Posted (09/19/2008) -
TOOELE, Utah - Robert Huffmaster, of Clarkston, Mich., was quickest in afternoon practice for Round Six of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, part of the SunRichGourmet.com 1000 Presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels at Miller Motorsports Park. Huffmaster's afternoon time was also the fastest practice time of the day. Brad Rampelberg, of San Jose, Calif., and Ryan Schimsk, of Austin, Texas, were second and third fastest, respectively.
Though menacing clouds hung over the 24-turn, 4.486-mile Miller Motorsports Park throughout the 25-minute practice session, precipitation was not an issue and nearly every driver was able to improve on their morning practice time, Huffmaster included. In his first-ever trip to Miller Motorsports Park, Huffmaster went from third in the morning session to the top of the time sheets in the afternoon.
"This is my first time at Miller Motorsports Park," Huffmaster said. "I love it. I like the fact that it doesn"t have elevation. Usually I don't like that, but I do like the fact that it's flat and smooth and has a good rhythm to it."
Driving the No. 27 Team MER/Huffmaster Co. MX-5, Huffmaster clocked a 3:20.389 (80.591 mph) to lead the session and top the overall practice times. Huffmaster was thankful for time spent in a racing simulator and at the track's test day, which helped him get up to speed so quickly on North America's longest road course.
"I was playing on a game simulator called "R Factor," and I did about 50 laps on that, so at least I knew where left and right were. We also had a test day and two hours was a good time to learn the track."
Huffmaster and the rest of the MX-5 Cup paddock don't have a moment to spare before qualifying for Round Six begins at 5 p.m. (MDT) today.
"It's tough [having a busy day]. I can't be too excited about leading practice, because qualifying is coming right up and everything is going to change in qualifying."
Fastest in the morning session, Rampelberg couldn't match Huffmaster's pace in the afternoon and ended the session in second. Rampelberg was able to improve on his morning time, setting a 3:20.767 (80.439 mph) in the No. 14 Hooverspeed/Mazda/Patron Tequila MX-5.
Schimsk also improved on his morning time, breaking the 3:21 mark by entering a 3:20.805 (80.424 mph) in his No. 81 Team MER/Airco Mechanical MX-5.
Championship point leader Eric Foss, of Fort Worth, Texas, was fourth. Foss was able to chisel away slightly on his morning time and turn a 3:21.001 (80.345 mph) in the No. 28 Team MER/Autobarn Mazda MX-5.
Ara Malkhassian, of Sonoma, Calif., completed the top five in the No. 11 Alara Racing MX-5 with a lap of 3:21.578 (80.115 mph).
Todd Buras picked up two spots from the morning session to end the afternoon in sixth. Brad McAllister, Mike Jenkins, Harrison Williams and Alison Malkhassian completed the top 10 in the afternoon session.
Of the those 10, only Jenkins set a faster time in the morning, which placed him ahead of McAllister on the combined practice times for the day.