Szymczak Claims MX-5 Cup Victory

Christian Szymczak (center) is flanked by John Dean (left) and Nathanial Sparks Thursday at Sebring Int'l Raceway. (SCCA photo)
Christian Szymczak (center) is flanked by John Dean (left) and Nathanial Sparks Thursday at Sebring Int’l Raceway. (SCCA photo)

SEBRING, Fla. — Christian Szymczak is on the verge of a clean sweep at Sebring Int’l Raceway.

The driver from Palos Verdes, Calif., ran way with the win in race one of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, part of the 61st Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.

In 15 laps driving the No. 34 ALARA Racing MX-5, Szymczak managed to put nearly two seconds between himself and the second place car of former teammate and Sebring native John Dean.

“It’s been a very good week for us,” Szymczak said. “We started out on the right foot. We were fast in testing. We’ve been trying to work with the car with my new team, ALARA, and they’ve done a fantastic job. We’ve got a really good engineer over there that knows how to set these cars up. The car has been working fantastically since day one.

“It was a great battle with Nathanial for the first few laps. He was in the draft and I thought it was going to be a great battle. And then John was right there and making a big charge. That was a little scary. I just had to keep my head together and make consistent laps and that’s exactly what I did. I feel very fortunate to be able to win.”

Dean, in his No. 16 Projections Research/PPG MX-5, came home second. In the process, Dean also set the race lap record with a 2:30.727 (89.327 mph).

“We had a good race. It feels so good to be up here as a team with Nathanial Sparks and Christian,” Dean said of sharing the podium with the two drivers that were his teammates in 2012. “It’s a little bittersweet with Christian — it came one year too late.

“Early on in the race, I missed a gear coming out of the hairpin and lost a lot of ground. Had a good battle with Ara [Malkhassian] for a while,” Dean said. “I was able to get back up and get in a draft with Nathanial. We were able to work together and get away from the other guys. Sparky was able to point me by and give me the road to try and drag him up to the front. But Christian was really strong today. He had great pace. Congratulations to him for the win.”

Nathanial Sparks followed his Sick Sideways Racing teammate to the stripe to take third.

Elliott Skeer and Ara Malkhassian completed the top five.