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Mustang Challenge

Noaker Wins First-Ever Mustang Challenge Race at Mid-Ohio

Robert Noaker Racing victorious the single-make series’ first race outing, grid set for Race 2…

Photo: Ford

Robert Noaker has claimed victory in the inaugural Mustang Challenge race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after misfortune for pole-sitter Tyler Maxson.

Maxson led the 27-car field to green in the 45-minute sprint race, but quickly came under pressure in the opening stages from Noaker’s No. 13 Robert Noaker Racing Ford Mustang Dark Horse R.

Noaker captured the race lead during the race’s safety car restart after Maxson went off track at Turn 6 trying to defend his position.

Once in the lead, Noaker began opening up a gap, taking the checkered flag a comfortable 6.268 seconds in front of second-place finisher Sam Paley in the No. 26 Southern Paley Motorsports machine.

Paley held onto second after being locked in a near race-long battle with the McCumbee McAleer Racing cars of Jeremy Fletcher and Nate Cicero and the No. 31 RNR entry of Reid Sweeney.

Fletcher claimed the final step of the Dark Horse class podium, with stablemate, Cicero coming home in fourth.

Sweeney rounded out the top-five, just over one tenth off the back of Cicero, while Maxson fought back to take the checkered flag sixth overall after initially rejoining the Dark Horse class in 11th.

He was officially classified seventh, however after a post-race penalty was applied for late race contact with Max Opalski.

Grid positions for Race2 are determined by the fastest racing laps set in Race 1, meaning Maxson will pace the field on Sunday with the 1:30.506 second lap he recorded while charging his way back up the order.

Tom Tait took the Dark Horse Legends class win aboard his No. 8 MDK Motorsports Mustang after trouble for front runners Zachry Lee and Alex Bachoura.

Lee retired from the class lead after pulling behind the wall with a mechanical issue in the final minutes, while Bachoura’s No. 33 Spark Performance Mustang had to be recovered after contact with a spinning Chloe Chambers in the beginning of the race.

Late-weekend entry Mike Stillwagon finished runner-up in DHL despite his first laps in No. 9 Automatic Racing Dark Horse R coming in this morning’s qualifying session. RNR’s Mitch Marvosh finished third in class.

Running was impacted by a single full-course caution when a pair of Dark Horse Rs became stranded on track after separate incidents in the opening stages.

Bachoura’s stricken Spark Performance entry was one of the vehicles contributed to the caution after stopping on track following the contact that ended both his and Chambers’ races.

Moments later, Christian Bach’s No. 52 KohR Motorsports was hit by Wesley Slimp as the No. 47 Precision Performance Motorsports driver attempted to correct a slide mid-corner, resulting in terminal damage and a penalty for Slimp. Bach was able to continue racing.

PPM’s Brandon Gdovic was stranded in the Turn 5 gravel trap after contact with Cicero’s No. 82 Mustang, but was able to rejoin the field two laps down and dive to pit lane under his own power once his car was recovered by track workers.

However, Gdovic was forced to return to pit lane to serve a stop-and-hold penalty for running the red light at pit exit.

Cicero collected a 10-second time penalty after the incident was investigated post-race.

Race 2 is slated for Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. EDT with live coverage on Peacock and


Jonathan Grace is the host of Sportscar365's Double Stint Podcast and a contributor to the web site's IMSA-sanctioned race coverage.

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