Descending on the Virginia International Raceway (VIR) this past weekend, Copeland Motorsports driver Max Opalski was determined and ready. Taking on rounds eleven and twelve of the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BF Goodrich, the rookie driver showed his progression matching his career-best finish on Saturday before fighting in the top-five on Sunday.
“We started the weekend off well with a decent pace in practice and transferred that into our qualifying results,” expressed Opalski. “The goal for race one will be to maintain my position in the top-ten and look to take advantage of opportunities around me to move forward. There are some fast drivers behind me so I know there will be attacks from them, but I am up for the challenge.”
After qualifying ninth for race one, Opalski was .525 slower than the pole position winner and lined up for the first wheel-to-wheel action from the inside of row five. With the goal to maintain his position or move forward, Opalski battled in the top-ten throughout the 25-lap race eventually earning his career-best result in the MX-5 Cup program with an eighth-place result.
Opalski added, “Great race for me and for the team. It was one of my best finishes of the 2022 season, and it gives me some confidence going into tomorrow. A huge congrats to Copeland Motorsports and Tyler Gonzalez for a drive from last to first. Great results for the entire program and now we can focus on doing better tomorrow.”
With second fastest lap times from qualifying to set the grid for race two, Opalski lined up ninth for the second wheel-to-wheel action of the weekend. Falling back to tenth on the opening circuit, a caution period shortly thereafter slowed the pace and bunched the field back together. Taking advantage of some misfortune in front of him and showing his improvement throughout the season, Opalski moved into the top-six before a questionable drive-thru penalty for avoidable contact.
“I am not sure what the penalty was for that took us out of contention for a possible top-five result,” explained Opalski. “I was side-by-side with another competitor and passing for fourth with ten minutes remaining., The driver I was passing tried to carry too much momentum through the corner and drove off the track. As he drove off the track, I was able to continue but then was given the penalty. It is very confusing to me as I have been hit before with other drivers not receiving penalties, but I felt this was a very clean pass.”
After the penalty and the race concluded, Opalski would be dropped to 17th on the results sheets, a long way from where he was expected to finish only a few laps earlier.
For more information on Max Opalski, please search for him via his social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by searching Max Opalski Racing.
Photo Credit: Ignite Media