Race Recap: NASA FL Homestead March 23-24 2013

The 5X Racing team visited Homestead-Miami Speedway again this past weekend for the second round of the NASA Florida Spec Miata Challenge, which just happens to be the series 5X Racing supports and sponsors! 

For the second race of the NASA FL calendar the infield club course configuration was chosen, so instead of using the NASCAR banking, the track cuts back into the infield before NASCAR oval Turn 3. This provides a very scary, flat out 100mph dive down the track, across the apron, and into the infield in what is known simply as "turn 10" to most competitors. This turn separates the insane from the sane drivers, as extremely good car control and no regard for life or limb is needed to consistently go flat out through turn 10 lap after lap. At the end of the race, a driver that goes flat out through turn 10 consistently will find themselves several seconds ahead of their competitors who do not go flat out. So, to win at Homestead, one must conquer "turn 10"! Luckily for John Adamczyk, driver of the #55 5X Racing Spec Miata, turn 10 is not an issue and he can go flat out through it consistently, which led to a very successful weekend for the 5X Racing Spec Miata Team! 

The weekend started off with a short warm-up practice session, which the team used to gently break-in the new Toyo RR race tires we'd just installed. From the on-set, we felt as if these tires were going to be something special, and as the weekend progressed they did in fact prove to be an excellent tire as compared to the SCCA spec Hoosier SM6 tire we've been running, both in feel and lap times. In Saturday’s qualifying session, John posted a fast lap of 1:48.377, which was well enough to put him on pole position for the race, and just 3/10th's of a second away from the lap record of 1:48.012 set by Selin Rollan last September! Unfortunately, John's car showed too light in the post race impound weight check scales and his times were void, which meant having to start from last place in Race 1. Despite starting from last place, John found his way back up to 3rd place before a full course caution caught him up to Alex Bolanos in 2nd and Gar Robinson in 1st. On the restart, John tucked in behind Bolanos as he went for an inside pass going into turn 2, but ended up pushing out wide causing himself and Robinson to leave the door open underneath going into turn 3. John dove to the inside and nabbed both 2nd and 1st place in one shot. With Bolanos and Robinson fighting for 2nd, it gave John the opportunity to concentrate on not making any mistakes and take home the win. All podium finishers passed the post race tech check as the results were made official.

Race 2, which was the feature race on Saturday afternoon brought the same three competitors to the front for another battle, this time for points and contingency money! Adamczyk, Bolanos, and Robinson battled with each other throughout the whole race, and with only 4 laps to go Robinson made a move to the inside of Adamczyk coming off super sketchy turn 10 and suddenly lost his brakes, causing him to put his car on the grass to the left of the track, eventually sliding sideways across the inside of the turn, nearly catching the curbing edge with his tires, then shot across the bow of Adamczyk eventually coming to a stop on the outside of turn 11! This was a scary moment for both Adamczyk and more specifically Robinson, as the #74 car of Robinson could have very nearly caught the edge of the curb and rolled as the #55 car watched in the whole thing happen in helpless slow motion. Luckily, the #74 car only bent a couple of wheels and most certainly needed an alignment adjustment in a situation that could have been much, much worse. As the last few laps came to a close, Bolanos pulled up to Adamczyk and challenged for 1st place, but a few missed shifts by Bolanos allowed Adamczyk to go on and take his second win of the weekend. Mark Gibbons joined the podium and nabbed 3rd place which put a cap on the day's results. All competitors once again passed weight check, and also were checked for restrictor plates, exhaust sizes, sway bar sizes, and track width. Every car was found legal, and the podium finishers were awarded their trophies at the awards ceremony celebration that evening. 

Sunday morning saw several competitors sitting out qualifying from either mechanical troubles, or sheer exhaustion from the previous days unseasonably hot March weather in southern Florida. The missed shifts Bolanos experienced in Race 2 turned out to be more than just a missed shift, so he retired with transmission troubles before the race even started. However, Bolanos' absence was filled as Jeff Ware, a fresh graduate of Saturdays NASA Competition Evaluation School joined the Spec Miata ranks for the first time and began his Spec Miata career! Jeff qualified well in his flat black 1999 Mazda Miata, securing a 6th place starting position. Race 3 reignited the Adamczyk/Robinson battle, as the two once again found the front of the SM field and fought for the 1st position until Robinson found himself with his own transmission troubles on lap 6 coming out of the turn 9 hairpin onto the back straight. Robinson retired his #74 car as his crew commenced a major transmission replacement job to return the car to service before the last race of the day. With Robinson out and Bolanos a non-start, this allowed Mark Gibbons to secure a 2nd place finish and earn good points and a handy Toyo contingency certificate for the day! Also, Derik Royal put forth a notable run to 3rd place before spinning on the last lap, which handed the last step on the podium to CP Denis in his Momo sponsored black and blue 1999 Miata. The biggest accomplishment came in the form of the newbie Jeff Ware taking home 4th place in his first ever SM race! Jeff was even awarded Toyo bucks for his effort, and most certainly was happy with his result after all his hard work and diligence coming up through the NASA FL HPDE program. Great job Jeff!

Race 4 was a fun run that most competitors decided to sit out due to its late start time, and ineligibility for points or contingencies. Nonetheless, with only 5 SM's competing, Gar Robinson and Mark Gibbons fought gallantly for the win. Gibbons pushed Robinson for all it was worth, but came home in 2nd after lapped traffic came into play. Gar should be applauded for his triumphant return to the track after his crew replaced his transmission in less than a few hours, returning him to the track and allowing him to secure a win on the last chance of the weekend!  For the full race results, please visit the mylaps.com page here: http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=876206

The SM madness will resume when the NASA Florida Spec Miata Challenge visits Sebring International Raceway on April 27-28th for the 3rd round of the season. This should be a good event as many competitors plan to attend and continue their strong runs, or redeem their difficulties from Homestead. Please join the fun if you're a Spec Miata racer, or come out and cheer on your favorite driver! All event info and registration details can be found here: http://www.drivenasafl.com/scheduleresults/sebring/