Wins race with car he won in charity giveaway 

With over 220 passes, a 0.0664-second margin of victory, and the top five finishers all crossing the line within a half second of the race winner, the 31-car Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires field delivered another thrilling race at the Circuit of the Americas on Saturday.

Racing with a car that he won in a www.lemonsoflove.org raffle, Drake Kemper claimed the victory on Saturday after leading all but one lap in the 45-minute race. A drag race from the final corner saw Kemper take the win ahead of Bryan Ortiz (4 Copeland Motorsports), Robert Stout (28 McCumbee MacAleer Racing) and Mazda Road to 24 Scholarship winner Michael Carter (No. 08 Copeland Motorsports). Luke Oxner completed the top five in the No. 77 White Racing entry.

The opening stanza saw a manic fight for the lead  as the field funneled through the Esses. Contact between polesitter Selin Rollan (No. 87 Sick Sideways) and Robert Noaker (No. 13 Sick Sideway) spun Noaker sideways in the middle of the track and in the path of Alex Bachoura (No. 33 Slipstream Performance). The race’s only full-course caution was issued to retrieve Noaker and Bachoura’s heavily damaged cars. Rollan was issued a drive through penalty for the incident.

Kemper took charge on the restart in the No. 99 Sick Sideways Racing MX-5, controlling the pace and growing his advantage to nearly four seconds. But the pack was relentless, reeling him in until the final laps when the top five were nose-to-tail.

“I was actually feeling pretty good around halfway when I had a nice, healthy margin,” Kemper said. “But then I missed one shift and the heart rate starting rising. They came at me really fast.”

The second race from COTA starts at 9:05 a.m. ET on Sunday.