John Dean, of Sebring, Fla., took advantage of slower traffic to take the lead from Stevan McAleer, of Putnam Valley, N.Y., heading into Turn 1 on the final lap and went on to win the inaugural SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup race at the Coronado Speed Festival.
After starting third, Dean made his first appearance in the lead on the opening lap and led three different times for a total of 13 laps around the 1.7-mile Coronado Naval Air Station temporary circuit in the No. 16 Projections Research/Sick Sideways Mazda MX-5. He ran in the lead pack throughout the 45-minute, 37-lap event and was clearly in the right place at the right time as the white flag flew.
Once in front, Dean managed to hold off a final charge from McAleer and his CJ Wilson Racing teammate Elliott Skeer over the final lap. Dean won by 1.176 seconds ahead of Skeer, who took second coming off the final turn in the race.
It was quite a turnaround for Dean from a week ago at Virginia International Raceway, where he crashed on the final lap of the race. In fact, he was driving a car borrowed from Dean Copeland, who did not make the cross-country trip.
"The track was brutal," said Dean, who picked up his fourth victory of the season. "It's really bumpy out here, it's hot, I'm exhausted, the car is tired, the Brakes were going away, and I didn't think I was going to have anything to work with to make a pass. Lapped traffic hurt me and that's why I lost the lead there, and then McAleer ended up getting it in return at the end and I was able to slip by.
"Unfortunately, he tried to make a move on me in the last corner and Skeer just edged him out to the line, which kind of makes me happy. It was fun to watch. I've really got to thank Dean Copeland and Copeland Motorsports for loaning me their car. VIR was a nightmare for us and I didn't have anything to drive coming here. We brought his car out and it performed well. I can't thank him enough."
Skeer, who hails from nearby Vista, Calif., earned his fifth podium result of the season with the second-place run in the No. 17 MAZDASPEED/Sparco/Milgard Windows & Doors Mazda MX-5. The 18-year old led three laps early on and got a bit of revenge on McAleer, who stole the pole position from him on the final lap of Saturday's qualifying session.