Dean Captures MX-5 Pole At Road Atlanta

John Dean captures the pole for Round 11 of the Mazda MX-5 Cup at Road Atlanta. (Photo: Alison Merion Padron)
John Dean captures the pole for Round 11 of the Mazda MX-5 Cup at Road Atlanta.
(Photo: Alison Merion Padron)

BRASELTON, Ga. — John Dean will be only the third different polesitter in 2013 as he will take to the grid in first for round 11 of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, part of the 16th annual Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta. Elliott Skeer will start second followed by championship leader Christian Szymczak in third.

Driving the No. 16 Projections Research/Sick Sideways MX-5, Dean recorded a time of 1:39.550 (91.853 mph) around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course, which was quick enough to claim the top position on the grid.

En route to earning his sixth career pole position, Dean eclipsed the qualifying lap record of 1:39.579 (91.826 mph) set by Michael Cooper in 2011. He will start Friday’s round 12 from fourth.

“I’m extremely happy to be on pole,” Dean said. “It’s somewhat unexpected, as the other guys are pretty fast here. We’ve been developing our setup with the Speedcraft Racing guys. We’ve gone back and forth, found a setup that works, then suddenly the weather changes and the car doesn’t work as well.

“We decided to start with our base setup and the car felt great, right off the bat. I put in a few fast laps early on, but wasn’t able to do anything after that. I think a lot of guys ran into the same scenario. It’s really going to be one hell of a race, with a lot of back-and-forth racing at the front.”

Skeer will start Thursday’s tound 11 from second after stopping the clock at 1:39.787 (91.635 mph) while driving the No. 17 Pelican Replacement Windows/ MX-5. He will start the race ahead of his championship rival, Szymczak, in both races scheduled this week.

As an added bonus, he collected an additional two points for capturing the pole for Friday’s round 12.

“We knew the car would be good on the sticker tires we put on for qualifying,” Skeer said. “We knew it was going to gain some speed, we just didn’t know how much speed or how much of a setup change was needed.

“We were close on the setup change, but not quite where we wanted to be. We got a couple solid laps early in the session that I felt pretty good about. I came in to make a change, went back out, and wasn’t able to do much with it. Either way, I knew it was going to be close at the front of the field.”

Szymczak, who turned a fast lap of 1:39.794 (91.628 mph), will start Thursday’s round 11 and Friday’s round 12 races from third.