Sargis wins second-career F Production SCCA National Championship at Road America
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Sept. 23, 2011) – Gumout pole winner Steve Sargis, of Frankfort, Ill., won his second-career F Production National Championship at the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Eric Prill, of Topeka, Kan., finished a career-best second, while Charlie Campbell, of Corry, Pa., finished third.
Sargis started from the pole in the No. 18 SBS Batteries/Goodyear Triumph Spitfire 1500 and was passed at the start by Prill. However, it only took Sargis four more corners to get up to speed and retake the lead in Turn 5. Throughout the first lap, there was quite a battle between Sargis, Prill and Ken Kannard, of East Troy, Wis., for position.
By the third lap, Sargis opened a nearly three-second lead, while Prill, Kannard, and Kevin Ruck, of Delaware, Ohio, battled for second. This battle allowed Sargis pull away from the pack and never looked back, winning by 14.447-seconds over Prill. It was Sargis’ second-career F Production National Championship and his sixth-career overall title at the Runoffs.
“I knew it was bad because the pace car coming up the hill at the worst possible RPM I could be at,” Sargis said of his race start. “I thought as soon as he [the pace car] pulled into the pits, I would get to my sweet spot as quickly as possible. Eric was a little bit behind me at that point. But, he caught up to me and he kind of drifted by me. He was ahead of me at that point and here came the green flag. It was kind of close going down the front straight. He was kind of maintaining his spot and I thought maybe I could outbrake him. I saw Kevin come up and push him. Then there was no way [I was going to outbrake him]. I just decided to stay in line and see what kind of draft I could get off of him going into Turn 5. He didn’t protect going into [Turn] 5, so I got inside of him there. It was good to watch them race back there.”
Yesterday, Prill had an issue with his transmission and the team thought they fixed the problem late last night. During this morning’s hardship lap, Prill discovered the problem was not fixed. In fact, he thought his day was done before it even started. But, another competitor loaned Prill a transmission and several friends put it in the No. 7 Jesse Prather Motorsports/Hoosier/OS Giken Mazda Miata late this morning just in time for Prill to go racing.
Prill, who started second on the F Production grid, did not waste any time. He led the field into Turn 1 at the start and looked strong heading into Turns 2, 3, and 4. But, then Sargis passed Prill in Turn 5.
Riding in second, Prill, Kannard and Ruck swapped spots several times for the next five laps until Kannard pulled his Mazda Miata off course at the end of the front straight with a mechanical issue. That left Prill and Ruck to duke it out for second.
This battle continued until lap 11 when Ruck, the defending Champion, fell off the pace and pulled his Acura Integra into pit lane one lap later. As a result, Prill had a more than 20 lead over the third place battle that was going on between Campbell and fourth-place finisher Sam Henry, of Republic, Mo. Prill’s second-place finish was a career-best at the Runoffs.
“I don’t have a lot of crew, but I have a lot of friends,” Prill said of the last minute help putting in the new transmission. “We worked until after midnight last night to get it back in and thought it was fixed. I went out for a hardship lap this morning and there was no second gear, so I came in and parked it. A bunch of people jumped together and attacked the car, and 2 1/2 hours later Jesse Prather called and said the transmission was in. Just to make the race was really something.
“In the past years, we’ve all had this mentality that we were racing for second place. This year, we’re getting a little bit closer to Steve and able to work on our pace. I really wanted to attack. I got the lead on the start, and thought this is good. The last thing we wanted to do was let him get away. But the gearing was a little bit different in this transmission than I was used to. It was tough to race with those gears against those guys because they were coming out of corners better than I was. It was a lot of back and forth because of that.
“It’s very satisfying to finish second. A lot of us come to win. I came to win this year. Steve is the bench mark and I came to beat him. We didn’t quite accomplish that, but it was still a really good week.”
Prill turned the Hawk Fastest Race Lap of the race with a 2:32.345 (94.522 mph).
