published: Saturday, March 16, 2013
Sebring Team scores big in MX-5 Support Race
By BARRY FOSTER
Special to the News-Sun
SEBRING - It was a good showing for Sebring in the first two rounds of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup at Sebring International Raceway.
Local driver John Dean II and his Sebring-based Sick Sideways Racing team scored a trio of podium finishes
Dean, driving the No. 16 Projections Research/PPG MX-5, was able to come home second in the series opener after battling for the point with former teammate Christian Szymczak
By the end of the 15-lap race, Szymczak was able to put a full two seconds between his No. 34 ALARA Racing MX-5 and the hard-charging Dean.
The speedy Sebring native did set the race lap record with a time of 2:30.727.
That translates into an average 89.327 mph around the 3.74 mile circuit. .
Dean's Sick Sideways current teammate Nathanial Sparks followed him to the stripe to take third place at the finish.
Sparks, in the No. 8 OOTSK Performance /Bimmerworld MX-5, was in front of Dean for the first half of the race before falling back to third.
Sparks then slotted-in behind his teammate in an attempt to run down Szymczak, who was enjoying the clear track.
"We had a good race. It feels so good to be up here as a team with Nathanial Sparks and Christian," Dean said of sharing the podium with the two drivers that were his teammates in 2012. "It's a little bittersweet with Christian - it came one year too late
Dean followed his Thursday performance with a second podium appearance Friday afternoon, scoring a third place finish in round two of the series.
Elliott Skeer, of Vista, Calif., made a dramatic move in the last turn of that second race to break Szymczak's first-race domination.
Dean scored a third-place finish.
He was in contention for most of the race, even having led lap two.
Szymczak, however, repassed Dean to take second.
"Christian was really defensive and I was looking to get by wherever I could," Dean said. "The gap never really opened up for me.
In addition to being based out of Sebring, Dean and his Sick Sideways team will carry the colors of the Sebring Chamber of Comnerce through the balance pf the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup calendar.
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