The penultimate event of the 2022 MX-5 Cup series was held at VIRginia International Raceway, and yielded a pair of podium finishes (2nd and 3rd) for Gresham Wagner and the Spark Performance team.
Wagner and Spark Performance led the two practice sessions, happy with the feeling of the car and pace heading into qualifying. In a hectic session that involved plenty of traffic and a red flag, Wagner ended up with the 3rd quickest time in the 30-minute qualifying.
The first race of the weekend involved plenty of shuffling and a big lead draft, with most of the top 10 running nose-to-tail for the majority of the race. A late break saw Wagner lead in the final minutes, working together with Connor Zilisch to make a gap to the rest of the field. With strong pace late in the race, Tyler Gonzalez caught Wagner and Zilisch with a few minutes to go and shuffled Wagner to 3rd. Wagner would remain in the 3rd spot for the finish, after a quick battle for the win on the final lap.
Heading into Race 2, Wagner again started from the 3rd spot. Running at the front for the first half of the race, contact while leading almost sent Wagner spinning around. After an impressive save in Turn 1, Wagner regrouped and remained in the lead draft. Wagner and Zilisch worked together similar to Race 1, and formed a lead breakaway along with the third car of Sam Paley. The three drivers would remain out front for the duration of the race, pulling a 10-second gap to 4th place and the second pack. On the final lap, Wagner moved past Paley into 2nd, and then made a move for the win at the end of the lap. Door-to-door with Zilisch for first place, Wagner would have to settle for 2nd place at the line.
However, with the two podium finishes, Wagner made significant gains in the championship, climbing to 2nd in the points heading to the season finale. The Spark Performance #5 car was in the top 3 in every session of the event, showing strong and consistent pace, and gathering momentum heading to Road Atlanta. Wagner will look to defend his championship in the showdown for the title at the final event of the MX-5 Cup season, part of the IMSA Petit Le Mans weekend.