After all the hype, all the preparation for and anticipation of the Toyo Tires Classic at the NASA Championships presented by Toyo Tires, the Spec Miata race result boiled down to a few simple elements: speed, skill and determination.
When the race was over, it also boiled down to what tech inspectors might find. They did not finish full inspections on critical components till two weeks after the event. Until then, the results were provisional.
Teen Mazda Challenge driver Matthew Dirks put his car on pole position during the rain-soaked final qualifying session Friday. In second was Nick Sommers, a driver who graduated from Teen Mazda Challenge. Danny Steyn started from third with NASA Arizona’s Austin Newmark alongside.
When the green flag dropped, we could easily see the dearth of torque from Dirk’s 1.6-liter car. Dirks was swallowed up by Steyn, Sommers, Brian Henderson and Newmark before Turn 1. Dirks persisted and still managed to come out of Turn 1 in fourth place and ahead of the melee that occurred in Turn 2 in the front third of the field. Five cars got tangled up and spun off track at the exit of Turn 2 in addition to two others who went four off but continued unharmed. The field had further difficulty through the esses, but the race ran without a full-course caution the entire 45 minutes.
Steyn led the field into Turn 12, where Buras took the lead and held it till lap seven. Steyn retook the lead in the same spot a few laps later on the outside of Buras, who hounded Steyn for several laps as Chris Haldeman charged from 24th on grid and took the lead — also in Turn 12 a lap later. That order remained till the finish. Pardus also mounted a serious charge, starting from 28th on grid.
Post-race inspections revealed some technical infractions found in the first-, second-, and fourth-place cars, so the podium shifted. In the end, Steyn was declared the winner, with Preston Pardus in second and Teen Mazda driver Peter Ensor in third.
“My heart goes out to Chris Haldeman, Todd Buras and Brian Henderson. These are drivers that I consider good friends and tough competitors that I love to race with,” said Steyn in a post on Mazdaracers.com. “Definitely not the way any of us wants to win or lose.”