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< Back to News Home Huffmaster Rules MX-5 Cup Practice in New Jersey

Posted (09/26/2008) - MILLVILLE, N.J. - In the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup's first visit to Thunderbolt Raceway, Robert Huffmaster, of Clarkston, Mich., topped Friday's practice times. Eric Foss, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Ryan Schimsk, of Austin, Texas, were second and third fastest, respectively, in preparation for Sunday's Round Seven race.

After two sessions on a wet track, the MX-5 Cup field finally got a crack at a drying Thunderbolt Raceway in the third, and final, 25-minute practice session of the day. Huffmaster capitalized on the opportunity, posting a fast lap of 1:42.082 (79.348 mph) on his final tour around the brand-new 14-turn, 2.25-mile course.

"The first session was damp," Huffmaster said. "This [last] session started out like the first session, but then it got drier and drier as we went around. The sun popped out for a bit and the times went down.

"I like [the new Thunderbolt Raceway]. I was telling everyone during the test day that I like this track a lot. It's tight, it's narrow it's challenging and those are a lot of the things I like."

Currently fifth in the MX-5 Cup Championship, Huffmaster's first win in the No. 27 Team MER/Huffmaster Co. MX-5 came during a rainy race at Mosport International Raceway and he wouldn't mind seeing the skies open up again for the race.

"I think in general, for Team MER, rain would be a good thing. I think we've shown we can run up front in the rain. That's a testament to our engineers and the way we set up in the rain. We were out there making changes in pit lane even in the rain session."

Though there is a strong chance for rain during MX-5 Cup qualifying on Saturday, the odds are slimmer for rain during Sunday's race.

Point leader Foss was second fastest on the practice sheets at Thunderbolt Raceway. Driving the No. 28 Team MER/Autobarn Mazda MX-5, Foss' fast lap of 1:42.264 (79.206 mph) also came on his final lap of the third session.

Road America race winner Schimsk was third fastest in the No. 81 Team MER/Airco Mechanical MX-5. Schimsk quickest lap of the final session was a 1:43.555 (78.219 mph).

Brad Rampelberg, winner of last weekend's race at Miller Motorsports Park, was fourth fastest on the day. Rampelberg turned a 1:43.617 (78.172 mph) in the No. 14 Hooverspeed/Mazda/Patron Tequila MX-5.

Todd Buras, of Melbourne, Fla., completed the top five in the No. 56 Hooverspeed/ MX-5 with a 1:43.725 (78.091 mph).

Ara Malkhassian, brothers Mark and Mike Jenkins, Randy Hale and Robert Michaelian completed the top 10.
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