Kent Claims First MX-5 Cup Pole of 2009 Season at Road Atlanta

BRASELTON, Ga. (May 1, 2009) – In his series debut, Lyonel Kent, of Powell, Tenn., captured the pole for Round One of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, part of the Classic Motorsports Magazine Walter Mitty Challenge at Road Atlanta. Ara Malkhassian, of Sonoma, Calif., will complete the front row for Saturday’s race.

Piloting the No. 13 ALARA Racing/eData Solutions MX-5, Kent worked the draft with teammates Malkhassian and Justin Piscitell to clock the fastest lap of the 30-minute qualifying session, a 1:41.237 (90.322 mph). Giving it everything he could, Kent nearly lost it exiting Turn 12, but righted the car as it crossed start/finish.

“I knew it was my last-ditch effort,” Kent said. “I shifted at the last minute and straight-lined it, because I wanted to keep the speed up. I feel sorry for my teammates though – I gave them a little dusting.”

Shortly after Kent set his provisional pole time, the No. 68 Hale Motorsports/ MX-5 of Michael Vitarelli made contact with the wall at Turn Four, necessitating a red flag. The driver was uninjured in the incident, and after a brief cleanup, the session resumed with five minute remaining. Try as they might, no competitor could top Kent’s lap around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course, and the ALARA driver was ecstatic to learn he’d be starting his very first MX-5 Cup race from pole.

“This is amazing,” Kent beamed. “It’s the best day of my life. I’ve got to thank ALARA Racing, eData Solutions, Ken Marillo and my teammates Ara and Justin. We worked so well together out there. I don’t know how we could have expected anything else, because this is just the perfect day. I’ve been looking forward to this for so long. It’s a dream to be here and words can’t explain what I’m going through right now. Hopefully tomorrow will take the place of today as the best day of my life.”

After leading the majority of the session with a 1:41.604 (89.996 mph), Malkhassian was bumped by his teammate’s hot lap. It will be an all-ALARA front row for Saturday’s race, with Malkhasian starting second in the No. 11 ALARA Racing MX-5.

Mark Jenkins, of Fairview, Texas, qualified a career-high third. Driving the No. 25 Team MER/JBR/Traxxas/BFG/Simpson MX-5, Jenkins had a rough ride out of Turn 12 early in the session, but got back in a rhythm shortly thereafter, clocking a 1:41.698 (89.913 mph).

MAZDASPEED MX-5 Cup Shootout winner Piscitell, of Patterson, N.Y., will start fourth on the grid. Piscitell’s fastest lap in the No. 89 ALARA Racing/DAMG Racing MX-5 was a 1:41.904 (89.731 mph).

Marc Miller, of Holland, Mich., completes the top five in the No. 28 Team MER/MOCA/RaceForAutism MX-5. Miller, who was second-fastest in Thursday practice clocked a 1:42.022 (89.627 mph) in qualifying.

Dean Copeland, Chris Rhoades, Brett Smrz, Zach Ply and Mike Jenkins completed the top 10.

Round One of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday. Live timing and notes are available at

BRASELTON, Ga. – Starting lineup for Saturday’s SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Round One race, part of the 2009 Classic Motorsports Walter Mitty Challenge at Road Atlanta, with position, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.
1, (13), Lyonel Kent, Powell, Tenn., MX-5, 1:41.237, 90.322.
2, (11), Ara Malkhassian, Sonoma, Calif., MX-5, 1:41.604, 89.996.
3, (25), Mark Jenkins, Fairview, Texas, MX-5, 1:41.698, 89.913.
4, (89), Justin Piscitell, Patterson, N.Y., MX-5, 1:41.904, 89.731.
5, (28), Marc Miller, Holland, Mich., MX-5, 1:42.022, 89.627.
6, (7), Dean Copeland, Bowie, Md., MX-5, 1:42.158, 89.508.
7, (33), Chris Rhoades, Dallas, Texas, MX-5, 1:42.314, 89.372.
8, (6), Brett Smrz, Couer D’Alene, Idaho, MX-5, 1:42.417, 89.282.
9, (27), Zach Ply, Joliet, Ill., MX-5, 1:42.422, 89.277.
10, (47), Mike Jenkins, Fairview, Texas, MX-5, 1:42.486, 89.222.
11, (31), Jeff Mosing, Austin, Texas, MX-5, 1:42.498, 89.211.
12, (14), Rick Maki, Alpharetta, Ga., MX-5, 1:42.571, 89.148.
13, (00), Harrison Williams, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:42.713, 89.024.
14, (92), Stan Wilson, Mt. Juliet, Tenn., MX-5, 1:43.028, 88.752.
15, (19), Robert Michaelian, Seal Beach, Calif., MX-5, 1:43.229, 88.579.
16, (26), Tim Probert, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:43.252, 88.560.
17, (75), Alfred Caiola, New York, N.Y., MX-5, 1:43.789, 88.101.
18, (18), Marc Hoover, Cameron, Calif., MX-5, 1:43.933, 87.979.
19, (35), Brian Audet, Alexandria, Va., MX-5, 1:43.944, 87.970.
20, (21), Randy Hale_III, Haddam, Conn., MX-5, 1:44.330, 87.645.
21, (68), Michael Vitarelli, Brooklyn, N.Y., MX-5, 1:46.278, 86.038.
22, (29), Nick Mancuso, Mettawa, Ill., MX-5, 1:42.120, 89.541.
Note: #29 qualifying times disallowed – non-compliant front suspension

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