Jared Thomas in action Saturday at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

Thomas Secures Maiden MX5 Cup Pole Position

MILLVILLE, N.J. – Rookie and Mazda Road to 24 Scholarship recipient Jared Thomas earned his first Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires pole on Saturday.

His teammate, Michael Carter will line up next to him on the front row for Sunday’s race at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

Very few Global Mazda MX-5 Cup drivers have been to NJMP before, Thomas included, but you wouldn’t know that from watching his lap times through practice and qualifying, as the Scholarship racer proved to be a quick study.

Going into qualifying, Thomas and Carter knew they’d have a small window to set their best time during the 20-minute qualifying session.

Global Mazda MX-5 Cup drivers must start the race on the same tires they qualified with, and as NJMP is tough on tires, keeping the qualifying lap count to a minimum was important.

“It was difficult trying to get that perfect lap,” Thomas said. “The draft is still worth a half-second, so it’s important to get that, but you really only have four laps to get it. So, getting the fast lap in that tight timespan was kind of stressful. We managed to pull it off. I’m super excited for my first pole and I’ve never even been to this race track before.”

Thomas’ maiden pole position came courtesy of a 1:31.9766-second lap time. That’s more than two seconds faster than the previous lap record which was set in 2009.

MX-5 Cup hasn’t been to NJMP since 2010; an entirely new car and transmission has been introduced since then, so it was no surprise to see the record reset.

Thomas’s time was only .0961 second faster than teammate Carter, who he will share the front row with on Sunday morning.

“Having both cars on the front row is great,” Thomas said. “Hopefully we can do something with it tomorrow.”

Two recent race winners start from row two: Gresham Wagner (No. 5 Spark Performance) and Robert Noaker (No. 13 Robert Noaker Racing/Slipstream Performance).

Noaker had been the MX-5 Cup Championship leader through the first eight rounds, until the most recent race saw Carter eclipse him by a slim two points.

With only four races left in the 2020 season, the competition is intense and the $200,000 Mazda prize for the champion is up for grabs.