Kenton Koch sweeps Grand Prix of Houston

Sunday, Jun 29 1561

Kenton Koch, of Glendora, California, two-stepped into back-to-back wins, after finishing Sunday’s race in the top position, in the SCCA Pro Racing MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires, in support of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. Nathanial Sparks, of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and Sebastian Landy, of Great Falls, Virginia, completed the podium.

The 25-lap race, which averaged 62.146 mph, was slowed by four laps run behind the pace car. The full-course yellow flag was displayed for the car of Austin Snader that was stranded in the middle of the course, just past Turn Five.
In the No. 12 ALARA Racing/Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5, Koch started Sunday’s Round Six race on the pole position. On the rolling start, a change from the traditional standing one, Koch was able to hold off second-place driver John Dean in the opening corners. That allowed him to open some track between himself and Dean by the start of lap one.
“This is the first sweep for ALARA Racing this year,” Koch said. “The car just got faster and faster throughout the weekend. I was beating the living crap out of the car and it just kept going. It was great to see how this car and BFGoodrich tires held up.
“It wasn’t as humid today, and we put some driver cooling in the car, so that helped a lot. I was a little frustrated to see the full-course yellow flag come out. I thought it was going to hurt us, but we were able to hold them off.”
Sparks was able to take advantage of three-wide racing ahead of him to make some big moves up the standings. After restarting in sixth, on lap 22, Sparks was able to maneuver his No. 8 OOTSK Performance/Bimmerworld MX-5 to the second position by the time the checkered flag was shown.
“I started off the race by getting behind the two X-Factor Racing cars,” Sparks said. “They were the real show out there. They were out there pushing hard and nicking walls. I was dodging fenders and other stuff, but was able to keep my nose clean.
“This is such an aggressive track, and I’m more of the type of driver that will hang back and make the smart move. It can hurt me at some tracks, but it seems to be the way to go here. I’m not going to say I didn’t touch the wall, but I touched it less than some of the other drivers, which allowed me to get to the front of the field.”
Landy ended the weekend on a high note, capturing the final podium position while driving the No. 29 Motorsports Group MX-5. The finish came as a boost to the young Virginian as he said he spent most of the race weekend looking for more speed.
“This finish does a good job of showing the hard work that was done by this Atlanta Motorsports Group team all weekend,” Landy said. “It was a pretty tough weekend. We were able to build some pace yesterday until I hit the wall. I knew we had a pretty good car; it just came down to fighting through some traffic.
“When John [Dean] and Kenton [Koch] made contact on the restart, I thought I might have a chance for the lead. But, we just ran out of time.”
Timothy Paul, of Mahopac, New York, notched his first top-five in Mazda MX-5 Cup competition by bringing home a fourth-place finish in his No. 6 ALARA Racing/Cellmark MX-5.
Following Paul to the finish line was Timothy Reger, of Houston. Driving the No. 19 X-Factor Racing MX-5, Reger scored his first top-five in the class and was the highest finishing driver from Texas during both rounds.
In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Ben Albano, of Greenwich, Connecticut, took home the victory in Round Six. Driving the No. 61 Project Yellow Light SBMX-5, he took the class lead by the end of lap one and never looked back.
“There was a lot to avoid out there,” Albano said. “I was able to get a great start and build a gap to Drake [Kemper], in second. He got caught behind some Cup cars and I just made the most out of every opportunity I had.”
“Rolling starts are what I’m used to, so it was nice to have that during this race. It was like going back home.”
Drake Kemper, of Toluca Lake, California, followed up his Saturday win with a second-place finish at the controls of his No. 99 Royal Rugby SBMX-5. Robby Foley, of Randolph, New Jersey, finished on the third step of the podium for the second time during the doubleheader event.
The SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires is slated to for another doubleheader event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, July 11-13.


Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

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