ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Sept. 20, 2013) – In a three-week span, Andrew Aquilante of Chester Springs, Pa., went from barely having a car to drive to winning the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs® at Road America. Trent Hindman, of Ocean, N.J., finished second.
Aquilante dominated the GT2 class race at the 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America track on Friday, leading all 13 laps to earn his second career SCCA National Championship Runoffs® victory. He drove the No. 36 PhoenixPerformance/Hoosier Hawk Chevrolet Corvette.
Starting from the SafeRacer pole position, Aquilante briefly lost the lead in Turn 1 on the opening lap, slipping to third behind Hindman and Joe Koenig. But, attentive to ever-changing track conditions, he jumped back to the front moments later. He grabbed second from Hindman by Turn 3 and the lead from Koenig in Turn 5. From there, Aquilante set sail to a lead of nearly seven seconds before the only full course caution midway through the race.
On the Lap 12 restart, Aquilante said he “wanted to get into Turn 1 like there was no tomorrow, because I knew I had to clear them. Once their tires were going to come up to temperature it was going to be quite a fight.”
But that fight didn’t happen. Aquilante brought the pack to the green flag slowly before jumping to a five-car length lead over Hindman by Turn 1. By the checkered flag, Aquilante had extended his lead to 4.370 seconds over Hindman. Aquilante also earned the Go-Pro Move of the Race and set the fastest race lap of 2:16.717.
“We thought that we had the past champion provisional, so we figured we’d run GT2,” said Aquilante, who earned his first Runoffs win in 2007 in the T1 class Heartland Park in Topeka, Kan. “Really, coming into this, I didn’t know what to expect. But we figured we’d be pretty competitive.
“After qualifying on the first day, only a tenth of a second separating me and Trent, I knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Aquilante continued. “With the rain this morning, it made me really nervous until the track started drying out. Again, with our last minute sort of thing, we have experience with the Hoosier A6 tire, which we’ve run in touring classes. You’re allowed slicks in GT2. We chose not to switch to those, and in the scheme of things, it worked, because on a half-dry, half-wet track, which we’ve experienced before here, the A6 comes up to temperature.
“Hats off to Hoosier on the A6; it’s just an awesome tire,” Aquilante concluded. “And it’s a good feeling to put Phoenix Performance up top in quite a short matter. It was a three-week conversion build, and it feels good to be able to do something like that.”
While Aquilante was busy, in his words, “disappearing,” Hindman and John Kachadurian battled throughout the race for second. Hindman and Kachadurian ran nose-to-tail the entire final lap, before finishing about six tenths of a second apart at the checkered flag.
For Hindman, the Runoffs rookie came up just short in giving himself a first-place trophy as his 18th birthday present.
“Coming into the Runoffs, there’s always that aura around it,” Hindman said. “It’s the Runoffs – a lot can happen. I’m just very happy the car came home clean and that we were able to survive the race itself. I’m a little bit disappointed that we were able to bring home the win, but overall, a big congrats to Andrew. Those Phoenix guys were on it all week long, and also, a huge thanks to all the Fall-Line guys. They’ve done a great job all year. I’d love to come back to the Runoffs, maybe next year, and give a go at it.”
The third-place finish for Kachadurian, driving the No. 80 Grey Fox Racing/Fall-Line/#keepitup Porsche GT3 Cup, was a career best. His previous best finish of fourth came last year in the T2 class.
“We wanted to get a good start and play nice,” Kachadurian said. “I was able to pick up a spot on the first lap when a friend slipped off the track. From there, I knew I had a defending national champion behind me, and too fast guys in front of me. I just tried to keep my nose clean and run a good race. I thought that the yellow would help me, but I knew it was going to take something big to pick up another spot. These guys drove a great race. I’ve been looking at the back of the No. 41 car much of the season, so hats off to him for the great season. And I knew when I saw Andrew on the entry list, it was going to be a tough job to reach the top step.”
Finishing fourth was Tom Wickersham of San Ramon, Calif., who drove the No. 01 Maine Straight Racing/Michelin Porsche 996 GT3 Cup. In fifth was Mark Boden of Winnetka, Ill., in the No. 40 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup.
James Berkeley, who drove the No. 57 BMG Management/Hoosier/Pabst Chevrolet Corvette, earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award, for improving seven positions – 16th to ninth.
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, September 20 through Sunday, September 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 the SCCA Friday’s GT2 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, (2), Trent Hindman, Ocean, NJ, Porsche GT3 Cup, 13.
3, (4), John Kachadurian, Chicago, IL, Porsche GT3 Cup, 13.
4, (7), Tom Wickersham, San Ramon, CA, Porsche 996 GT3 Cup, 13.
5, (9), Mark Boden, Winnetka, IL, Porsche GT3 Cup, 13.
6, (12), Mark Pauly, Bettendorf, IA, BMW M3, 13.
7, (13), Russ Snow, Eden, NC, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
8, (8), Tom Patton, Hamilton, OH, Sunbeam Tiger, 13.
9, (16), Jason Berkeley, New York, NY, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
10, (23), Robert Kelley, Huntington Beach, CA, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 12.
11, (19), Ken Muth, Snohomish, WA, Nissan 240SX, 12.
12, (18), Jason Lee, Dover, NJ, Audi TT Coupe, 12.
13, (21), Bud Matakaetis, North Haven, CT, Nissan 240SX, 12.
14, (5), Pete Peterson, Lumberton, NC, Toyota Celica, 7.
15, (6), Jim Goughary, Houston, TX, Nissan 350Z, 7.
DNF, (10), Robert Lentz, Leesburg, VA, Nissan 300ZX, 5.
DNF, (17), Tim Gray, Eden Prairie, MN, Porsche GT3 Cup, 3.
DNF, (22), Karim Talbot, Carpentersville, IL, Chevrolet Corvette, 2.
DNF, (3), Joe Koenig, Glenview, IL, BMW M3, 0.
DNS, (11), J. Kurt Roehrig, Lexington, NC, Chevrolet Camaro.
DNS, (14), Jerry Onks, Murfreesboro, TN, Chevrolet Corvette.
DNS, (15), Pratt Cole, Salt Lake City, UT, Dodge Viper.
DNS, (20), Tim Myers, Atlanta, GA, Dodge Viper.
DNS, (24), Erich W Joiner, Torrance, CA, Porsche 997 GT3 Cup.
Overall Time of Race: 37:14.457
Average Race Speed: 83.779 mph
Margin of Victory: 4.370 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:16.717
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 105.327 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #57 James Berkeley
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-13, #36 Aquilante
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