Rampelberg Edges Copeland At VIR In Closest Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Race History
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Danville,Va.(April 25, 2010)-Brad Rampelberg, ofSan Jose,Calif., edged Dean Copeland, ofBowie,Md., by just 0.024-second at VIRginia International Raceway in the closest SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup race in the history of the series. Michael Cooper, ofSyossett,N.Y., finished third.

Rampelberg started the race from the pole in the No. 4 AMG Racing/Mazda/Cobalt Brakes Mazda MX-5, and held the lead through the first of 20 laps in the 45-minute timed race. With a 1.109-second lead after one lap and still holding a 1.084-second lead after three laps, Rampelberg seemingly was cruising to a win.

The fourth lap changed everything, as a big run from Copeland in the No. 7 Copeland Motorsports/Insynch Radios Mazda MX-5 down the front straight to start the lap gave him the lead for the first time. Mat Pombo, theNo. 84 AMG Racing/Bromante Landscaping&Design Mazda MX-5 of Cooper, Justin Piscitell and Nick Evans joined the two battling for the lead in a six-car breakaway from the rest of the field.

Copeland and Rampelberg would swap the lead virtually every lap with the other four cars in tow until Lap 17, when Pombo slid off-course in the No. 01 PFM Pombo Racing/Range of Motion ATL/Carbotech Mazda MX-5 at turn 17. The off-course excursion pulled the No. 01 machine's rear bumper cover loose and shrunk the lead pack to five cars.

The lead pair continued to swap the point until crossing the stripe to begin lap 18, when Rampelberg led by 0.299-second. Rampelberg held the lead for the next two laps until the field was given the white flag to begin the final tour around the 17-turn, 3.27-mile circuit.

Copeland had one final charge remaining, and slipped past Rampelberg on the back straight entering turn 14. A bobble through the turn 17 and 17a complex allowed Rampelberg to pull along side Copeland and the drag race was on down the front straight.

At the finish line, Rampelberg edged the nose of his machine just ahead of Copeland for the win, the closest finish in MX-5 Cup history. The previous closest margin of victory was a 0.090-second win forTodd Burasover Payton Wilson at Mosport International Raceway in 2006.

It was Rampelberg's third career MX-5 Cup victory, and first sinceMillerMotorsportsParkin 2008.

"Dean was better through Oak Tree coming onto the back straight," Rampelberg said. "I felt like I was a little better on the last turn. I thought if I could get a good run on the white flag lap coming out of Oak Tree, I could hold him off. That was my only goal on that lap. When he came out of there right on my bumper, I thought it was over. He passed me and I got on the radio and told my guys we lost the race. Then I thought to myself, I've got one more shot at this, laid back going through Hog Pen [turn 17] and rolled right through onto the front straight.
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