’s qualifying race.
In Teen Mazda Challenge, it was Storey in first, Hicks in second and Joey Andrews in third. Ryan Gianetta and William Rasmussen joined the SoCal TMC roster for their first race weekend of racing after competition school.
For Sunday’s main, Verity had pole due to the win in the morning qualifying race, with Storey in second. Storey got the better start and took Verity in Turn 1 with Hicks and Burgoon just behind her. Racing on fresh rubber, Storey capitalized on grip and her competition fighting for position behind her.
“That whole group was kind of keeping up, and I think Cooper tried to make a move a couple of times,” Storey said. “But I was able to stay ahead and from there they started battling behind me, and I just walked away with it.”
Finishing where he did the day before, Burgoon had to wait till later in the race for an error from Hicks and Verity to be able to get by. As the race wore on, Burgoon saw his openings and took them.
“Sophia threw on stickers for this one, so she pretty much disappeared off into the distance,” he said. “Cooper Hicks and one of the triumvirate and I all had a great big battle and, yeah, we were just all drafting each other. I had to go single file for a good 70 percent of the race just waiting for someone to make a mistake and then eventually the mistakes came and I was able to get past the both of them.”
Hicks also was able to get around Verity to take third place, and maintain his season points lead in Spec Miata and Teen Mazda Challenge.
“It went well, considering we’re having a little bit of car issues, down on power,” Hicks said. “But my driving was as good as I could be, so I’m just happy to be out here. Not going to complain about where I finished because I had fun, with good racing by the other drivers.”
In Teen Mazda Challenge, it was, again, Storey in first, Hicks in second and Joey Andrews in third.