STRICKLER WINS HOMESTEAD FINALE AND SECURES FIRST SRFPS DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Oct. 18) â€“ John Strickler, of Kansas City, Kan., led every lap in a determined flag to flag drive to beat Jim Goughary, of Jupiter, Fla.,...
STRICKLER WINS HOMESTEAD FINALE AND SECURES FIRST SRFPS DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Oct. 18) – John Strickler, of Kansas City, Kan., led every lap in a determined flag to flag drive to beat Jim Goughary, of Jupiter, Fla., by 0.317-sec. at the 2.21-mile, 14-turn Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex. With the win, Strickler also earned the SRFPS Drivers' Championship after a season-long battle with Warren Stilwell.
Strickler, in the No. 22 Mattress City Racing/Days Inn of Homestead SRF, made the most of his pole position start to take the lead in the 22-lap, 48.62-mile race into the first corner. Driving a tight line all day, Strickler made it virtually impossible for anyone to pass him.
"That was so much fun. I was nervous going into the race because of the Drivers' Championship standings," said Strickler, "but when Warren (Stilwell) went out, then I knew that I could just relax and drive. I started to pull away a couple of times, but I made two slight mistakes that allowed Jim (Goughary) to catch right back up."
Goughary, in the No. 2 Goughary Racing SRF, made several attempts to pass Strickler throughout the race, but was never able to make a move stick, earning a runner-up finish in his first SRFPS race of the season.
"I was able to get by John (Strickler) very briefly on the backside, but he out-broke me into the next turn, and I never had another chance," said Goughary. "The set-up great today, and I drove the wheels off the car. I tried to force a mistake, but John drove a great race."
Finishing third was Keith Scharf, of Kirkwood, Mo., in the No. 0 Tech Clears & Primers/Valvoline/Hunt SRF. On lap 15, Scharf found himself in behind Johnny Meriggi and John Black after the second restart, but Scharf dove into turn one, making a clean pass of both cars at the same time to hold onto the final podium position. Scharf also posted the fastest race lap of 1:41.766 (78.172 mph).
"I felt down on power all day long, but I really worked hard to stay in the lead pack," said Scharf. "I had a good jump on the second restart, and had a good run on Meriggi and Black down the front straight. Then I ducked inside and made a clean pass."
Stilwell, who was locked into the Drivers' Championship battle with Strickler, was running in third position before problems emerged during the first of two cautions, resulting in no injuries. A mis-firing engine prompted Stilwell to drop back from third to ninth just prior to the yellow flag, but one lap after the restart, he hit the wall in turn 14, ending his bid for the title.
"With the mis-firing engine, I had no choice but to drop back," said Stilwell, "but the problem corrected itself by the time the field went green. I was pushing hard to get back into contention when I made a mistake and hit the wall. I just over-drove the car."
In the final Drivers' Championship points standings, Stickler finished first, followed by Stilwell (No. 28 Stilwell Racing SRF), Neil Tilbor (No. 8 Tyco RC SRF), Johnny Santo Spirito (No. 19 Spirito Racing SRF) and Leo Capaldi (No. 51 Autostuff SRF).