Rounds 3 and 4 of the Mazda Teen Mazda Challenge were at Buttonwillow Raceway Park last weekend. Six teen drivers took part in the NASA Southern California competition. Tyler Vance,Charlie Hayes, Joey Bickers, Nova Brown, Christopher Murdter and Joey Jordan were the entered participants in this race within a race in the Spec Miata field.
Joey Bickers threw down the gauntlet in Qualifying for round 3, He put together a lap that was a full second and a half under the lap record! The Iron Canyon tuned car was flying. 2nd was Tyler Vance, 3rd Charlie Hayes, 4th Joey Jordan and 5th Christopher Murdter. Unfortunately Nova Brown had a mechanical issue that ended his weekend. The teen challenge drivers were the top 5 in the class and were getting ready to race under 100 degree and bright and Sunny skies near Bakersfield California.
At the Start the inside lane got the jump with Bickers and Hayes followed closely by Vance and Jordan. After the first lap the top 4 had already created a few second gap to the rest of the field.
By lap 3 Tyler Vance had squeezed by Bickers and Jordan had got by Hayes. They were 4 cars nose to tail for the next few laps. Jordan went inside of Bickers in the last corner leading on to the front straight, but Bickers would not let him take the position, so Hayes got a run and went by both of them. This allowed Tyler Vance to eeeek out an advantage. Bickers and Hayes battled hard for the remaining laps, as Jordan fought a faulty ignition switch that slowed his progress(he had to cycle the kill switch to get it to run) Hayes made a few attempts to pass but Bickers drove defensively to keep Hayes Behind. Jordan ended up 4th with Christopher Murdter taking 5th after an early off course excursion
Tyler Vance used all the in-fighting to drive a mistake free race and pull away to a 5 second lead. He was fighting a slight misfire and the battles behind him allowed him to short shift and keep a 5 second lead to the finish. Great job Tyler, welcome back!
Sunday Round 4
The Socal NASA Format calls for a qualifying race on Sunday. The order of finish of Saturday's race would determine starting positions. The top 4 of the Spec Miata field were all Teen Challenge competitors, Chrid Murdter would start 6th overall and 5th in Teen Challenge.
The qualifying race saw some close battles. On the first lap Charlie Hayes had a problem with his car, his cool suit malfunctioned and pumped his cold water all on the floor of his car, which made the Esses exciting to say the least! Charlie may be entering the next Drift race at Buttonwillow.....Charlie pulled into the pits after lap 2 and would start at the back of the field for Round 4. Bickers took the early lead followed closely by Vance and Jordan. Eventually Vance got by to take the point and with 2 to go Jordan got by Bickers to take 2nd. Chris Murdter would lead the rest of the Spec Miata field and was running 4th a ways back from the lead pack, but ahead of all the other spec miata competitors. The Main race would see Vance starting on the Pole with Jordan on the outside of the front row followed by Bickers in 3rd and Murdter in 4th, Hayes would start last in the field after his qualifying mishap..
Sunday's race was even warmer than Saturday, all the crews were very concerned about high temperatures affecting the outcome of the race.
At the Start Vance took the lead followed by Jordan, Bickers and.......wait...... hold it......full course yellow, some internal problem in NASA, caused a restart. They went another lap under yellow and then reformed up for the restart....This time it was Vance, Bickers, Jordan in 3rd and.....Hayes all the way from the back to 4th on Jordan's bumper!
As the made their way through the fast riverside corner and approaching the wild Phil Hill section, Vance slowed Bickers and Jordan split him as they approached Phil Hill and were 3 wide! Yikes....they made it through but Vance was back to 4th. Bickers came out of that scrambled with an 8 car length lead. Followed by Jordan 3 car lengths to Hayes. Vance was a few seconds behind with Murdter another couple seconds back.
Lap 2 and 3 were the same as Jordan narrowed the gap to Bickers by a couple of car lengths. Hayes was now 1 second back in 3rd followed by Vance who was 3 seconds back of the leader. Lap 4 saw Jordan on Bickers Bumper applying the pressure. Hayes was now 2 seconds back fighting high water temps. The air temp was 101 with a track temp of 124! On lap 6 Jordan went for the inside pass in turn 1 a high speed 4th gear left hand sweeper with Bickers holding his line on the outside. The pair went Side by side all the way through 1 and into the offramp which is a tight right hand 2nd gear corner, they were door handle to door handle through the tight right hander with Jordan on the outside and Bickers on the inside. Jordan would be able to carry more speed at the exit and would gain about 2/3rds of a car length as they braked and downshifter for cotton corners, Bickers would concede the lead to Jordan. Bickers would hound Jordan the rest of the way with Jordan leading at the Start/Finish stripe by a couple car lengths. Hayes was in third now 4 seconds back with a fast closing Vance. Vance would make up ground and then have his car start missing and fall back. On the last lap Bickers closed to Jordan's Bumper entering turn 1 and was all over Jordan all the way to Phil Hill. He tried to make a late braking maneuver got it wrong and fell back at the finish which allowed Jordan to get his first Teen Mazda Challenge win by 2 seconds. Bickers 2nd Hayes 3rd 4 seconds back and Vance 8 seconds back in 4th. Murdter would get 5th (6th) overall.
After 4 Teen Mazda Challenge Races we have 4 different winners! Should make it an exciting championship!