MX-5 Cup Arrives at Mazda Raceway
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MONTEREY, Calif. (May 13, 2009) - For the fourth season in-a-row, the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup is heading back to where it all began: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. In 2006, MX-5 Cup made its debut at the famed Monterey track, with Chip Herr taking the win. Since then, the series has wowed race fans across North America with its highly entertaining races and crowned three Champions, each of whom have gone onto successful racing careers. This weekend, MX-5 Cup will continue on its quest to crown Champion number four, during the Verizon Festival of Speed Presented by SPEEDCOM weekend.

Currently leading the pack in the race for the 2009 MX-5 Cup is Marc Miller. After timing his race perfectly in the No. 28 MOCA/Race Now for Autism/Sparco MX-5 at Road Atlanta, Miller came away with a win in his first MX-5 Cup start. That's not to say that Miller is new to the series. For the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Miller served as Team MER's lead engineer and driver coach, impressive credentials considering Team MER has produced all three MX-5 Cup Champions. With his intimate knowledge of the courses and the cars, Miller could be setting the stage for another trophy on Team MER's mantle.

With MAZDASPEED MX-5 Cup shootout winner Justin Piscitell added to its roster, ALARA Racing is fully prepared to end Team MER's Championship streak. In his first professional race, Piscitell brought the No. 89 DAMG Racing/MAZDASPEED/ALARA MX-5 home in third, after battling with Miller and seasoned series regulars Mark and Mike Jenkins.

It was somewhat surprising to see Piscitell as the highest finishing ALARA car, since teammates Lyonel Kent and Ara Malkhassian had filled the front row of the starting grid. But, in MX-5 Cup, a front-row starting spot doesn't guarantee much. Driving the No. 13 ALARA Racing/eData Solutions MX-5, Kent began to battle gearbox problems in the race and slowly faded to a seventh-place finish. Though he led the most laps at Road Atlanta, Malkhassian made a couple unsuccessful passing attempts in the No. 11 ALARA Racing MX-5, which lost him ground and the all-important draft. The result was a 10th-place finish for the ALARA team owner. Although it was not the results the team was after, the weekend sent a clear message that ALARA will be tough to beat this season.

Atlanta Motorsports Group driver Brett Smrz collected his best Road Atlanta finish at Round One, crossing the finish line in fifth. Smrz, who races with the aid of a prosthesis after having a portion his leg amputated following a trampoline accident in 2007, has not raced an MX-5 Cup car at Mazda Raceway before, but has several Formula Ford F1600 wins here. Look for his No. 6 SmrzRacing/InTouch Physical Therapy MX-5 to be near the front all weekend.
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