Lewis Runs Away with GT-1 National Championship Win at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 25, 2014) – Mike Lewis, of Poway, California, scored his eighth National Championship, and second career GT-1 Super Sweep, after winning the 52nd SCCA Runoffs Presented by Garmin VIRB at Daytona International Speedway. Jack Busch, of Torrington, Connecticut, finished second, while Stewart Bachmann, of San Antonio, Florida completed the podium.

At the controls of the No. 12 Goodyear/Pegzlist.com Jaguar XJR, Lewis was the Tire Rack polesitter and took the lead into Turn One. That was all Lewis needed to run to the checkers in GT-1 at the 3.56-mile, 12-turn Daytona International Speedway circuit. He finished the race with a 50-second gap back to second place.

“As Stewart [Bachmann] said, it was a lonely race out there,” Lewis said. “I wasn’t pushing the whole time and had backed off once I had built a good gap. Coming in, we were fast in every session and everything was running smoothly. That’s when you really begin to worry.

“Just this morning we took a hardship lap to check a gearbox rebuild, and blew the exhaust off the car. Luckily, the guys were able to get it fixed before the race. You never know in this game. Coming in, when you have a little bit of a gap, it’s just more nerve-wracking than if you are in a battle.”

Bachmann needed each of the 14 laps of the GT-1 race to run down Busch to take second place. In the No. 68 EXSYS/Eppinger/Hooseir/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Camaro SS, Bachmann ran fast laps from beginning to end, which proved to be the one of the reasons Bachmann was able to catch and pass the wounded machine of Jack Busch.

“Because of some issues on the grid, we actually started third instead of fifth,” Bachmann said. “I never have seen or talked to Michael [Lewis], so now that I’ve finished in second place I was able to shake his hand. It was your own track out there, for the most part. I was just staying consistent and hoping to be there at the end. Many thanks to my driving coach John Heinricy and all the guys that work on the car. Of course, thanks to my wife for supporting me.

“This is my first time running a sequential gearbox. We got it Thursday of last week and installed it. This is my first year of major racing, so I figured I’d take the 75-pound penalty and use the sequential box. It was a whole new learning curve, so it was a little detrimental in the beginning of the week. We were able to get faster as I got used to the new equipment.”

In the No. 105 Spectro Oils/Hoosier Tire/Leifert Moto Ford Mustang, Busch looked to have second place all sewn up. However, as Bachmann was making his way through the field, it became clear that Busch was in trouble and not just running quickly enough to secure second place. Running laps that were off the race pace, Bachmann began to take huge chucks of time from the lead of Busch. While Busch tried to pick up the pace, Bachmann was still gaining. Bachmann completed the pass just before Turn Four.

“In the latter portion of the race we ran into some issues with the gearbox,” Busch said. “So, we tried to run the rest of the race in fourth gear, which didn’t work as well as I had hoped. That was our problem. I wished I had gotten a little more of a gap between myself and Bachmann so I could have held him off there. At that point, my thought was just to try to make it to the end and what we end up with we get.”

Raymond Webb, in the No. 09 Kenco Signs Chevrolet Corvette finished fourth while Robert Monette, in the No. 135 Optech Jaguar XJR, finished fifth, following a first-lap flat tire. Raymond Webb, in the No.09 KencoSigns Chevrolet Corvette, was the Sunoco Hard Charger.

The 52nd SCCA National Championship Runoffs®, The Pinnacle of American Motorsports, will crown Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing National Champions at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, September 25 through Sunday, September 27.

The live broadcast of all 27 National Championship races is available live at SCCA.com, along with live timing and notes. Each race will be on demand at a later date.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Provisional results for Friday’s SCCA GT-1 National Championship at the 52nd SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Garmin VIRB at Daytona International Speedway, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.

1, (1), Michael Lewis, Poway, CA, Jaguar XJR, 14.
2, (6), Stewart Bachmann, San Antonio, FL, Chevrolet Camaro SS, 14.
3, (3), Jack Busch, Torrington, CT, Ford Mustang, 14.
4, (9), Raymond Webb, Holly Hill, FL, Chevrolet Corvette, 14.
5, (8), Robert Monette, Milton, GA, Jaguar XJR, 13.
6, (10), Don Noe, Arlington, TX, Ford Mustang, 6.
7, (7), Paige Alexander, Cumming, GA, Chevrolet Corvette, 2.
DNS, (2), John Heinricy, Clarkston, MI, Chevrolet Corvette, .
DNS, (4), Kyle Kelley, Huntington Beach, CA, Chevrolet Corvette, .
DNS, (5), Bernard Bupp, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Chevrolet Camaro, .
DNS, (11), David Fershtand, Fort Worth, TX, Chevrolet Corvette, .

Overall Time of Race: 26:16.009
Average Race Speed: 113.847 mph
Margin of Victory: 50.488 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: Michael Lewis, 1:47.116 (119.646 mph)
Sunoco Hard Charger: #09 Jason Webb.
Lap Leaders: Lap 1-14, Michael Lewis

Image: Mike Lewis cruised to a Runoffs victory in GT-1 at Daytona International Speedway.
Credit: Jay Bonvouloir