Carbonell Scores Storybook Finish For Dwyer With Last-Lap Pass
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Carbonell Scores Storybook Finish For Dwyer With Last-Lap Pass


It would be hard to top the script of Dwyer's first ST victory, when he teamed with Tom Long to win at Lime Rock Park on Memorial Day weekend in 2014 on the third anniversary of his near-fatal injuries sustained while serving in Afghanistan.

But Dwyer did just that on Saturday. Co-driver Carbonell passed Long for the lead on the final lap with only two turns remaining with Dwyer and Denning - who waved the green flag to start the race - cheering from the team's pit box.

"I didn't think the emotions from Memorial Day could be matched," Dwyer said. "But to have Sgt. Denning here - and see me win like this, to see what this has done for my recovery - is hard to describe. It seems too good to be true."

Dwyer was running 12th when he pitted to turn the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 over to Carbonell. Rejoining the race in 22nd, Carbonell then went to work.

He was running fourth but behind the lead trio when the final caution waved with 18 minutes remaining. Carbonell closed in at the restart. He got around Christian Szymczak to take second racing to the white flag, and then passed Long for the lead in Turn 10 on the final lap, holding off his teammate by .247 seconds.

Carbonell scored his third consecutive victory at Mazda Raceway - and fourth in five years - while Mazda recorded its fifth straight triumph at its home track.

"At the end of the day, it was no easy job catching up to that lead pack," Carbonell said. "Once I did, it was all a matter of putting it all together. It was fair, clean racing. Tom made a little mistake, and I was able to get by. It's good, hard racing in the Continental Tire Challenge."

Long held on for second in the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 started by Britt Casey Jr., a 17-year-old racing for the second time in the series. Szymczak took third in the No. 34 Alara Racing Mazda MX-5 started from the pole by Justin Piscitell.

"I slid a little coming out of Turn 9 on the last lap, and that enabled Andrew to get a run on me and get by in Turn 10," Long said. "Overall, it was a 1-2 for the team and a podium sweep for Mazda. It was also a great race for Britt, running here for the first time."

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