Stevan McAleer recovered from a first lap off-course excursion to win his second SCCA Pro Racing Playboy MX-5 Cup race of the season on Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, crossing the finish line ahead of John Dean, of Sebring, Fla., and Nathan Sparks, of Spanish Fort, Alabama.
The Putnam Valley, N.Y., resident and Scotland native started on the pole in the No. 28 Numberix/Blue Mercury Capital/CJ Wilson Children's Charities MX-5 and led the field from the standing start to the Keyhole, Mid-Ohio's Turn 2. Going into the corner, Dean's No. 16 Projections Research/Sick Sideways Mazda MX-5 made contact with McAleer and sent him off the track.
McAleer rejoined the race in ninth position, and steadily moved through the field. On lap three, he was at the tail end of a seven-car train in the battle for the lead. He got the lead on the 23rd lap of 27 in the 45-minute timed race, and held the lead to the finish.
The two-time race winner averaged 80.665 mph in the 27-lap, 60.966-mile race and set the fastest lap of the race in 1:39.268 (81.887 mph) for a 0.386-second win.
"I'm super excited," McAleer said. "That was one of my favorite wins of all time. After the first lap, I just got my head down. I just tried to pick them off one at a time. I knew it was going to get much tougher at the front when we were up with John Dean and Dean Copeland. It was a little unfortunate what happened to [Copeland] because he was going to be right in the mix there for first place as well.
"There was never a plan to get to the front and try to pull away because I've realized that doesn't happen in the MX-5 Cup. Once I got to the front, I just wanted to play around when we had some time left. We ran pretty close, and on the last lap I managed to get a little bit of a gap on [Dean] and didn't really need to defend too much. It was a pretty amazing victory for me."
Dean was one of four different drivers who officially led at least one lap during a race that saw a front-running train of up to seven cars. Dean's teammate, Christian Szymczak, led the opening five laps and all but one of the first 13 in the No. 34 Projections Research/Sick Sideways MX-5, with Dean Copeland leading lap six and laps 14-18.
Copeland's shot at a win ended when, on lap 23, Dean reached for his Brakes