RACE: Second set of nine earn Runoffs championships

TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 11, 2008) -- Nine more National Champions were crowned at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs®, taking place at Heartland Park Topeka. Four drivers were lucky enough to earn their first SCCA National Championship, ...

TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 11, 2008) -- Nine more National Champions were crowned at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs®, taking place at Heartland Park Topeka. Four drivers were lucky enough to earn their first SCCA National Championship, including Joe McClughan in Showroom Stock C, Edward Zabinski in Touring 1, Chris Keller in Formula Ford and Peter Zekert in GT-Lite. SCCA Chicago Region Triple Crown® Awards were also presented to McClughan and J.R. Osborne (D Sports Racing).

Race 10: Peterson Wins Seventh GT-3 SCCA Title at Runoffs

Pete Peterson, of Lumberton, N.C., captured his seventh SCCA National Championship Saturday, winning the Sunoco GT-3 race at Heartland Park Topeka, part of the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs®. Wolfgang Maike, of Santa Barbara, Calif., and Steve Spiers, of Marietta, Ga., completed the top three.

Starting fifth in the No. 98 Toyota/Goodyear/Valvoline/Penske Toyota Celica, Peterson gradually moved through the field to take the lead from Spiers on lap 13 and never looked back, taking his second-straight GT-3 National Championship by 3.457 seconds, averaging 88.388 mph.

"It was a good day," Peterson said. "My big plan was the pick off a couple at the start, but that didn't happen so I just sort of fell into line. [Mike] Cyphert spun in front of me, and then [John] Black fell out and we settled down with the three of us into a pretty darn good race. It was pretty amazing how everyone was right there. I can't think of two people I'd rather share the podium with."

At the start, polesitter John Black got a good jump on the field, but his race would be short-lived, as a mechanical problem slowed him on lap two, handing the lead to second-starting Spiers. Spiers led the next 10 laps in his No. 91 St. Clair Data Systems/RRE Nissan 200-SX, but Maike and Peterson were in tow.

Once Peterson was past, Spiers desperately attempted to hold off Maike's No. 13 Toyota/Goodyear/Red Line Oil Toyota Paseo for second. Spiers went too deep in his braking at Turn 10 on lap 16 and slid off course. Spiers was able to re-enter and hold on to third.

"We turned a wheel the first time with this car on Labor Day," Peterson, who also earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award for advancing four positions in the race, said. "We picked it up, came here on the Wednesday test day, went out and did three laps and said we've got to go back to work on it. Went out the next day and broke a camshaft, so we were done until last week. We've had problems with the gear box, problems with the brakes, but we got both of those problems cured for the race."

Peterson also dedicated his win to former SCCA National Champion Paul Newman, who passed away last month.

Milton Grant, of Germantown, Tenn., finished fourth after a last-lap spin by Rob Warkocki, of Frankfort, Ill., dropped him to fifth.

Race 11: Osborne Takes Second-Consecutive DSR Title

Crossing the finish line more than 10 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, J.R. Osborne, of Castle Rock, Colo., earned his second-consecutive D Sports Racing Championship as well as the SCCA Chicago Region Triple Crown® at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs. Mark Jaremko, of Spokane, Wash., and Tom Bootz, of Evansville, Ind., completed the podium at Heartland Park Topeka.

The field's first attempt at a start was waved off by the starter, but when the green flag waved the next time around, polesitter Jaremko, second-starting Bootz and third-starting Osborne went side-by-side through Turn Alpha and Turn One. When the order was sorted, it was defending Champion Osborne in the lead, with Jarmeko shuffled back to third behind Bootz.

Once in front, there was no catching Osborne, who ran a flawless race, increasing the gap to second place with nearly every lap. While doing so, Osborne set a new Runoffs race lap record, turning a 1:23.461 in the No. 1 Rilltech/Goodyear/Red Line Stohr WF-1/Suzuki. When the checkered flag flew after 18 laps, Osborne had 10.468 seconds on second place Jaremko, the DSR National Championship and the SCCA Chicago Region Triple Crown.

