The unexpected result in Spec Miata was that the winner was not a teenager. Ken Sutherland scored pole position, followed by Miatacage builder Sean Hedrick and SoCal’s Tyler Vance in third. Grid positions are determined by points accumulated during the week, not lap times, but it’s interesting to note that the top 13 cars of the 30-car field were all within .6 seconds of one another.
That makes for the kind of racing we expect from Spec Miata racing and we got it. The field barreled four wide into Turn 1, and everyone made it through without much incident. In fact, the Spec Miata race went the duration without any full-course cautions.
Sutherland led for the first three laps, followed by Hedrick in second and Vance in third. By lap four, Matt Schultz had sprinted from his sixth-place starting position to take the lead.
“I knew in the beginning I had to make a move to get up front,” Schultz said. “If I didn’t, I was going to be stuck in the draft with high water temps and a little loss of power. I was able to keep cool water temps and maintain a good pace and keep an eye on the guys behind me.”
Schultz capitalized on his lead and established a four-second gap between himself and second place, which changed hands between Hedrick, Vance and NorCal’s Kyle Loustanau. As often happens, the positions from second to fifth featured the best racing.
“It was quite a battle,” Vance said afterward. “Just the beginning was crazy because it was so close. I was trying to push away and get up with the front three cars. Everyone stuck with it. Everyone wanted to win it. I ended up getting shuffled back from second to seventh. From there I had to pick my places back.”
Vance clawed his way back to finish fifth behind Timothy Reger, who had the fast lap of the race at 2:19.924.
In the lap 10 shuffle that moved Vance back to seventh, Loustanau, who had been running in fourth and fifth, squirted up to second place ahead of Hedrick, who had Texas Spec Miata series leader Trevor McCallion nipping at his heels.
The next time the field passed start-finish, Hedrick had retaken second from Loustanau, who dropped back to fifth. So, with just four laps to go, it was Schultz in the lead, followed by Hedrick, Sutherland, who had started from pole, McCallion and Loustanau.
“We shuffled back and forth the whole race,” Loustanau said. “I took forever to get up front. I had the best handling car, but I was just getting killed in the straightaways.”
However, by the next lap, Loustanau had reclaimed second place, with Hedrick, Sutherland and McCallion just behind in that order. Sutherland jumped back up to third on lap 13, but fell back to seventh the very next lap. At the white flag, it was Schultz in first, Loustanau in second and McCallion in third, an order they would maintain till checkers.
“Where do I start?” McCallion asked rhetorically after the race. “We were side by side almost through the whole first lap, then we were freight training, trying to gain advantage there. A lot of good, clean racing. Tight, like it always is in Spec Miata. You can’t beat a day like this.”