Special to 1812Blockhouse

After finishing third in Saturday’s Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by Michelin race, Gresham Wagner (No. 5 McCumbee McAleer Racing) got the job done on Sunday by winning Round Eight. Wagner led a McCumbee McAleer Racing podium sweep that included Jeremy Fletcher (No. 22 McCumbee McAleer Racing) in second and Nate Cicero (No. 83 McCumbee McAleer Racing) in third.


Like Saturday’s race, Wagner started from pole position for the 45-minute, all green flag race. Unlike Saturday’s race, he took a decisive 0.537-second victory over Fletcher, his MMR teammate. In doing so, he became the first repeat Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup race winner of the year.
 
Wagner and two-time Mazda MX-5 Cup Champion Jared Thomas (No. 96 JTR Motorsports Engineering) led a pack of four cars that slowly pulled away from the rest of the field, with Aaron Jeansonne (No. 24 JTR Motorsports Engineering) and Fletcher in third and fourth, respectively. The quartet played the long game, running in that order for 22 laps.
 
With two laps to go, Fletcher took a look at Jeansonne for third in the Hairpin. Jeansonne’s attempt to defend his spot unfortunately resulted in him hitting his teammate, Thomas, who slid into the gravel trap and became stuck.
 
The incident gave Wagner more than enough breathing room on the final lap to get his second win of the 2024 Mazda MX-5 Cup season.
 
“I had a different mindset coming into the last five minutes, of what I could do different from yesterday,” Wagner said. “But that was kind of a moot point because of the incident that happened. I was prepared to have to race them a bit different and pull out some tricks from yesterday and then it kind of just fell in my lap coming to the white flag. That’s not necessarily what you like to see at the end, but I led every lap, I was fast, and I thought I earned that win. I’m happy to get a double podium on the weekend and become the first repeat race winner. Sometimes you have good waves and sometimes you have bad, so it’s good to be riding a wave of good momentum heading into the second half of the season.”
 
Following the contact between the JTR teammates, Fletcher was able to sneak past Jeansonne and into second. With just a lap and a half left in the race, Fletcher was unable to catch Wagner and challenge him for the win.
 
“At the start of the race I had a similar thing happen but the opposite,” Fletcher said of the contact. “Somebody came in kind of late and hit me. I tried to go for a fake out on Aaron [Jeansonne] and he bought it and ended up going too deep and sadly they had contact, but luckily, I stayed clear. I tried to run down Gresham but couldn’t catch him. I can’t thank the McCumbee McAleer guys enough; I mean, we’re 1,2,3! I also want to thank my grandparents the Holster Store, Home Restoration Exchange, Home Decor and More and everyone that’s been able to put me in this position.”

Jeansonne recovered from the incident at the Hairpin and crossed the line in third but was deemed responsible and issued a drive-through penalty. When the drive-through equivalent time was added to the results it dropped Jeansonne to 14th and promoted Cicero to the final podium spot.
 
“It was a pretty lonely race for a while,” Cicero said. “We had a little gap to the front group, and I had [Nathan] Nicholson behind me but either Connor [Zilisch] spun him or he spun by himself. Connor and I got to working together for a while. We saw Jared [Thomas] get hit by Aaron [Jeansonne] I think, so I knew there was going be a penalty or something and I had to get in front of Connor. There was a little bit of contact, some rough racing, and then he and Weston [Workman] got together in the last corner, so I over-undered them and was able to get third. I’ll take it on a rough weekend.”
 
Workman (No. 13 BSI Racing) came out the winner of that final corner contact, finishing fourth, the highest of the rookies. Zilisch (No. 72 BSI Racing), who was Saturday’s Mazda MX-5 Cup race winner, finished fifth.
 
It was a banner weekend for Sally Mott (No. 15 Spark Performance) who captured two 13th-place finishes on the weekend. This earned her a total of $4,000 as the highest finishing female driver in both races. Mott is the 2023 recipient of the Mazda Women in Motorsports Initiative Scholarship, which won her $75,000 toward this MX-5 Cup season.
 
“I feel like I really had a lot more pace than every other week,” Mott said. “I think I’m really getting comfortable with this car and starting to feel a lot better. It’s like we’re chipping off smaller and smaller amounts now and it’s really about working on racecraft.”
 
Next up for Rounds Nine and 10 of the Mazda MX-5 Cup, the series heads back to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the first time since 2016. The doubleheader takes place July 12 – 13.

Source, Photo: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

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