"We've just had an awful weekend," Osborne continued. "We've been up until midnight and back up at six in the morning fixing the car. I guess that's what makes it really special for me, that it all came together when it counted. It was a great race, Mark gave me room and did exactly what I would have done -- he pressured me a little bit, but not to the point of being reckless. I was able to really push hard for the first couple of laps and try to build a gap, and then maintain it, because you can wear these cars out if you keep pushing too hard. It was the perfect race, all things considered."

Though Bootz was able to put his No. 36 Bootz Industries Stohr WF-1/Suzuki in front of Jaremko when the trio when side-by-side through Turn One, Jaremko didn't let Bootz get very far. Only a handful of corners later Jaremko's No. 2 GDRE Dauntless/WRD/Goodyear Stohr WF-1/2007 GDRE was back in the runner-up spot.

Following a late-race battle with Chris Farrell, of Salt Lake City, Utah, Bootz was able to hang onto the final podium spot. Farrell finished fourth in the No. 58 C&M Mfg./GDR Engines/Hoosier Tire Stohr WF-1/Suzuki.

Jean-Luc Liverato, of Alpharetta, Ga., completed the top five in the No. 8-Ball Racing/Hoosier/KWS Stohr WF-1/Suzuki.

Roy Maxwell, of Arlington, Texas, advanced four positions during the race to earn the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.

Race 12: McClughan wins first Showroom Stock C National Championship

Chicago Region SCCA Triple Crown® winner Joe McClughan, of New Braunfels, Texas, won a well-fought battle with two-time Runoffs Champion Joel Lipperini, of Pittston, Pa., to win his first Showroom Stock C National Championship at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. Lipperini finished second and Bill Hagerty, of Escondido, Calif., finished third.

McClughan started from the pole in the No. 36 Madzaspeed/Hoosier Tires/mr/MREe Mazda 3s and led the first two laps until Lipperini passed McClughan in Turn Three for the lead. From there, McClughan spent the next 14 laps glued to the back of Lipperini's No. 81 RaceLabz.com/Hankook/RaceShopper Honda Civic Si.

After going through several turns side-to-side on lap 15, McClughan finally made a gutsy move in Turn Eight, passing Lipperini for the race lead. Undaunted, Lipperini made one last attempt in Turn Nine to retake the lead, but did not have enough. McClughan won by 8.434-seconds.

"It was incredibly close, side-by-side racing. It's like Joel said, if it's with someone you trust, with someone you've run with before, it's not an issue. You know what's going to happen. You never turn your back on Joel Lipperini. Never. He will chase you down even with no tires on the car. I was driving as hard as I could the last two laps.

"'Wow' is all I can say. The Triple Crown is incredible, but to win the National Championship [that's great]. I've been wanting to do this since I was eight years-old. My dad finished second in D Sports Racer at Road Atlanta in 1972 and I've been trying to do this for him ever since, so this one's for my dad."

Hagerty, driver of the No. 7 Hoosier Phoenix Performance Chevrolet Cobalt SS Coupe, challenged for the lead early in the race. Unfortunately, halfway through the race, the race leaders put a considerable distance between themselves and Hagerty and he finished third.

Two-time Runoffs Champion John Saucier, of Oklahoma City, Okla., and Ian Stewart, of Orlando, Fla., finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Jeff Jensen, of Monument, Colo., was the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing two positions throughout the race.

Race 12: Knuteson Captures Elusive SCCA National Championship In Formula 500

Jason Knuteson, of Danville, Ind., captured what had been an elusive Formula 500 title on Saturday morning at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. Aaron Ellis, of Farmington, Minn., and David Lapham, of Irvington, N.Y., outlasted the field to join Knuteson on the podium.

Knuteson had sat on pole for the Formula 500 class for three years, but bad luck and other misfortune kept him from claiming the class crown. This year, Knuteson clinched his title by 15.512 seconds and led all 18 laps in the No. 92 Hoosier/Mitchell Racing Scorpion S1/Rotax.

"It feels good," said an elated Knuteson. "I would trade all three poles [for a win]. I stopped trying to get poles two years ago. But, the car has just been really fast. That car literally came out of that trailer [fast]. We've been here since last Thursday and I've made one air pressure adjustment and lowered it a quarter of a turn. That car has been a rocket from the first day we got here. A win at this level is really big."

Ellis made a steady climb from his ninth place starting position in his No. 43 Carlisle/CFF/Ellis Motorsports Eillis AE06/Rotax. Ellis began a battle with Steven Thompson on lap two, and together the pair worked their way to fourth place.

