RACE: National Runoffs: Don Knowles sumamry

Knowles Drives iRacing.com Solstice to National Title Pre-Race Drama Punctuates Flag-to-Flag Win at SCCA Runoffs TOPEKA, KS (Oct. 16, 2007) -- Once the green flag dropped, Don Knowles made it look simple as he drove his iRacing.com Pontiac ...

Knowles Drives iRacing.com Solstice to National Title
Pre-Race Drama Punctuates Flag-to-Flag Win at SCCA Runoffs

TOPEKA, KS (Oct. 16, 2007) -- Once the green flag dropped, Don Knowles made it look simple as he drove his iRacing.com Pontiac Solstice GXP Z0K Club Sport to a convincing victory in the T2-class race at the Sports Car Club of America's National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. But the two hours leading up to the start had more than enough nail-biting suspense for the veteran racer and his Phoenix Performance crew.

In morning warm-ups, Knowles suffered turbo-related mechanical issues. As many as a dozen technicians sprang into action, scrambling to scavenge the parts off a road-going Solstice GXP and install them on Knowles' racecar. The mechanics won their race against time, but only just. Knowles didn't arrive at the grid until five minutes before the field was flagged onto the race track.

"Well, it gave me something to focus on for those two hours before the race," Knowles said laconically. "But next year I think I'll just spend the time before the race warming up with the iRacing.com simulation."

"I figured the car was either going to fail on the pace lap or it would be fine," Knowles said later. "The Phoenix Performance and GM Performance Division guys did a great job getting the car back together -- which put a lot of pressure on the guy behind the wheel to get the job done."

Starting from the pole position, Knowles out-dragged fellow front-row starter and Solstice driver Ed Zabinski to the first turn and by the end of the lap had opened up a substantial lead. "If anyone thinks this was an easy race, though, they are wrong. The Runoffs is a unique and an idiosyncratic event, and there is so much that can go awry. Look at what happened to us this morning."

Knowles' iRacing.com teammate, Joe Aquilante, qualified fourth and jumped into third at the start. But for Aquilante, owner of the Phoenix Performance team that prepped both iRacing.com entries, it was a short race. An incident with another driver ended his day after just seven laps.

"Don, Joe and everyone at Phoenix Performance did a tremendous job at the Runoffs," said Scott McKee, vice president of marketing for iRacing.com. "Things didn't exactly go as planned, but that happens in racing. In some ways, it makes the victory even sweeter. We're so happy to be able to share this win with the team, and we're grateful to them for helping us showcase iRacing.com to more than 600 of the SCCA's top drivers and 2,000 of their crew. They represent a lot of potential clients for our motorsport simulation software. Don spent a day in our Driver Development Lab the week before the Runoffs, and we hope that played a role in his success this weekend."

For Knowles the T2-class win was his fourth SCCA national title. He won the Showroom Stock B title in 1978 and '79 in a Saab and, in 2006, drove the iRacing.com Phoenix Performance Pontiac Solstice Z0K Club Sport to a third SSB championship.

The 2007 SCCA National Championship Runoffs will be televised on Speed TV starting with the S2000 class race at noon on Wednesday, November 7. The T2-class race will air at noon on Wednesday, January 9. The full schedule is available at www.scca.org.

-credit: iRacing.com

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Joe Aquilante , Don Knowles , Ed Zabinski , Scott McKee