Nick Evans, of Powell, Ohio, continued to set the pace in Saturday’s SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup qualifying at Mosport International Raceway. After topping Friday’s practice, Evans earned the pole for Sunday’s Round Nine of 11 race, part of the Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Mosport weekend.
Evans turned a time of 1:35.571 (92.626 mph) in the No. 28 Team MER/Mazda/Sparco Mazda MX-5 to establish a new Series qualifying record at Mosport and earn the top starting spot on the grid. The pole is Evans’ third in four races.
“At Team MER, we like to work together in qualifying, and we were able to do it very effectively this time,” Evans said. “We had to make sure each driver was able to feed off the other drivers and get a good tow. We gave each of us an opportunity to do that in the beginning, and my lap held up. It seemed like the laps came early, and then they fell off a little bit and we couldn’t get back down there. I was lucky it held up. It’s going to be really close in the race, but I’ve got my teammates with me and as long as we work together, we’ll be fine.”
The session almost ended before it began for Evans with a small problem in pit lane while waiting on the green flag.
“I don’t know what happened,” Evans explained. “The engine just died on pit lane, and it was idling really rough. Once it was under power it was fine, and there wasn’t any issue. Anything like that freaks me out, and it might have all been in my head. Luckily, it was fine.”
Starting alongside Evans in the front row is Michael Cooper, of Syosset, N.Y., who turned a best time of 1:35.694 (92.507 mph) in the No. 84 AMG Racing/Bromante Landscaping & Design MX-5. With the effort, Cooper earns a valuable Championship point that leaves him just six points behind Justin Piscitell with just three races remaining.
Piscitell (No. 89 Team MER/DAMG Worldwide/Merchant Services MX-5) and Brad Rampelberg (No. 4 AMG Racing/Mazda/Cobalt Brakes), who sits just 12 points behind Piscitell in the Championship, qualified sixth and seventh, respectively, and outside of the bonus points awarded to the top-five qualifiers. Just 0.734-second separates Rampelberg’s lap from Evans’ pole, however, leaving both Championship contenders in the hunt for Sunday’s race.
Qualifying third and starting on the second row is Russell Walker, of Dallas, Texas, driving the No. 29 Team MER Mazda MX-5. Walker turned a best time of 1:36.063 (92.152 mph) to earn his best starting position in the MX-5 Cup, topping a previous best of sixth at Autobahn Country Club.
Walker will share the second row with Jesse Combs’ No. 77 ALARA Racing/coolgas.com MX-5, after Combs posted a best time of 1:36.239 (91.983 mph). It marks the fifth-consecutive top-five starting position for Combs, who sits fourth in the Championship.
Jeff Mosing also earned his best starting position of the season, qualifying fifth in the No. 30 Team MER/Frank’s International/RaceNowForAutism MX-5 with a best time of 1:36.271 (91.953 mph).
The SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup field will take the green flag at 10:25 a.m. EDT on Sunday, Round Nine of 11 in the Championship. To follow notes and timing, please visit www.mx-5cup.com.
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