ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Sept. 21, 2013) – Andrew Aquilante, of Chester Springs, Pa., dominated the Touring 1 National title race at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs® at Road America for his second victory of the weekend. Jerry Onks, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Michael Pettiford, of Louisville, Colo., completed the podium.
Aquilante started from the SafeRacer pole position in the No. 36 Phoenix Performance/Hoosier/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette and dropped to second heading into Turn One. Eight corners later, Aquilante passed Preston Calvert, of Potomac, Md., for the lead and never looked back. Aquilante weathered the race’s three-lap caution to win by 34.182-seconds, at an average speed of 83.542 mph. En route to the win, Aquilante turned the Hawk Hot Lap with a 2:15.216 (106.496 mph).
“We knew on the race start, just like in GT-2, that we were going to be a little bit outgunned down the straight away,” Aquilante said. “Preston and I jumped on the power about the same time, and I knew he was going to walk me. I was pretty nervous about David [Pintaric] and the Viper back there, as well, so I kept close to the inside to take that option away from him. The first half lap went pretty much exactly to plan. There wasn’t much I was going to do down in Turn Five with him, and so when I got him in the carousel, that’s where I expected to do it.
“I was really nervous on the restart, because I figured David could get a really big run. I knew from yesterday they through the green a lot earlier. Again, I made him go to the outside, held Turn One, and cleared off. ”
While Aquilante won his first T1 National title in 2007 at Heartland Park, his GT2 Championship yesterday and his T1 win today have more importance to him than his 2007 feat. Aquilante believes these two wins are more special because he won them at the 50th SCCA Runoffs.
“With the 50th anniversary of the Runoffs here, we looked at that and used the past National Championship provision to run GT-2,” Aquilante said. “To win that, and win T1, it’s a great honor. To win it at the 50th here at Road America, probably one of the most prestigious road courses in America, and what SCCA has done for the 50th to make it a special event again. I would have liked to have been the only one to win two, but Lawrence [Loshak] won two yesterday. They just made the event awesome, and it’s a great feeling to have won.
Onks got a good start in the No. 96 Wilwood Brakes/VetteSport/Hoosier Chevrolet Corvette and was just outside the top three early in the race. On lap seven, Onks inherited third place when Calvert’s No. 77 Phoenix Performance/Hoosier/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette had mechanical issues. Onks moved to second when then second-place driver David Pintaric pulled his No. 40 Kryderacing/WRP Investments/Hoosier Dodge Viper ACR-X off into the grass between Turns Five and Six. From there, Onks battled Pettiford late in the race to keep his second place finish by 1.1 seconds.
“We got a really good start,” Onks said. “Andrew started pulling ahead, and the rest of us were probably a second or so apart. And then, we got the caution, and that’s what allowed us to group back up. I got a good start, and something happened with Preston, and that allowed me to move up to third. We got going, and Pintaric broke down in Turn five, so that put me in second. We were just heading home, and then all of a sudden I saw this guy [Pettiford] in my mirrors and they said on the radio ‘he’s coming for you.’ We just had to keep pushing it the whole way, but the car worked great. We had problems all week long, and we’re just thankful we got it back together.”
Onks’ second place finish was a career-best at the Runoffs. His previous best finish was third in an STO car in 2010.
Mike Pettiford started eighth in the No. 41 Go 4 It Racing Schools/Hoosier/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette and managed to stay out of the Turn One trouble shortly after the start. From there, he ran a consistent race that put him on the podium for the second time in 41-career Runoffs starts.*
“I stayed out of the melee in Turn 1, and just kind of worked my way up through,” Pettiford said. “I had very good brakes on the car, and it stayed consistent all race so I could close people up as their brakes started fading. The car was just great, everybody did a fabulous job.
“It feels really good to be out of the cheap seats for a change, and be up where the lights are. The last time I was on the podium was at Topeka in the T2 class, and it feels good to be back.”
Pratt Cole, of Salt Lake City, finished fourth in the No. 88 Western Metals Transport Dodge Viper.
George Biskup, of Naperville, Ill., started 12th and finished fifth in the No. 16 Biskup Motorsorts Ford Mustang. For his efforts, he had the Go Pro Hero move of the race and was the Sunoco Hard Charger.
The 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs®, The Pinnacle of American Motorsports, will crown Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing National Champions at Road America, Friday, Sept. 20 through Sunday, Sept. 22.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Provisional results for Saturday’s Touring 1 national championship at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
2, (5), Jerry Onks, Murfreesboro, TN, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
3, (8), Michael Pettiford, Louisville, CO, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
4, (6), Pratt Cole, Salt Lake City, UT, Dodge Viper, 13.
5, (12), George Biskup, Naperville, IL, Ford Mustang, 13.
6, (13), Tim Myers, Atlanta, GA, Dodge Viper, 13.
7, (14), Tim Hund, Norfolk, VA, Dodge Viper, 13.
8, (15), Norman Betts, Ann Arbor, MI, Chevrolet Corvette C5, 13.
9, (2), Preston Calvert, Potomac, MD, Chevrolet Corvette, 11.
10, (3), David Pintaric, Canfield, OH, Dodge Viper ACR-X, 9.
11, (10), Jason Berkeley, New York, NY, Chevrolet Corvette GS, 8.
DNF, (4), Todd Napieralski, Chelsea, MI, Chevrolet Camaro SS, 3.
DNF, (11), George Winkler, Frederick, MD, Ford Mustang, 2.
DNF, (7), Joe Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA, Chevrolet Corvette, 0.
DNS, (9), Ken Davis, Escondido, CA, Chevrolet Corvette C6, .
Overall Time of Race: 37:20.799
Average Race Speed: 83.542 mph
Margin of Victory: 34.182 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:15.216
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 106.496 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #16 George Biskup
Lap Leaders: #36 – Laps 1-13