That battle became a fight for the podium when 2006 Champion Bryan Golay, running in second, had a mechanical issue on Lap 12. One lap later, Thompson spun and Ellis was all alone in third position. Ellis took the runner-up position on lap 17 from Robert Giesen as Giesen's tires began to fade.

Starting fourth on the grid, Lapham battled a tough handling car from the start and was consumed by the Ellis-Thompson duel on lap three. From there, he followed the same path as Ellis' race, including moving past Giesen on the final lap and found himself on the podium.

Giesen, of Sherwood, Wisc., held on for fourth place. Kenny Price, of Dewey, Ill., started seventh and improved to fifth place. The Sunoco Hard Charger award was earned by James Libecco, of Solon, Ohio, who began the race in 24th and ended in 12th.

Race 13: Zabinski Gives Ferrari First-Ever Runoffs Win

Carefully dodging a disabled car on course in the closing laps, Edward Zabinski, of Stockbridge, Ga., earned his and Ferrari's first Runoffs win during the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. John Buttermore, Pontiac, Mich., and Scott Tucker, of Overland Park, Kan., completed the podium for the Hawk Performance Touring 1 National Championship Race.

Starting second, Zabinski immediately put pressure on polesitter and defending Champion Andrew Aquilante for the lead. For the next 13 laps, Zabinski's No. 77 Level 5 Motorports Ferrari 360 Modena shadowed Aquilante's No. 36 Hoosier/Phoenix Perf/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette, occasionally pulling his Ferrari alongside the Corvette down the front stretch.

"I knew if I couldn't get around Andrew at the beginning, I'd have to keep the pressure on him," Zabinski said. "As it turned out, it was going to be really hard to get around Andrew.

On lap 15, a lapped car spun in Turn 12 just ahead of the leaders, puncturing a tire on Aquilante's Corvette while Zabinski passed by into the lead.

The full-course yellow came out on lap 17 of the 18-lap race, not enough time to clean up the incident in Turn 12. The race would end under yellow, with Zabinski earning his first National Championship and getting Ferrari its first Runoffs victory. Zabinski also set a new Runoffs race lap record of 1:41.523.

After waiting patiently behind the battling Aquilante and Zabinski, Buttermore crossed the finish line second in the No. 52 Hoosier/Nearbrook Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette. It was the second-consecutive runner-up finish in T1 for Buttermore.

Zabinski's teammate, Tucker, completed the podium in the No. 55 Level 5 Motorsports Ferrari 360 Modena.

Driving the No. 73 Phoenix/Hoosier Chevrolet Corvette, David Joseph Sanders, of Exton, Pa., finished fourth. He was followed by the No. 7 Hoosier/Carbotech/Phoenix Chevrolet Corvette of Chris Ingle, from Raeford, N.C., who battled back from first-lap contact and a spin that dropped him to last.

Oli Thordarson, of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., advanced five positions during the race in his No. 13 Alvaka Networks/OC Corvette Chevrolet Corvette and earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.

Race 14: Collishaw Captures H Production National Championship at Heartland Park Topeka

Dan Collishaw, of Carmel, Ind., won his second H Production National Championship at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. Matt Brannon, of Columbus, Ohio, and Greg Gauper, of Hubertus, Wis., completed the podium.

Driving the No. 81 Naples Valley Brand Products Austin-Healy Sprite, Collishaw was engaged in a race-long, back-and-forth battle with polesitter Tom Feller. Unfortunately, on lap 15, Feller's car had a mechanical issue which ended his day, while Collishaw continued to build a sizable lead over then third place driver Brannon. Collishaw went on to win the race by 7.464-seconds over Brannon.

"We were really evenly matched," Collishaw said. "We were really close everywhere. He'd make a mistake and I'd take advantage of it. I'd make a mistake and he'd take an advantage of it. It feels great. This was my first time winning on the track. It's real special being able to do a real victory lap."

Collishaw's previous National Championship came after the provisional winner was disqualified.

Starting fourth in the No. 22 www.midwest-x19.com Fiat X-1/9, Brannon ran a consistent race to stay within in striking distance of the leaders and his consistency paid off. When Feller could not continue, Brannon inherited second place and he could not overcome Collishaw's more than seven second lead.

