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Noaker sweeps Global Mazda MX-5 Cup at Road America

Robert Noaker won both races of the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires Alana Long 100. Noaker’s path to victory was quite different, but Friday’s race at Road America ended just like Thursday’s, with a last lap pass by Noaker to take victory. Rookie Jared Thomas finished second, with Selin Rollan coming home in third.

Noaker, Gresham Wagner and Rollan resumed their fight from Race One at the drop of the green flag. Wagner (No.5 Spark Performance) led early on, before Noaker began his attack. Wagner attempted to get back to the front, but contact sent him into the Turn 12 gravel, ending his bid for a second Road America podium.

Then it was Rollan’s turn to out-maneuver Noaker, but he wasn’t alone. Former series champion Todd Lamb and multi-time race winner Robert Stout threw their hats in the ring as well, while Noaker shuffled back in the lead pack that consisted of nine cars. This pack contributed heavily to the 146 passes recorded during the 45-minute race.

With 10 minutes to go, Mazda Road to 24 Scholarship winner Jared Thomas wanted his turn at the front. On the final lap it was Thomas and Noaker that ran door-to-door through Turns Five and Six, with Noaker emerging as the leader. Just like in Race 1, Noaker was able to pull a small gap on the pack as the fight for the podium raged behind him. It was just enough to get his No.13 Copeland Motorsports Mazda MX-5 Cup car safely to the checkered flag, a scant 0.1831-second ahead of Thomas.

“There’s really no strategy,” Noaker said. “You just play with what you have. There were a couple of times I got freight-trained and shuffled back to sixth place and then going into Turn Five I end up being back in second.”

Friday’s race win completed a perfect season opener for Noaker, who topped practice times, earned pole for both races and won both races.

“We came into the weekend thinking we just wanted to finish the race, because Road America is so draft dependent; you could be first or you could be 10th, the lead pack is just that big,” Noaker said. “Here we are now, able to sweep the whole weekend! I just have to thank my partners Britney’s Hope, CPT Technologies, Mazda and Copeland Motorsports.”

Driving the No.96 Carter Racing Enterprises entry, Thomas learned a lot in his first Global Mazda MX-5 Cup race on Thursday that he was able to apply to Friday’s runner-up finish. Rollan’s late-race strategy did not go to plan and saw him clawing his way back to the final step on the podium. In a drag race to the finish, Rollan’s No. 87 Spark Performance machine crossed the line a mere 0.0985-second behind Thomas.

The No.27 Slipstream Performance car with Liam Snyder at the wheel finished 18th and was the highest ND1 entrant.

Global Mazda MX-5 Cup rejoins the NTT IndyCar Series for its next two races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, August 7 – 9.

07/26/20

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