This past weekend was the final round of the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. A final race weekend is always bittersweet: you’re excited to see how everything shakes out for the year-end championship, but it also means another season is coming to a close.

I was coaching Ashton Harrison, and we got off to a good start with a lot of productive test sessions on the first day. She had a strong qualifying performance, and in the first race, that gave her an opportunity to take advantage of a good start and push forward. Through some really tight racing and some really good race craft—putting everything she’s learned this season to good use—Ashton was able to persevere through traffic and attrition to come back with a top-ten finish in not only the first race, but the second race as well.

The two top-ten results gave Ashton her best average finish of any race weekend this season. It was great to end the year on a high note like that.

The final race of the season means it’s time for the series banquet! It’s always fun to attend as we look back at memories of the season. It was cool to see Ashton’s teammate Pat Wilmot get some recognition. He won the Pass of the Year Award, which is voted on by competitors. The award was for his move at Indy, passing three cars in the braking zone for turn one during one of the rain races.

In just a few short weeks, Mazda returns to Mazda Raceway for the Mazda MX-5 Cup Global Challenge, which is shaping up to be quite a field of drivers. There’s a lot of excitement building, and I’m looking forward to that event!