MONTEREY, Calif. – Elliott Skeer won race two of the the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup doubleheader at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, propelling him to the top of the championship standings Saturday.
Patrick Gallagher finished second, with Ara Malkhassian in tow, finishing third.
Driving the No. 17 MX-5, Skeer moved around polesitter Christian Szymczak and his ALARA Racing teammate Malkhassian on lap one at the 2.238-mile, 11-Turn road course. Skeer held off early challenges by the ALARA teammates, until Szymczak’s No. 34 ALARA Racing MX-5 came to a rest near turn eight with a mechanical issue.
Skeer eventually pulled out to a 5.3-second victory in the 55.95-mile race, averaging 74.705 mph.
“After yesterday, where Christian [Szymczak] walked away from us all, we were really trying to figure out how we were going to combat that, and get back up there,” Skeer said. “It was a pretty good start. Ara [Malkhassian] got me, so, it was an ALARA one-two. I was a little nervous that was going to happen, but made it back to the front.
“We led and started to pull a little bit, then Christian [Szymczak] started to fade with, I guess, some sort of mechanical. I don’t want to have to take the win in that sort of circumstance, but you take it how you get it. As soon as he fell back, that lap and the next two, I was able to open up a little bit of a gap and go into time-trial mode, just hitting my apexes, trying to make every lap within a tenth of the last lap, just trying to stay consistent.”
Gallagher, driving the No. 28 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development MX-5, finished a career-best second, following his top-five finish on Friday. By lap eight, he had moved from his fifth-place grid position to the rear bumper of Malkhassian, who held second at the time. That battle lasted for six laps, until Gallagher was able to make a pass stick, taking second from Malkhassian for good
“I got stuck there in the middle of the front pack for a majority of the race,” Gallagher said. “I was able to get close to Elliott [Skeer] at the front, but being in traffic held me back. I just had to deal with each and every person, and get by them. It was a tough second-place finish.”