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Local Mazda salesman wins race at Elkhart Lake's Road America

September 11, 2015
On Aug. 28, Danny Bender scored his first professional win as a racecar driver. Two days later, he was back at his job as a salesman at Autobarn Mazda of Evanston.
Bender started deep in the field, in 12th place, at the famed 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America track in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The 12-lap race averaged only 63.5 mph because the first five laps were run behind the pace car, as poor visibility from low-hanging fog kept race control from turning the cars loose.
With the drivers facing a wet track surface, the Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup winner credited his choice of dry-run tires (slicks) over wet tires.
"The first part of the race was interesting," Bender said. "Some of the drivers were on drys and others were on wet tires. We went out on drys, which I thought would give us the advantage, and it did on the winning pass. 
"Some of the front runners had the advantage in the brake zones, but I was able to get through the turns a lot better. I went to the outside of the Carousel, where there was a lot of grip, and was able to get by one. I also made an outside pass in Turn 13 stick to take the lead. I think the tire choice was the thing that allowed us to do that.
"This is a one-off weekend for me, so being able to win against guys (who) have been racing here all year is awesome."
Bender has deep knowledge of both the Mazda MX-5 he drove and the racetrack from his work at the dealership.
By improving 11 positions, Bender also won the Battery Tender Hard Charger award.
As a club racer last year, Bender won the 2014 SCCA Runoffs T4 Championship.