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.

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).