Gauper, who started fifth in the No. 15 Rana Mort Racing/Kind Motorsports Honda Civic Si, said the lap nine caution came at just the right time. This gave him the opportunity to cool his tires and engine -- just the things he need to do to make a late-race push and it work. Over the final eight laps, he picked up two positions to finish third.

Tim Pitts, of Louisville, Tenn., finished fourth in the No. 11 Performance Tuning Volkswagen Golf. Gary Wittman, of Costa Mesa, Calif., was fifth in the No. 38 Tiodize/Venolia Austin-Healy Sprite. Jamie Blust, of Castle, Colo., was the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing nine positions throughout the race.

Race 16: Keller Passes Kasemets on Drag Race To Checkers For Formula Ford SCCA National Championship

Chris Keller, of Green Brook, N.J., raced Tonis Kasemets, of Mundelein, Ill., out of the circuit's final turn and down the front straight to nip Kasemets by the nose of his Formula Ford at the finish line to capture a 0.136-second victory at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. Jeremy Treadway, of Putnam Station, N.Y., survived an early-race incident to finish third.

Kasemets jumped out to an early lead in his No. 37 Goodyear Vestal 09F while polesitter Keller, in the No. 15 Goodyear/Loynings Engine Service/FastForward Swift DB 6 battled with Tony Coello. Keller slipped past Coello on lap three, but by that point Kasesmets had opened up a lead of more than two seconds.

While Keller had begun to close the gap on Kasemets, Treadway was battling with No. 2 Michael Sauce and No. 44 Alex Schutte for fourth place. The three drivers made contact in Turn 14, and with Schutte stopped on track the race went to full-course caution.

That erased Kasemets' gap on Keller, and when the race restarted on lap nine, Keller began looking for an opportunity to steal the lead. Kasemets had an answer for every move the Keller made, with Kasemets' car seemingly four lanes wide trying to keep Keller in second place. On the front straight headed to the checkered flag, Keller slipped past Kasemets in a drag race.

As it turned out, Kasemets was having mechanical problems that caused the engine to sputter just slightly, and that helped to propel Keller past on the last straight.

"I was definitely happy to see the yellow flag," Keller said. "If the race had gone green, we were reeling (Kasemets) in and it would have been a real close battle either way. It was a close race, wheel-to-wheel through most of the course. When I'd get ahead, he had a great draft to get by. If he hadn't have had that problem, who knows what would have happened."

Treadway, who had recovered from the contact and spin in his No. 12 GoodYear/Farley Engine/Stonebridge Swift DB6, restarted the race in 10th but had climbed back into third just four laps later.

Sauce, of Arlington, Texas, recovered to finish in fourth. Thomas Schwietz, Jr., of Winchester, Va., finished in fifth. The Sunoco Hard Charger was awarded to No. 24 Tim Webb, of West Fork, Ark., who improved 11 positions to 13th at the finish.

Race 17: Zekert Crowned GT-Lite National Champion

In his 17th Runoffs start, Peter Zekert, of Maryland Heights, Mo., claimed his first National Title, winning GT-Lite at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs. Peter Shadowen, of Loxahatchee, Fla., and Chad Bacon, of Kingsport, Tenn., completed the podium at Heartland Park Topeka.

Starting third, Zekert became the luckiest man in the race before the green flag even flew, as the entire front row disappeared before the race could begin. Polesitter Christopher Bovis lost power to his No. 1 Goodyear/Honda/JDM Motorsports Honda CRX on the pace lap. With the start waved off, second-place qualifier Brian Linn, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., pulled his No. 21 Hoosier Tires/CW Horton GC MG Midget into pitlane making Zekert the polesitter.

Shadown's No. 72 Goodyear/RedLine/Road-n-Race Honda CRX followed Zekert into Turn One. Shadowen was soon passed by the No. 6 of Lans Stout, from Cornelius, Ore., who began to chase Zekert. Stout kept the pressure on Zekert until spinning on lap 13.

Zekert was never challenged again in his No. 45 Booble/Goodyear/Red Line Nissan 200SX SE-R crossing the finish line 4.573 seconds ahead of second place Shadowen.

