SONOMA, California (October 19, 2018) – Troy Ermish, of Tracy, California, won from pole in the GT-Lite (GTL) class during the 55th SCCA® National Championship Runoffs® at Sonoma Raceway.
Ermish’s weekend didn’t start as well as it finished. A qualifying crash put him behind the eight ball with a car in need of serious repairs. Fellow competitor and odds-on favorite Joe Huffaker offered Ermish the use of his shop, but Ermish instead drove to his home shop to put the car back together.
After an all-nighter, Ermish -- in the No.38 LSEnergy/Rebello Racing/Troy Ermish Nissan PL510 -- put his car on pole less than .1 seconds in front of Huffaker. “I don’t know where my qualifying lap came from because the best I’d ever tested here was a 1:48.8 and somehow I picked up another second.”
After Huffaker retired early in the race Friday, Ermish took the lead and never looked back. “It’s hard to explain when you have the drive. My whole life I’ve wanted to be a professional driver and this is as close as it gets.”
Joe Harlan, in the No. 80 Top Tech Motorsports/Nissan/Hoosier Nissan 240-SX, battled through a spin and late-race challenge from Jonathan Goodale to bring home his vessel in second place. Though Harlan has engineered for other drivers at Sonoma, he drove his first laps in June. He describes Sonoma as, “the hardest track I’ve ever driven. My game was to take it easy and keep my tires and brakes under me.”
In trying to pass Peter Zekert in Turn 4, Harlan realized he didn’t have the room needed. “Peter’s a really good friend and I really didn’t want to turn him around, so I spun the car.” Harlan managed to stay ahead of Jonathan Goodale without losing any positions and close the race out in second place after Zekert retired.
Jonathan Goodale didn’t make it easy for Harlan, challenging him for the remainder of the race. Goodale, piloting the No. 4 MazdaSpeed/Hoosier/Hawk/Summit Mazda MX-5, eventually finished half-a-second behind Harlan for third place, his second Runoffs podium. To get to Sonoma, Goodale battled through an entire summer of mechanical setbacks, most of which were resolved through the help of fellow competitors. “It’s been a comedy of errors, but that’s what this is. It’s you and your friends doing the best you can.”
Chris Kopley finished fourth in his No. 03 AER Mini Cooper. After starting 15th, Canadian Bill Okell finished fifth in his No. 5 Huffaker Eng./Castrol Oil Austin-Healey Sprite and earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award.
The 55th SCCA® National Championship Runoffs®, the Pinnacle of American Motorsports, crowns Sports Car Club of America’s Road Racing National Champions this year at Sonoma Raceway in California Friday, Oct. 19 through Sunday, Oct 21.
Live, online video coverage of Runoffs races, presented by Mazda, is available throughout the three days of competition at SCCA.com/live. An audio race call, supplied by the Super Tour Radio broadcast team, is also available at www.SCCA.com/live , as well as live timing and scoring for each National Championship race.
SONOMA, Calif. -- Provisional results for Friday’s GT-Lite race at the 55th SCCA National Championship Runoffs from Sonoma Raceway, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps completed.
1, (1), Troy Ermish, Tracy, CA, Nissan PL510, 20.
2, (5), Joe Harlan, Oregon City, OR, Nissan 240-SX, 20.
3, (6), Jonathan Goodale, Conifer, CO, Mazda MX-5, 20.
4, (10), Chris Kopley, Bridgeport, CT, Mini Cooper, 20.
5, (15), Bill Okell, Victoria, BC, Austin-Healey Sprite, 20.
6, (11), Bill Meyer, Russellville, MO, Toyota Tercel, 20.
7, (7), Charles Leonard, Palmetto, FL, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 20.
8, (16), Scott Twomey, Tacoma, WA, Toyota MR2, 19.
9, (17), Paul Bunbury, Whistler, BC, Honda Civic Coupe, 19.
10, (19), Larry Svaton, Alvin, TX, Mazda Miata, 18.
11, (4), Peter Zekert, Maryland Heights, MO, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 17.
12, (14), Tim Linerud, Belmont, CA, Volkswagen Rabbit, 13.
13, (8), Roy Lopshire, Blue Springs, MO, Toyota Tercel, 8.
14, (20), Ted Phenix, Hawkesbury, ON, Mini Cooper, 7.
15, (9), Chris Doodson, Surrey, BC, Honda CRX, 6.
16, (13), Lans Stout, Cornelius, OR, Nissan Sentra SE-R, 6.
17, (12), Craig Carter, Long Beach, CA, Nissan Sentra, 5.
18, (3), Taz Harvey, Danville, CA, Mazda Miata, 4.
19, (18), Bill Blust, Bailey, CO, MG Midget, 3.
20, (2), Joe Huffaker, Petaluma, CA, MG Midget, 1.
Length of Race: 50 Miles
Overall Time of Race: 37:39.760 (avg. 80.292 mph)
Margin of Victory: 35.855 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: 1:49.458 (82.881 mph)
Lap Leaders: #38 laps 1-20
Sunoco Hard Charger: #5 Bill Okell
Photo: Troy Ermish took his first every GTL Runoffs win at Sonoma Raceway
Credit: Mark Weber