Ziegler Wins Wild Touring 2 National Championship TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 10, 2008) -- William Ziegler, of Stamford, Conn., won his first SCCA National Championship in dramatic fashion, as contact on the last lap sent then-leader Don Knowles, of ...
Ziegler Wins Wild Touring 2 National Championship
TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 10, 2008) -- William Ziegler, of Stamford, Conn., won his first SCCA National Championship in dramatic fashion, as contact on the last lap sent then-leader Don Knowles, of Pittsboro, N.C., spinning across Ziegler's nose and into the wall. Ziegler kept his cool to take the checkered flag, followed by Andy Wolverton, of Papillion, Neb., and Michael Pettiford, of Louisville, Colo., at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs, at Heartland Park Topeka.
Starting from the pole, Knowles had a perfect start and immediately began to pull a gap on the rest of the field in his No. 35 Phoenix/Hoosier/Hawk/iRacing.com Pontiac Solstice GXP. At the race's halfway point, Knowles had built more than two seconds on second-place Ziegler in the No. 05 Swisher/Hoosier/Phoenix Pontiac Solstice GXP. Zielger and his team had prepared for this however, and the car began to hit its prime in the second-half of the race.
"We did a lot of tire testing here," Ziegler said. "We put together a setup that we knew we wouldn't be quite as quick as Don [Knowles] early in the race, but as long as I could stay close enough to pressure him late, our tires would be better to pressure him. With the combination of lapped traffic and his tires going away, we got back up to him."
With only a handful of laps remaining, Knowles lead had disappeared and his mirrors were now filled with the nose of Ziegler's Solstice. As the white flag flew in the starter's stand, Ziegler pulled to the inside of Knowles heading into Turn Alpha. When Knowles attempted to slide back to his racing line, Ziegler's front fender already occupied the spot. The contact sent Knowles into a spin and into the wall.
"I was able to show him a nose in every corner," continued Ziegler. "I was trying to get in his head. We came up onto the front straight and I got up inside him. I had a really good run going on the left side. We got to the kink where Alpha is. I was pressed right against the wall. I was to his door and he started coming across and I thought 'I've got no where to go here.' He came across the front of my car and I spun him. It's not a good view at 100 mph seeing another car go across the front of your's."
Setting the fastest lap of the race, a 1:45.592, Ziegler was certainly the fastest car on the track and well deserving of the T2 National Championship, but couldn't help feel bad about the way in which his title was won.
"I really hate for the race to go that way," Ziegler said. "It was a really unfortunate incident. I'm sure Don thought he had me cleared and everything was okay. He doesn't drive like that and I don't either. When the wall is this far away on the left, you've got nowhere to go.
"Don is my friend and I hate to see it go like this."
Ziegler was followed across the finish line by two first-time podium finishers who had an exciting battle of their own. Driving the No. 86 Raw Racing Pontiac Solstice GXP, Wolverton put on a spectacular show, charging through the field from sixth to finish second. After placing some considerable pressure on Pettiford for second, some well-timed lapped traffic allowed Wolverton to take over the runner-up position on the second-to-last lap.
Competing in the three classes, Pettiford crossed the finish line third in the No. 41 Go 4 It Racing Schools Pontiac Solstice GXP.
William Moore, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, put four Solstices in the top four, finishing just off the podium in his No. 3 Msports/Swift/Backstreet/Hoosier Pontiac Solstice.
Completing the top five in the No. 34 AMSPerformance/VIP/TRE Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, Marty Grand, of Manassas Park, Va., also earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing six positions in the race.
The SCCA National Championship Runoffs® The Pinnacle of American Motorsports, will crown Sports Car Club of America's Club Racing National Champions for the 45th-consecutive year in 2008. The best amateur drivers from across North America will compete on Heartland Park Topeka's 2.5-mile road course in what is considered the "Olympics" of motorsports. This year's event began with four days of qualifying, Oct. 6-9, and has now commenced three days of National Championship racing, Oct. 10-12.
Note: Please see Wolverton awarded T2 title