Sports Car Club of America

EVENTS

Mallinen Wins First-Career Formula Atlantic Title and Super Sweep at SCCA National Runoffs

Mallinen wins Formula Atlantic title and Super Sweep at Runoffs (Jay Bonvouloir photo) Mallinen wins Formula Atlantic title and Super Sweep at Runoffs (Jay Bonvouloir photo) View Full Size

 

Mallinen Wins First-Career Formula Atlantic Title and Super Sweep at SCCA National Runoffs
 
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Sept. 25, 2011) – Michael Mallinen, of Liberty Lake, Wash., persevered through the rain to capture his first-career Formula Atlantic National Championship, while also winning the Super Sweep at the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Jeff Kowalik, of Cape Coral, Fla., and David Wilcox, of Derby, Kan., completed the podium.
 
Mallinen started from the Gumout pole position in the No. 71 Hoosier Tires/TRD Swift Toyota and quickly came under attack by second-starting David Grant, and his brother third-starting Keith Grant, both of Germantown, Tenn. David and Keith both passed Mallinen on the first lap, respectively, and were running nose to tail for the first five laps.
 
During this time, the Grant brothers worked together to open up a more than 20 second lead over Mallinen. On lap six, the brothers were side-by-side at the stripe with the slight edge to David to lead that lap. Heading into Turn Three Keith, in the No. 40 Hoosier/Hasselgren/Polestar Swift 014a Toyota, got too deep into the turn and made contact with the back of David’s No. 12 Swift Toyota. The resultant contact spun both drivers, sending Keith into the gravel, while David stalled on track. Unfortunately, neither driver could get their respective machines going before Mallinen came down the hill to inherit the lead.
 
Though Mallinen was now the race leader, he was under fire by Kowalik in the No. 77 Northcentral/Mazda/Hoosier Swift 016a Mazda. On lap 10, Kowalik was less than a second behind Mallinen with three laps to go. Kowalik looked poised to catch the leader, but Mallinen had just enough to keep Kowalik at bay and won by 3.368-seconds.
 
“We were extremely fast in the dry over the last couple of weeks, so when it became a wet race, we knew we had a very good wet setup,” Mallinen said. “In the first couple laps, David [Grant] got by me. I knew that would be his goal so he could stay out of the spray and Keith [Grant] went after him. My strategy was to have controlled aggression throughout the race and just to get consistently faster. I saw them taking a couple of chances, and then I lost sight of them.
 
“I saw them again down at Turn Three. I felt bad for them, but I was very happy to see them, too. Up until that point in the race, it was really exploring the track, trying to find where there was grip. We’d gotten faster and faster through one, so we were finding where the grip was and where we could be fast. I wasn’t too alarmed, I knew it was a long race and it was in the rain, so I thought there would be certain things that happened and we could get back into it."
 
Mallinen’s National Championship added to an already stellar season, in which he won the Southeast Division points title, the National points title and a key qualifying event in the regular season. The sum of his season’s work resulted in his first-career Formula Atlantic Super Sweep.
 
“It’s unbelievable [the win and the Super Sweep]. At the beginning of the year, we had certain goals as a team, and the type of results we had this year were not within our goals at the time. To win the Super Sweep and the Triple Crown, we won the National Point Championship this year, and then the top spot at the Runoffs is absolutely just a magical year.”
 
Kowalik started fourth and finished second, which was a career-best Runoffs finish for him.
 
“I got to close to [Mallinen] and I couldn’t see,” Kowalik said. “Continually, I would catch him in the Carousel and then couldn’t see when I got to the Kink. So it was, ‘get back out of it and survive the race,’ because I really thought the race was going to be a survival thing. It was not to be aggressive or I was going to end up in the weeds with several of the others. We took our time trying to be patient, and just hang around and hopefully be there. It worked out, it was very slick but, at the same time, it was a lot of fun chasing them. Mike and I have driven a lot together and chased each other a lot so it was a good time.”
 
Wilcox started eighth in the No. 10 Hoosier/TRD/Don Preston Racing Swift DB4 Toyota and pushed his way through some treacherous race conditions to be fourth by lap six. For the next seven laps, he was knocking on the door for third, but couldn’t quite get close enough to Bruce Hamilton’s, of Monkton, Md., No. 36 K-Hill Motorsports Swift 016a Mazda. On the last lap, Hamilton spun in Turn Eight, which allowed Wilcox to inherit the final podium spot.
 
“It was wet and really slick,” Wilcox said. “We didn’t have a very good setup on it, we had a lot of front downforce so even just in aero corners the back end would walk around. I had to be light on the throttle and on the steering wheel and just continue to drive and hope for the best.
 
“I was ecstatic [when he saw Hamilton had spun]. I was coming through seven and saw him sitting at the bottom of the hill turned sideways. He looked like he was just dead in the water. I thought, I just gotta go. I couldn’t get the power down and it was just stepping out all over the place. Once I got around him, I just hoped that I put enough between me and him that I’d be alright. I’ve said it a couple of times, but third place in the DB-4 feels like a championship.”
 
Fabio Castellani, of Streamwood, Ill., finished fourth in the No. 97 Toyota 014 Toyota. Castellani was also the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing eight positions during the race.
 
Lewis Cooper, of Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., finished fifth in the No. 68 Martini/Voss Water/St. Charles Wine Swift 014 Toyota.
 
Keith Grant turned the Hawk Fastest Race Lap with a 2:34.738 (93.061 mph).
 
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 Sunday’s Formula Atlantic 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), Michael Mallinen, Liberty Lake, WA, Swift Toyota, 13.
2, (4), Jeff Kowalik, Cape Coral, FL, Swift 016a Mazda, 13.
3, (8), David Wilcox, Derby, KS, Swift DB4 Toyota, 13.
4, (12), Fabio Castellani, Streamwood, IL, Toyota 014 Toyota, 13.
5, (7), Lewis Cooper, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI, Swift 014 Toyota, 13.
6, (6), Jacek Mucha, Laval, QC, JMS 016CP Mazda, 13.
7, (10), Ahsen Yelkin, Canfield, OH, Swift 008a Toyota, 13.
8, (9), R Bruce Hamilton, Monkton, MD, Swift 016a Mazda, 12.
9, (5), Matt Miller, Orland Park, IL, Swift 016a Mazda, 12.
10, (11), Richard Zober, Newtown, PA, Swift 016a Mazda, 12.
11, (15), David Del Sol, South Miami, FL, Swift Swift Toyota, 8.
12, (3), Keith Grant, Germantown, TN, Swift 014a Toyota, 6.
DNF, (2), David Grant, Germantown, TN, Swift Toyota, 5.
DNF, (14), Charles C. Duncan, Broomfield, CO, Swift 016a Mazda, 4.
DNS, (13), William Goldkind, Holbrook, NY, Swift Toyota, 0.
 
Overall Time of Race: 35:50.352
Average Race Speed: 87.056 mph
Margin of Victory: 3.368 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: #40 Keith Grant, 2:34.738 (93.061 mph)
Sunoco Hard Charger: #97 Fabio Castellani
Lap Leaders: #12 David Grant Laps 1 – 5, #71 Michael Millinen Laps 6 – 13