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Koch Scores Mazda MX-5 Cup Pole For Round Five At Grand Prix Of Houston
Posted by: newsla on Jun 28, 2014 - 05:39 PM
Sports Cars
Koch Scores Mazda MX-5 Cup Pole For Round Five At Grand Prix Of Houston

Kenton Koch, of Glendora, California, will start Saturday’s Round Five of the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires, part of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston at NRG Park, from the first position. John Dean, of Sebring, Florida, and Patrick Gallagher, of Thornville, Ohio, completed the top three.


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In his No. 12 ALARA Racing/Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5, Koch finished the 30-minute qualifying session with best lap of 1:22.536 (71.270 mph). Koch said he is feeling very comfortable at the controls of his machine, and it shows as his lap time broke the previous qualifying record by 1.5 seconds.

“The car is very solid,” Koch said. “At this point the only thing that can go wrong is me. I think things are starting to turn around this season. I’ve gotten my head in the game.

“Mentally, I wasn’t there in the first three races. At Mazda Raceway I figured something out during Round Four and got my head back in the game. I’ve really been working this weekend on my focus and it seems to be paying off, finally.”

Dean will start Rounds Five and Six from the second starting position after setting a fast lap of 1:22.619 (71.199 mph). In the No. 16 Projections Research/PPG MX-5, Dean will give up five markers in his Championship lead as a result of the qualifying order.

“I think I did all I could during that session,” Dean said. “It stinks for the Championship, but the goal is to get through this weekend. We’re trying to get through this in one piece because we only have three days between getting home from this race and leaving for the next event, in Canada.

“My plan isn’t to necessarily race conservatively. I’m not quite sure what conservative means when behind the wheel of a racecar. Before the race everyone has their plan, but it never works out that way. I’m not going to plan. I’m just going to go out there and do what I do best, make a good start and drive as hard as I can.”

Gallagher has been struggling to find time this weekend in his No. 28 MedBuild/Henry Schein/ModSpace MX-5. He took a giant leap forward by assembling a mid-session lap of 1:22.933 (70.929 mph), which was good enough for the third spot on the grid.

“We’ll be good for the race,” Gallagher said. “I think our car is more consistent than Dean’s car. I’m not sure about Koch, but I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.

“Things will be pretty close for the race. I think there will be a four-car breakaway, five at the most. I think Dean is going to try to get in front of Kenton [Koch] on the start and get him stuck in traffic. I’m just going to try and keep my nose clean. If they break away at the front, I’ll make my move. We’ll start moving and shaking during the last 15 minutes.”

Rookie Joey Bickers, of Moorpark, California, will start Round Five from the fourth position, after setting a best time of 1:23.248 (70.661 mph). Bickers has spent most of the weekend toward the top of the speed charts in the No. 29 Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5, and was able to keep pace with the rest of the field as they picked up time from Friday’s practice.

Lucas Catania, of Cazenovia, New York, completed the top five starters for Saturday’s race in his No. 17 Atlanta Motorsports Group/NY Spine & Wellness/SOS MX-5. He claimed the position with a lap time of 1:23.422 (70.513 mph).

In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Drake Kemper, of Toluca Lake, California, was at the top of the class. His time of 1:24.574 (69.553 mph) was good enough for the pole at the controls of the No. 99 Royal Rugby SBMX-5.

“I decided against using new tires for the qualifying session,” Kemper said. “I figured since we were only on track for about 40 minutes on Friday that these BFGoodrich tires would still be in good shape. I wanted to save my fresh tires for the race.

“I happened to go out and put myself in a good position, on track, where the traffic would help me, instead of hinder me. I grouped up with some Cup cars and was able to keep from over-working the brakes. Survival is number one at a street course. Before you can think about winning you have to bring the car home in one piece.”

Ben Albano, of Greenwich, Connecticut, stopped the clock at 1:24.975 (69.225 mph). That time was good enough for the second starting position. Robby Foley, of Randolph, New Jersey, claimed the third position with a lap of 1:25.168 (69.068 mph).

The SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires is next in action for the Round Five race, starting at 12:10 p.m. (CDT). Round Six is slated to take place on Sunday, at noon (CDT).

Stay up to date with the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires by going to www.mx-5cup.com. Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/MazdaMX5Cup and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @MazdaMX5Cup.

HOUSTON, TX - Starting lineup for Saturday's SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires Round Five race, part of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, with position, class, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.

1, MX, (12), Kenton Koch(R), Glendora, Calif., MX-5, 1:22.536, 71.270.
2, MX, (16), John Dean II, Sebring, Fla., MX-5, 1:22.619, 71.199.
3, MX, (28), Patrick Gallagher, Thornville, Ohio, MX-5, 1:22.933, 70.929.
4, MX, (29), Joey Bickers(R), Moorpark, Calif., MX-5, 1:23.248, 70.661.
5, MX, (17), Lucas Catania(R), Cazenovia, N.Y., MX-5, 1:23.422, 70.513.
6, MX, (49), Sebastian Landy, Great Falls, Va., MX-5, 1:23.432, 70.505.
7, MX, (6), Timothy Paul(R), Mahopac, N.Y., MX-5, 1:23.518, 70.432.
8, MX, (48), Michael Cooper, Syossett, N.Y., MX-5, 1:23.576, 70.383.
9, MX, (8), Nathanial Sparks, Spanish Fort, Ala., MX-5, 1:23.781, 70.211.
10, MX, (19), Timothy Reger(R), Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:23.952, 70.068.
11, MX, (11), Ara Malkhassian, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:24.140, 69.912.
12, MX, (20), Chris Haldeman(R), Princeton, Texas, MX-5, 1:24.246, 69.824.
13, MX, (51), Austin Snader(R), Brookshire, Texas, MX-5, 1:24.305, 69.775.
14, MX, (27), Brandon Kidd, Manlius, N.Y., MX-5, 1:24.706, 69.445.
15, MX, (18), Joseph Catania(R), Cazenovia, N.Y., MX-5, 1:25.305, 68.957.
16, MX, (23), Christian Tetzlaff, Athens, Ga., MX-5, 1:25.638, 68.689.
17, MX, (35), Devin Jones(R), Mooresville, N.C., MX-5, 1:25.863, 68.509.
18, MX, (79), Spencer Patterson(R), Pittsburgh, Pa., MX-5, 1:26.540, 67.973.

1, SBMX, (99), Drake Kemper, Toluca Lake, Calif., SB MX-5, 1:24.574, 69.553.
2, SBMX, (61), Ben Albano, Greenwich, Conn., SB MX-5, 1:24.975, 69.225.
3, SBMX, (93), Robby Foley, Randolph, N.J., SB MX-5, 1:25.168, 69.068.
4, SBMX, (63), Bryan Hixon, San Antonio, Texas, SB MX-5, 1:25.605, 68.715.
5, SBMX, (94), Sarah Montgomery, Lafayette, La., SB MX-5, 1:26.463, 68.033.
6, SBMX, (60), Zach Lee, San Antonio, Texas, SB MX-5, 1:26.754, 67.805.
7, SBMX, (65), Felix Borodaty, Short Hills, N.J., SB MX-5, 1:29.359, 65.828

Image: Kenton Koch pushes his Mazda MX-5 to the max during qualifying at the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston.
Credit: Steve Bernstein

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