Sixteen cars from the Southeast and Florida regions turned up at Daytona International Speedway for a combined regional event shortly after the 2021 NASA Championships were announced.

NASA Southeast Spec Miata rolled into the World Center of Racing with a 16-car turnout from the Southeast and Florida regions. On Saturday, Anthony Zappone won pole position on a wet track with a 2:47.094, with Yan Dia P2, Mark Gibbons P3, Matt Goodrich P4, Keith Williamson P5 and Don Elvington P6.

At the green flag, Gibbons got to Zappone’s bumper and the pair got through Turn 1, with Dia dropping in behind, followed by Goodrich and Williamson. As the lead pack left the infield, Zappone and Gibbons started to pull away from Dia, while Goodrich and Williamson bump-drafted to try to close up on Dia. On lap two, Gibbons got a run out of the infield to swap positions with Zappone as Dia continued to chase without a bump draft partner. Goodrich and Williamson struggled to catch up.

On lap three, Williamson got to Goodrich’s bumper briefly, then went right to try a low-percentage pass on Goodrich, Dia and a Spec E30 approaching the Bus Stop. Williamson couldn’t make the Bus Stop, slowed to ensure he didn’t gain any positions and ended up dropping to P8. By lap three, Gibbons and Zappone had checked out and were never threatened for the rest of the race. Meanwhile, Goodrich got to the inside of Dia at Turn 3 to make the pass for P3 as Jim Platis, Joe Pace and Elvington tried to chase them down.

After the Bus Stop, Williamson got to Elvington’s bumper to push the pair past Platis and Pace to take P5 and P6. As Goodrich turned out of the infield on lap five, he had fuel pickup issues and dropped back.

Dia, Elvington and Williamson then bump-drafted after the Bus Stop. As the three approached Turn 1, Williamson stayed wide to get outside Elvington as they turned in at Turn 1. They then went side by side through Turn 2 and Williamson completed the pass at Turn 3 for P4.

On lap seven Williamson got to the inside of Dia at Turn 3 and the pair went side by side thru turns 4 and 5, but Williamson couldn’t complete the pass and lost a position to Elvington as they turned out of the infield. As the three came out of the Bus Stop on the last lap, Williamson got to Elvington’s bumper and pushed him up to Dia where they finished the race with Mark Gibbons winning, Antony Zappone, P2, Yan Dia P3, Don Elvington P4, Keith Williamson P5 and Joe Pace P6.

Bump-drafting is a must for fast laps at a track like Daytona. Here Mark Gibbons and Teen Mazda Challenge driver Anthony Zappone show how it’s done right.

On Sunday, working with Yan Dia, Keith Williamson managed to win pole position with a 2:24.054 followed by Joe Pace P2, Mark Gibbons P3, Yan Dia P4, Jay Stroud P5 and Matt Goodrich P6. On the first lap, Gibbons got to Williamson’s bumper and pushed the pair to gap the rest of the field and separate Williamson from Dia, his draft partner. On lap two, Gibbons drafted up to Williamson and took the lead going into the Bus Stop and, with a good exit, established a comfortable lead. Zappone bump-drafted Goodrich past Dia approaching the Bus Stop on lap three, and then Dia pushed Zappone around Goodrich, and the pair started closing the gap on Williamson.

Then, on lap four, Dia got a push from Goodrich just before the Bus Stop to get around Zappone, but tried to carry a little too much speed into the Bus Stop, getting loose and going for a long ride through the grass, dropping about 10 positions.

On lap five, Williamson got a good lap, including bump-drafting an E30, and started cutting into Gibbons lead. With the white flag waving, Williamson closed the gap some more as he did his fastest lap of the race and it also started to rain. Last lap, Gibbons got loose going into Turn 1 and then by Turn 6 Williamson had closed to his bumper. Gibbons got loose again turning into the Bus Stop and went through the grass. Williamson checked up to give Gibbons room to gather it up and as the pair exited the Bus Stop, it quickly turned into a side-by-side race to the checker with Gibbons edging out the win with Williamson P2, Zappone P3, Elvington P4, Pace P5 and Mike Coulling P6.

Sunday’s race featured a side-by-side race to the checkers, with Mark Gibbons edging out the win, with Keith Williamson in second and Anthony Zappone in third.


Image courtesy of Jim Voss

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