LEXINGTON, Ohio – Gresham Wagner topped every Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires session at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Friday.
His fast form continued in the afternoon qualifying session, where he broke his own lap record to win the pole position for Saturday’s Round Five race. He will share the front row with Michael Carter.
Wagner calls the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course his favorite on the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup calendar, and it’s easy to see why: he qualified on pole here last year and finished both races on the podium.
On Friday, Wagner (No. 5 Spark Performance) topped both practice sessions before leading the way in qualifying.
“Sparky [Spark Performance Team Principal Nathanial Sparks] had the car set up really good, right off the bat,” Wagner said. “I did the test sessions yesterday and didn’t have any complaints and we hardly changed anything. We just turned laps and I improved a little bit and we optimized what we had.
“That being said, it [Mid-Ohio] is pretty much my favorite track that the series goes to all year. I had a double podium here last year, so I was confident coming into this weekend that this would be a good track for us.
“I’m happy to perform well and that Sparky set the car up so well. Selin [Rollan] is performing really well, so as a team we are all at the top of our game right now.”
Helped by continued improvements in the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup car, Wagner beat his own Mid-Ohio qualifying lap record by a full second with a lap of 1:35.3177.
Michael Carter (No. 08 Carter Racing Enterprises) will share the front row with Wagner. The 2018 Mazda Road to 24 Scholarship winner clocked a lap of 1:35.5185.
Wagner’s teammate, Selin Rollan (No. 87 Spark Performance) will start third, alongside the current series points leader Robert Noaker (No. 13 Copeland Motorsports).
Two rookie drivers put in their best qualifying of the season; Matthew Dirks (No. 76 White Racing) will start fifth and John Geesbreght (No. 68 Migliore Motorsports) will start sixth.
Saturday’s Round Five race will take place in the morning and the weather is predicted to be in the low 60’s. Grip is already at a premium at Mid-Ohio, so the brisk weather will likely increase the time needed to get the BFGoodrich g-Force 215/610 tires to optimal temperatures.
While this could produce some precarious situations on the opening laps, Wagner believes it ultimately will keep the racing intense through the full distance for the 50-minute race.
“The colder conditions help on the long runs so it kind of evens out,” Wagner said. “You can really push for the longevity of the race and you don’t have to worry about the track getting greasy and the tires losing grip. You can still battle all the way to the end.”