WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — It is not even September yet, but Christmas could come extra early for Patrick Gallagher if he is able to lock down the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires championship this weekend at Watkins Glen Int’l.
Once again racing as part of a Verizon IndyCar Series event, the Global MX-5 Cup weekend will stage a double-race Saturday that could well see a champion crowned.
Gallagher has five wins so far this year and has managed to finish every race on the podium. That pace and consistency have earned him a 61-point advantage heading into the upstate New York weekend over 2016 Global MX-5 Cup champion Nathanial Sparks as Gallagher looks to claim the $200,000 Mazda scholarship that goes to the champion.
“I’d love nothing more than to clinch the championship at Watkins Glen for Howard Concrete Pumping, ModSpace and McCumbee McAleer Racing,” said Gallagher. “But I really am focused on going for wins, and the rest will take care of itself. I can’t be thinking about points. Our Global MX-5 Cup races are so wild and so competitive, you don’t really know where you are going to end up until the last lap so I’m just going to take each race as it comes and hopefully comes out on top.”
While Gallagher has accumulated an impressive points lead, it belies the fact that this year’s Global MX-5 Cup season has been the most competitive yet. Racing with cars that start on showroom floors, it is the driver that makes the difference with incredible parity in Global MX-5 Cup.
And the statistics back that up. In seven of the eight races run so far, the margin of victory was less than half a second, while six of the eight races had one or no caution periods. Every race has had multiple passes for the lead as well as averaging an amazing 214 passes for position.
In addition, eight different drivers have led races, and eight different drivers have earned the Battery Tender Hard Charger award.
While the overall championship picture could be close to finalization, the rookie of the year battle is still wide open. In addition to the two races on Saturday at Watkins Glen, the final two races of the Global MX-5 Cup season will be staged at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Just 21 points separate leader Bryan Ortiz, Robert Stout and Matt Cresci.
Ortiz broke through for his first podium with a run to third at Toronto but will have to fend off Stout who has two race victories to his credit. Cresci has claimed two pole positions so far this season but has some ground to make up if he will be seeing his name made out on the check from Mazda.
“I think that this rookie battle is shaping up to be very intense for the last four races,” said Ortiz. “Robert Stout and Matt Cresci are two great drivers and have shown that the three of us are contenders for podiums and wins every single weekend. So it is hard to get a distance from each other in the points. Copeland Motorsports has given me a great car every single weekend that makes it easier for me and I know that Watkins Glen and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca won’t be any different.”