Photo: Mazda MX-5 Cup

Busy stretch for Mazda MX-5 Cup begins in Indy this weekend

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The Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires championship kicked off its 2017 season almost two full months ago at Barber Motorsports Park, but will now properly kick the meat of its season into high gear over the next five weeks.

With six races at three venues, including a back-to-back stretch this week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and at Road America next week, then to the streets of Toronto July 14-16, the next five weeks will be pivotal in determining who emerges at the head of the cue for the full season in the single-make championship. After Toronto, there’s nearly a two-month break until the next round at Watkins Glen, Labor Day weekend in September.

At IMS, MX-5 Cup runs alongside the SVRA vintage weekend and Trans-Am.

Barber’s two races produced identical podiums: Patrick Gallagher of McCumbee McAleer Racing beating Winding Road Racing’s Mark Drennan and Sick Sideways Racing’s Nathanial Sparks, the defending series champion. As such, it leaves Gallagher in the points lead with 62 points to Drennan’s 51 and Sparks’ 45.

Gallagher, who at one stage raced in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda National class, has never actually race on the IMS road course. But having been a spectator in the past, he is amped for the opportunity now.

“I raced there in a quarter midget when I was six or seven, but I’ve never raced at the actual road course,” he said. “Of course, I had never been to Barber before either, and that turned out pretty well!  I mean, it’s Indianapolis, so it is really cool to get the chance to race there. I’ve been there as a spectator for the Indianapolis 500 and for the IMSA races.

“It’s probably one of the two or three tracks that you walk into and get goosebumps. I think you’ll see 15 cars nose to tail, and I’ve been told that it’s a pretty straight forward circuit. Steven (McAleer) has video from when he raced there in his ModSpace Mazda MX-5 ST car in IMSA so I’ve been looking at that.”

“Racing at the Speedway is something that every driver dreams of, no matter what their discipline is,” said David Cook, Manager, Mazda Motorsports Business Development. “We are fortunate to have this opportunity to add the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to the list of great tracks that Global MX-5 Cup competes on. With this track layout likely to encourage passing and so many closely matched cars, it should be some outstanding racing for our series that prides itself on parity.”

Both races will be live streamed this weekend on Mazda’s Facebook page and MazdaLive.com, Friday at 5:55 p.m. ET and Saturday at 5:10 p.m. ET.

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool