“Crazy is an understatement for what happened out on the track,” Sparks said. “You come here knowing it’s going to be close, but you never can fully expect what is going to happen. I can’t wait to go back and watch the in-car footage.
“At most places it comes down to who can physically drive better, but here it’s all about the mental battle and finding who can help keep you out front. If it weren’t for my teammate, John Dean, I wouldn’t be here right now. I’m really glad we’re here and competitive, as a team, for tomorrow.”
In his No. 49 Excitations.com/Atlanta Motorsports Group MX-5, Landy spent most of the race at the tail end of the lead draft. While not continually dicing for the lead, Landy was able to sit back and size up his competition.
“There were six of seven cars that could have walked away with the win,” Landy said. “The Sick Sideways guys and Dean Copeland were strong. For the most part it was tough to hang with the leaders, and I wasn’t sure I had anything for them. As the race went on, things came to me a little more. I tried to take advantage of the opportunities and came home third. It was great.
“On the last lap, it came down to me working with Dean [Copeland] since he was the only guy with whom I could work. I just tried to see if we could both get by the Sick Sideways guys. I got him to the lead and I was able to get in front of John [Dean]. It was great racing with Sparks through Canada Corner. It was just a great race, the whole way around.”
John Dean finished fourth in his No. 16 Projections Research/PPG MX-5. As the laps wound down, Dean was in the mix for the race lead. He just didn’t have the placement to get to the point position.
Championship Leader Kenton Koch brought his No. 12 ALARA Racing/Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5 home in fifth. Koch hung with the leaders early on, but had lost close contact with the front-running group by lap 14. He spent the remaining three laps fighting to hold the fifth position.
In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Drake Kemper took a hard-fought win. Kemper, Ben Albano and Lucas Bize were all scored as lap leaders during the race, but Kemper was able to put his No. 99 Royal Rugby SBMX-5 in the right place when it counted.
“That was the most insane 45 minutes of my entire life,” Kemper said. “We probably switched positions 30 different times since there were four official leaders in our class. There wasn’t a lap where the drivers in the lead group didn’t change positions at least once.
“Coming into this weekend, I was worried about this track. On TV, it looks much wider than it is and with more grip. When I figured that it was none of those things, I got even more worried. I’m happy though. We qualified with a double pole, and we’re looking to get a double win.”
Lucas Bize finished second followed by Robby Foley who completed the podium.