Campbell started fifth in the No. 89 Campbell Brothers Racing/Hoosier Mazda Miata and spent the first part the race in sixth, just within striking distance of the race leaders. As Kannard and Ruck fell out of the top five, Campbell found himself third with four laps to go. That’s when a great battle for the final podium spot began. Campbell and Henry, in his No. 37 SpringfieldDyno/SafeRacer/Goodyear Mazda Miata, were side-by-side and swapped spots several times over the final few laps. But, on the final lap, coming out of Turn 14, Campbell just held off Henry by 0.019-second at the stripe for third.
“I had a pretty good lead on [Henry] for a while there, and the tires started to go away and I started having problems,” Campbell said. “I saw him coming. With about three laps to go, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to [hold the position]. I kind of backed off there and tried to find some way to get back around him. I got a big run on him in the kink, and just kind of showed my nose a little bit and backed off and planned for the next lap to get around him. I timed it perfectly, when I got to the kink I was right on his back bumper. When the track opened up, I got a pretty good run on him. I got up alongside him and the only thing I could do was try to outbrake him and pray that it would stick. He was very nice and clean about it and I need to thank him for that.
“I knew when he was coming up on me that he was getting through 14 better than I was. I just got through there as best I could and tried to get a good run out of there, put her to the floor and hang on to it. I just kept watching him in the mirror and driving straight, hoping it would be enough. It was close.
“This is great. It’s awesome. I can’t thank enough people for all of the help this year. It’s been quite a run this year, and has been great doing this with my brother, Tom.”
Bill Wessel, of Madison, Wis., finished fifth in the No. 47 Nissan/Goodyear Nissan SPL311.
Brent Louzon, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was the Sunoco Hard Charger after finishing 15th.
Now in its 48th year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs annually crowns Champions in the Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing classes. The live broadcast of all 28 National Championship races will be available throughout the weekend at www.Speedcasttv.com/scca and later available On Demand from the same site.
Follow the action on Twitter @SCCAOfficial or the SCCA, Inc. Official Facebook page at facebook.com/sccaofficial. More information is available at www.scca.com.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Provisional Results from Friday’s F Production National Championship Race, part of the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Steve Sargis, Frankfort, IL, Triumph Spitfire 1500, 13.
2, (2), Eric Prill, Topeka, KS, Mazda Miata, 13.
3, (5), Charlie Campbell, Corry, PA, Mazda Miata, 13.
4, (10), Sam Henry, Republic, MO, Mazda Miata, 13.
5, (7), Bill Wessel, Madison, WI, Nissan SPL311, 13.
6, (8), Robert Bramlage, Junction City, KS, Mazda Miata, 13.
7, (12), Scott Lunder, Mentor On The Lake, OH, Honda Civic, 13.
8, (14), Joe Walker, Richland, MI, Lotus Super 7, 13.
9, (15), Sean Powers, Peoria, AZ, Mazda Miata, 13.
10, (13), Robert Keller, Algonquin, IL, Volvo P1800, 13.
11, (16), Mark Weber, Saint Louis, MO, Mazda Miata, 13.
12, (17), Chris Patrick, Derry, PA, Triumph Spitfire 1500, 13.
13, (19), Mike Gnadt, Kiel, WI, MG Midget, 13.
14, (18), James R Smith MD, Alvin, TX, Honda Civic Del Sol, 12.
15, (22), Brent Louzon, Colorado Springs, CO, BMW 2002, 12.
16, (21), Paul Jensen, Colorado Springs, CO, Mazda Miata, 12.
17, (9), Mason Workman, Reynoldsburg, OH, Mazda Miata, 12.
18, (4), Kevin Ruck, Delaware, OH, Acura Integra, 11.
19, (3), Ken Kannard, East Troy, WI, Mazda Miata, 7.
20, (11), Dieter Griesinger, Maple Park, IL, Triumph Spitfire 1500, 6.
DNF, (6), Donald Kraftson, New York, NY, Elva Courier, 4.
DNF, (20), Gerald Lamb, Oswego, IL, MG B, 2.
DNS, (23), Lee Feineigle, Van Buren, OH, MG Midget, 0.
Overall Time of Race: 33:11.728
Average Race Speed: 93.989 mph
Margin of Victory: 14.447 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: #7 Eric Prill, 2:32.345 (94.522 mph)
Sunoco Hard Charger: #05 Brent Louzon
Lap Leaders: #18 – Laps 1 – 13