Bovis Narrowly Bests Lentz at the Line to Win GT-Lite at 50th SCCA Runoffs
Bovis Narrowly Bests Lentz at the Line to Win GT-Lite at 50th SCCA Runoffs
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Sept. 22, 2013) – Chris Bovis, of Lawrence, Kan., beat Bobby Lentz, of Chantilly, Va., by 0.007-second to win his second-career GT-Lite National title at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs® at Road America. Bovis’ win is the closest Runoffs finish in the transponder era. Steve Sargis, of Frankfort, Ill., finished third.
Bovis started fifth in the No. 78 JDM Motorsports/Hoosier Tire Honda CRX and spent the first nine laps battling Kent Prather, of Wakarusa, Kan., in the No. 26 Prather Racing/Mazdaspeed/Moss Motorsports Mazda Miata for second. The two swapped spots several times before Bovis finally got by Prather for good on lap 10. From there, Bovis had his sights set on then race leader Lentz.
Bovis turned the Hawk Performance Hot Lap of the Race (2:33.161, 94.019 mph) en route to catching Lentz. On the final lap, Bovis was right behind Lentz’s No. 60 FGR/Hoosier/Nissan Sentra SER heading into turn 12. By the time both cars exited the corner, they were side-by-side. After contact side-by-side, Bovis tucked in behind Lentz heading into the final corner, which set up a sling shot move around Lentz up the hill to the stripe. At the line, Bovis was just inches in front of Lentz, which earned Bovis the GoPro Hero Move of the Race.
“We got a great start, and were able to focus,” Bovis said. “We had a huge gap, and I really was not happy to see that yellow flag come out to pull everybody back together. Once Kent [Prather] got around me, that was really the first time I really had to get around one guy that had a pace. That took a lot longer than I wanted it to. He’s a pretty tough competitor. Once we got around him, I figured honestly that we were going to run out of time and run out of laps. I was yelling at myself in the car, pounding the steering wheel, trying to get myself psyched up to run him down. And, we almost did.
“The difference between Bobby’s laps and my lap’s was just a matter of a few feet here and there. I was trying to figure out where I was quicker. It was just marginally quicker. The best thing I had was [Turn] 13, which is a terrible place to do anything. I’d love to tell you I had a plan, but I consciously thought going into [Turn] 3, this is just going to happen somewhere. Road America is a very important place for me. I grew up here. I’ve seen a lot of drivers run here differently. I just know sometimes here, if somebody is diving really hard into the corner, you can square the corner up, cut back, and just lengthen the straightaway up, and sometimes it works. That’s honestly the only option I had. It was the last lap and the best opportunity, and it was what it was.”
Lentz started from the Saferacer pole position and wasn't seriously challenged for the race lead until Bovis caught him on lap 11. At that point, Lentz had to drive defensively to keep Bovis behind him. On the final lap, Lentz knew he and Bovis would have a drag race to the finish coming out of turn 14.
As bad luck would have it, and for the second straight year, Lentz was beat at the line by the narrowest of margins. This year, he lost by 0.007-second. Last year, Prather beat Lentz by 0.023. In two years, Lentz has missed winning a National Championship by a total time of 0.030-second. Lentz now owns three-career Runoffs podium finishes.
“He just got a great run, a great run on me, coming out of Canada [Corner],” Lentz said. “We went through Billy Mitchell Corner side-by-side. I got back over on the outside, and it was just a drag race up the hill to the finish line.
“I was hoping I was going to win. I could see him creeping, creeping, creeping. Frankly, all I thought was, here we go again. It was exactly what happened to me last year. I just got out-motored up the hill.
“Frankly, it’s just impossible for it to sink in that it’s happened to me two years in a row. In a million years, I would have never guessed that I would have the first and second closest finishes, and to be second in both of them two years in a row. My thought after qualifying was, if I could be heads down and run my race, I should be able to win this thing.”
Sargis, a seven-time Runoffs Champion, started 12th in the No. 8 SBS Batteries/Hoosier Tire Triumph Spitfire and moved up into the top five by lap three. By lap five, he was in fourth – a position he held until the final lap when he passed Prather in Canada Corner for the final podium spot. Sargis now has 16-career Runoffs podiums.
“My plan was just to be cautious,” Sargis said. “I didn’t think I had a chance to win, and I wasn’t sure how the car was going to run. It seemed to run good today. When I got around a bunch of guys and I got around [Peter] Shadowen, I was like, oh, it can’t be too bad, because I know he is one of the top guys.
“Then the yellow came out, and I was like, uhhh. On the restart, Bobby Clark flew in front of me and got sideways in [Turn] 1, and kind of killed all of my momentum. So it took pretty much the rest of the race to catch Kent [Prather] again. I don’t know if he was having handling problems or was protecting his line too much, but he ended up going into Canada [Corner]. I took the normal line and took a good, sweeping turn. He was drifting wide through there anyway, and with the inside line, he really got wide. I got underneath him in Billy Mitchell Corner, and I think he went off in the last corner. I’m happy; it was fun.”
Sargis was the Sunoco Hard Charger after improving nine positions. He started 12th and finished third.
Bob Clark, of Glendale, Wis., finished fourth in the No. 77 JDM Group/Raglin Racing Honda CRX. Charles Leonard, of Palmetto, Fla., finished fifth in the No. 14 JB Racing/Hoosier Tire Nissan 200SX SE-R.
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.
Follow all the live timing and scoring and get results at www.scca.com/runoffs. Live Twitter stream is available @SCCALive. Follow this weekend’s races on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SCCAOfficial.
The live broadcast of all 28 National Championship races will be available through Sunday at www.SpeedcastTV.com/scca and later available On Demand from the same site.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Provisional results for Sunday’s GT-Lite 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, (5), Christopher Bovis, Lawrence, KS, Honda CRX, 13.
2, (1), Robert Lentz, Chantilly, VA, Nissan Sentra SER, 13.
3, (12), Steve Sargis, Frankfort, IL, Triumph Spitfire, 13.
4, (2), Bob Clark, Glendale, WI, Honda CRX, 13.
5, (10), Charles Leonard, Palmetto, FL, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 13.
6, (6), Kyle Disque, Philadelphia, PA, Toyota Tercel, 13.
7, (8), Brian Downey, Bristow, VA, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 13.
8, (16), Lans Stout, Cornelius, OR, Nissan Sentra, 13.
9, (9), Peter Zekert, Maryland Heights, MO, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 13.
10, (7), Jonathan Goodale, Conifer, CO, Mazda MX-5, 13.
11, (4), Kent Prather, Wakarusa, KS, Mazda Miata, 13.
12, (11), Daniel Meller, Milwaukee, WI, Toyota Tercel, 13.
13, (13), James Hargrove, Surrey, BC, Honda Civic, 13.
14, (15), Roy Lopshire Jr, Blue Springs, MO, Toyota Tercel, 13.
15, (18), Bryan Floyd, Clarion, PA, Nissan 200SX, 13.
16, (19), Robert Bax, Cincinnati, OH, Nissan Sentra, 13.
17, (14), Noel Hayward, Vallejo, CA, MG Midget, 9.
DNF, (3), Peter Shadowen, West Palm Beach, FL, Honda CRX, 3.
DNF, (17), Jamie Houseman, London, ON, Honda CRX, 3.
DNF, (20), Greg Socha, Richland, MI, Toyota Celica, 3.
Overall Time of Race: 38:16.431
Average Race Speed: 81.518 mph
Margin of Victory: 0.007 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:33.161
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 94.019 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #8 Steve Sargis
Lap Leaders: #60 – Laps 1-12, #78 – Lap 13