NASA NorCal’s Mark Drennan is no stranger to the front of the pack, which is something of an anomaly in Spec Miata — because he’s actually old enough to drink the champagne handed out at the podium ceremony.
In familiar fashion, Drennan was a dominant figure in Spec Miata during the Western States Championships presented by Toyo Tires. His efforts were good enough to earn him the pole position for the Championship race on Sunday. Hot on his heels were fellow Northern California boys Kyle Loustaunau in second and Matthew Cresci in third.
When the green flag dropped, Drennan jumped to a commanding lead and held it for 10 laps of the 45-minute race. Next time past Start-Finish, however, Loustaunau had claimed the lead and Drennan had shuffled back to fourth.
“It started in Turn 11. I missed my brake pedal and had to do a panic stop and I was sliding all over the place, so I ended up overheating the tires,” Drennan said. “So when I went into Turn 6, the car snapped loose and got into a major tank slapper.”
That moved Cresci up to third, with Hernan Palermo just ahead. Palermo had fought through the pack from his 15th-place starting position to second place, a fantastic start and effort clawing through the field.
“Fortunately I was able to get through the pack pretty early in the race and these guys were fighting each other a little bit, so I was able to pull them in,” Palermo said. “Once the three of us were together, we kind of took off from the rest of the pack and my tires got a little bit greasy toward the end, so I didn’t have enough speed to do anything more than second.”
Drennan took three laps to pass Cresci for third, a position he would keep till the finish, which was flagged early due to two 944 Spec cars that wrecked in the Carousel turn. In the end, it was Loustaunau for the win, with Palermo in second and Drennan in third.
“It was quite a race,” Loustaunau said. “At the start, Drennan and I were nose to tail. We went into Turn 7 side by side, and I got a good run on him. I was in the marbles and he was on clean track and I kind of hit his door a little bit and it pushed my left front fender into my tire and I had horrible push for the entire race. It got a little bit better three laps later. It was pretty terrible, but luckily the fender pushed itself back out and I was able to hang on.”