The first event in 2019 for Teen Mazda Challenge Mid-Atlantic was held at Virginia International Raceway. Two Teen Mazda Challenge drivers, Zach Rubin and Andrew Balgoyen, competed against 11 other Spec Miata drivers, including former Teen Mazda Challenge champion, and current IMSA driver, Brian Henderson.
Zach Rubin qualified second with a 2:17:910, only .2 seconds off polesitter Brian Henderson, with Andrew Balgoyen qualifying eighth. On the standing start, Rubin dropped to fourth on the first lap and Balgoyen had to retire due to a mechanical issue. Rubin battled veteran driver Aaron “Old Man” Johnson for several laps. Johnson and Rubin swapped positions several times during the race, including going side by side through turns 2 and 3. Johnson was able to pass Rubin going into Turn 14, on the penultimate lap to claim fourth place, putting Rubin into fifth. Henderson maintained a steady lead throughout the entire race and took the win. For TMC-MA, Rubin finished first and Balgoyen finished second.
For Sunday’s qualifying, NASA Mid-Atlantic introduced a new format called Beast of the East. This format gridded the cars from the Lightning run group based on their Saturday qualifying time and placed them into brackets of six to seven cars. In addition to putting down their best lap for qualifying, drivers competed for position within their bracket for season points and Beast of the East points (For more information about Beast of the East, visit NASA Mid Atlantic’s website HERE.
For the Beast of the East race, all of the brackets received one green flag. Rubin had to check up at the start, dropping him to the back of his bracket. Balgoyen was able to gain eight positions in the field on the start. After seven laps, Rubin qualified fourth in Spec Miata with a 2:17.803 and finished fifth in his bracket. Balgoyen qualified eighth in Spec Miata with a 2:19.596 and finished third in his bracket. Former TMC-MA driver Henderson qualified on pole for Spec Miata with a 2:14.942 and finished third in his bracket.
At the start of Sunday’s race, Rubin hooked up with Xavier Calderon and Aaron Johnson in pursuit of Brian Henderson, Adam Molaver, and Robert Nash III. After several laps of running nose to tail, Rubin and Johnson were separated by an out-of-class car. A few laps later, Rubin put two off coming out of Turn 4, Calderon spun in the middle of the turn as a result, and Balgoyen had to run wide in the dirt to avoid contact. After several laps, including a full-course yellow, Rubin finished fifth overall and Balgoyen finished seventh overall. Henderson took the Spec Miata win, leading the race wire to wire. For TMC-MA, Rubin finished first and Balgoyen finished second.