"I just kept going and one time, Lans tried to look inside of me between three and four," Zekert said. "I know when you do that and you're not all the way inside of the car, it makes four so difficult, and I saw in my mirror Lans was spinning. Then, I just told myself it was like any national here, and just clicked off lap after lap. It feels unbelievable."

Like Zekert, Shadowen benefited from attrition in the 18-lap race as well. Following Stout's Lap 13 mistake, Shadowen was promoted to second, which he held for the remaining five laps.

Starting ninth, Bacon had a tremendous race in the No. 18 TRD/Goodyear/Robinson RacingToyota Tercel. Bacon spent most of the race dicing with Jim Hargrove's No. 38 Race Energy/Analytic Systems Honda CRX, winning the battle after Hargrove retired and moved up to third with Peterson and Stout's troubles.

William Gilcrease, of Costa Mesa, Calif., finished fourth, followed by Topeka's own Don Christman in fifth.

Daniel Stalzer, of Plainfield, Ill., earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 11 positions during the race in the No. 41 Toyota Corolla.

Race 18: Fergus Wins Sixth Sports 2000 National Title

TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 11, 2008) -- Polesitter John Fergus II, of Powell, Ohio, led flag-to-flag to capture his sixth Sports 2000 National Championship at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. Bart Wolf, of Elkhart Lake, Wis., and Fergus' son Corey Fergus, of Powell, Ohio, finished second and third, respectively.

Piloting the No. 00 Hoosier Tires/Fergus Companies Carbir CS2, John Fergus made winning his sixth national title look easy. The only time he was seriously challenged was when Wolf briefly led heading into Turn Alpha at the start of the race. However, Wolf's lead was short-lived, as Fergus overtook Wolf in Turn One and never looked back. Fergus won by 7.996-seconds.

"Corey and I had a little more downforce this weekend and we silently thought we needed to get up there in Turn One, at least head-to-head," Fergus said. "We went down in Turn One so deep, both of us [Fergus and Bart Wolf], because I knew he was thinking about going around the outside. My car really planted well in one, which gave me a good launch through two. I just concentrated on hitting my marks in the first lap. Like these two [Wolf and Corey Fergus], I just went about trying to nail every lap. About four laps in, [Wolf] put a charge on and really got into a groove. It actually cut into my lead a bit, which my crew conveyed to me, and I had to crank it up myself a bit. The car was flawless."

Wolf, who drove the No. 28 Goodyear/My Visa/Arms up/TCP Carbir CS2.8, spent most of his race trying to catch John Fergus. Unfortunately, Fergus proved to be too much and Wolf finished second.

Corey Fergus started third in the No. 07 Fergus Companies Carbir CS2 and ran a consistent race in his first-ever runoffs.

Tony Sleath, of Dearborn, Mich., drove his No. 13 St. Clair Motorsports/Goodyear Carbir CS2 to a fourth place finish, while Rob Sherwood, of St. Louis, Mo., was fifth in the No. 05 Pace Properties Carbir CS2. Sleath was also the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing two positions throughout the race.

SCCA also named the winners of the annual Volunteer of the Year awards. This year's winners are:

Emergency Services - Ralph Baldwin, RN, Great Lakes Division
Grid and Pit -- Kevin McDonald, Northeast Division
Timing & Scoring -- Mike Folsom, Northern Pacific Division
Scrutineers -- David Badger, Northeast Division
Race Administration -- Margie Swanson, Southern Pacific Division
Sound -- Berta Segar, Southeast Division
Flagging & Communication -- Ronda Knapp, Great Lakes Division
Registration -- Jerry & Helga Meyer, Central Division
Steward -- Earl Hurlbut, Northeast Division
Starter -- Keith Pfautz, Midwest Division

-credit: scca

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Series SCCA
Drivers Kenny Price , Joel Lipperini , John Fergus , Aaron Ellis , Milton Grant , Bart Wolf , Bill Hagerty , Mark Jaremko , Pete Peterson , John Black , Tom Feller , Jamie Blust , Dan Collishaw , Chris Keller , Gary Wittman , Greg Gauper , Tonis Kasemets , John Buttermore , Chris Farrell , Jeremy Treadway , Scott Tucker , Andrew Aquilante , J.R. Osborne , Jean-Luc Liverato , Chris Ingle , Corey Fergus