McAleer Scores Playboy MX-5 Cup Season Opener at Sebring
SEBRING, Fla. (March 15, 2012) - Polesitter Stevan McAleer, of Putnam Valley, N.Y., conquered his first-ever standing start and led the full distance to the checkered flag to score the win in the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy MX-5 Cup opener at Sebring International Raceway, part of the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida. CJ Wilson Racing teammate Eliott Skeer, of Vista, Calif., and Sebring's John Dean completed the podium.
While all three top-finishers were making their professional debuts, McAleer led away from the start in the No. 28 Children's Charities/Blue Mercury Capital/RUfocused.com/Sambo website Design Mazda MX-5 with his teammate in tow. The two used the draft and a drive through penalty from third-starting Lyonel Kent's No. 12 ALARA Racing MX-5 to pull away from the field in the 30-minute timed race.
McAleer ticked off the laps, pulling a three-second gap on Skeer's No. 17 MAZDASPEED/Sparco/Pelican Windows & Remodeling MX-5 by the midway point of the race. From there, the new Championship point leader opened up a 5.538-second margin of victory by the conclusion of the 12-lap, 44.4-mile race. McAleer also ran the fastest lap of the race in 2:31.568 (87.881 mph) around the 3.7-mile circuit.
"I think my main concern there was I knew I had the speed, I was just a little worried about the start and getting the car off the line," McAleer said. "Especially with us being so close to turn one, I knew all the cars were going to be flat through there. I managed to do an ok start. They caught me a little bit and I just got my head down and started working. Elliott was helping out and we managed to pull a gap to the third place car. I just started to keep away a little bit from him myself. No mistakes in the first race of the year, I just wanted to make sure we bring the car home and it's a super result for the team.
"It puts more [pressure] on because now they're coming for me."
Skeer's runner-up finish was also a successful launch for the MAZDASPEED Ladder Shootout winner for 2012.
"I feel like overall this weekend has been great so far," Skeer said of his debut. "A couple ups and downs here and there, but I feel like for my first professional race it was really good, just consistent and keeping it clean.