NISSAN DRIVERS WIN TWO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS AT 1999 SCCA VALVOLINE RUNOFFS LEXINGTON, Ohio (Oct. 10, 1999) - Nissan Motorsports adds two more names to its list of SCCA National Champions: Nissan 200SX drivers Daniel Minkler of North Canton,...
NISSAN DRIVERS WIN TWO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS AT 1999 SCCA VALVOLINE RUNOFFS
LEXINGTON, Ohio (Oct. 10, 1999) - Nissan Motorsports adds two more names to its list of SCCA National Champions: Nissan 200SX drivers Daniel Minkler of North Canton, Ohio and Wilson Wright Jr. of Stockbridge, Mass. With a grand total of 79, Nissan has won more championships at the Valvoline Runoffs than any other automotive manufacturer.
A total of 52 Nissan racers championed for a SCCA National title in nine different classes at the 2.4-mile, 15-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this year. Each competitor traveled to Lexington, Ohio for the 19-lap season-ending showdown against the best in his or her class.
The first victory for Nissan was in the GT5 race on Saturday, Oct. 9. With the threat of rain, the race strategy for the 31-car field came down to the selection of tires. Nissan drivers Daniel Minkler, Jim Rauck and Peter Zekert, who finished first, third and fourth, respectively, knew they made the correct decision in choosing treaded tires when the rain started falling heavily midway through the race.
Starting from seventh place, Minkler in the No. 26 Flourolast Nissan 200SX jumped to fourth place at the start of the race. He followed leader Jack Baumgardner closely while he led the middle portion of the race, and took over the lead when Baumgardner went into pit lane with transmission troubles.
"Jack was in my sight the entire race," said Minkler. "When we came out of turn 12, I made up a lot of distance so I thought he had a problem. I felt bad for Jack. The irony is, Jack's car is my wife's favorite and the one she roots for. I guess today was my day to inherit the win. And, I almost didn't make it here. I had a coming together with Jim (Rauck) at the August National and lost the good motor. Now, I am glad I was able to make it here."
Nissan's second victory of the weekend was earned by Wilson Wright, Jr., who repeated as winner of the GT4 class. This time around was not as easy as last year's victory in the Nissan 200SX. Once again, the weather conditions played an important role in the outcome of the race.
"I had to contend with the track and three other guys this year," said Wright Jr., who started the race on slick tires. "It wasn't raining, but it was just misting making it a very difficult race. It took a lot of work to keep the track under me. It was like ice racing."
Wright, who started the race in second, dropped back to fourth, but then gingerly fought his way back up to the front taking the lead from Kirk Olson on lap 15. Pole winner John Olsen, of Monterey, Calif., also drove a strong race in his Nissan 200SX. Driving in what he described as, "the toughest race of my life because it was so greasy," Olsen hung on to finish third.
There were several other notable performances made by Nissan drivers during the three days of racing at Mid-Ohio:
Grayson Upchurch, of Alpharetta, Ga., started on the pole and led nine of the ten-lap E Production race, which was shortened because of the 40-minute time limit. In one of the weekend's most exciting last-lap battles, Upchurch fought hard but lost the lead just a few turns from the checkered flag and finished second.
Another pole winner, Nissan 240SX racer John Black, of Olympic Valley, Calif., led the first five laps of the GT3 race, but eventually dropped out of the race after spinning. Houston, Texas resident, Jim Goughary, who started from the pole in the GT2 class, ran in the top five in his Nissan 300ZX but also ended his day with a ride off track.
Ken Payson, of Sun City Center, Fla. and Scott Culbertson, of Portland, Ore. both had strong showings at the crown jewel of amateur road racing. Payson led three laps in the Showroom Stock C race with his Nissan 200SER and finished fifth. In the G Production race, 20-year-old Scott Culbertson finished fourth with the Datsun 510 in his first appearance at the SCCA National Championships.
Race Results (Top Three and Top Three Nissans)
EP 1. Bob Endicott, No. 67 Honda Prelude 2. Grayson Upchurch, No. 6 Datsun 240Z 3. Bob Boig, No. 13 Mazda Miata 18. Don Bunt, No. 99 Datsun 240Z 20. Norman Nelson, No. 40 Nissan Sentra SER
GP 1. Steve Sargis, No. 18 TriumphSpitfire 2. Kevin Allen, No. 44 TriumphSpitfire 3. Thomas Reichenbach, No. 32 Fiat X1/9 4. Scott Culbertson, No. 8 Datsun 510 69. Greg Masters, No. 69 Datsun 510 80. Kevin Dennis, No. 80 Nissan 510
GT2 1. Tom Patton, No. 50 Sunbeam Tiger 2. Bill Reid, No. 87 Toyota Celica 3. Jim Blakewell, No. 2 Porsche 914-6 7. Robert Lentz, No. 64 Nissan 280ZX 8. Jeff Beckenbach, No. 33 Nissan 280Z 11. Roger Welling, No. 78 Nissan 280Z
GT3 1. Pete Peterson, No. 98 Toyota Paseo 2. Stacy Wilson, No. 47 Mazda RX-7 3. Paul Young, No. 79 Ford Probe 15. Jerry Bartolomucci, No. 2 Nissan 240SX 18. Richard Allen, No. 8 Nissan 240SX 20. Terry Watson, No. 29 Nissan 240SX
GT4 1. Wilson Wright Jr., No. 7 Nissan 200SX 2. Kirk Olson, No. 93 Honda CRX 3. John Olsen, No. 3 Nissan 200SX 8. Dale Mills, No. 31 Nissan 200SX
GT5 1. Daniel Minkler, No. 26 Nissan 200SX 2. Daniel Robson, No. 4 Mazda MX3 3. Jim Rauck, No. 80 Nissan 200SX 4. Peter Zekert, No. 67 Nissan 1200
SSB 1. David Daughtery, No. 1 Mazda Miata 2. Eric Morehouse, No. 72 Mazda Miata 3. Bob Schader, No. 10 Mazda Miata 11. Wiley Timbrook, No. 22 Nissan Maxima, Blue 13. Chad Melnik, No. 25 Nissan Maxima, Tan
SSC 1. Neal Sapp, No. 33 Honda Civic 2. John Phillips III, No. 43 Honda Civic 3. Kevin Adams, No. 02 Honda Civic 5. Ken Payson, No. 5 Nissan 300SER 9. Michael Liebl, No. 21 Nissan 200SX 17. Barry Brown, No. 09 Nissan 200SX
T2 1. Rob Hines, No. 4 Chevy Camaro 2. Thomas Oates, No. 99 Chevy Camaro 3. Philip Lasco, No. 44 Mustang Cobra 15. Richard Kulach, No. 05 Nissan 300ZX