Scott Twomey’s long tow from Tacoma, Washington to the 58th running of the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway paid off on Friday with his first career gold medal in GT-Lite, escaping with a thrilling win over Chris Bovis, of Overland Park, Kansas. Michael Lewis, of Poway, California, finished third.
Twomey and Bovis went toe to toe around the 2.592-mile road course for 19 laps, with the knockout blow for Twomey’s No. 11 Poulsbo RV/Pat’s Autosport/Top Tech Nissan Tercel landing the final uppercut in the last corner of the race to pull out a 1.033 second win.
The race was a study in contrasts. Twomey was noticeably quicker from Turn 2 through Turn 6, and again from Turn 7 through Turn 13, but Bovis’ No. 78 Hart Marx Advisors/Schroth/Goodyear Honda CRX had the advantage on the straights.
“You really never know at the start of the race how it’s going to shake out,” Twomey said. “I didn’t know if Chris was going to check out and I had to get around Brian Linn so that I could get back up to Chris and to be frank, I didn’t think I’d catch up. When we started to go through the twisty stuff, I noticed that the gap would shrink a little bit, and when we got to the straight stuff it would extend just a tiny bit. But I think I was able to make up more ground than I was losing in the straightaways.”
Each time on the final two laps, Bovis took the lead going into Turn 1, but Twomey worked his way past in the long, flowing carousel that is the Turn 6 and 6a complex. The two were side by side in Turn 13 on the final lap and pushing hard, but Bovis didn’t have enough to stick the corner, slipped into the grass, and watched the win go to Twomey.
The win is a first for Twomey, who celebrates his first podium finish at the Runoffs.
“It’s a lifelong dream,” Twomey said. “I think it’s sinking in a little bit, but I don’t think I’ve got the full weight of it yet. Right now, if feels pretty wonderful to be up here and be in the middle of these guys here (Bovis and Lewis). They’re super talented and gentlemen; they are awesome race car drivers.”
Bovis grabbed his sixth podium at the Runoffs, and his second at Indianapolis Motor Speedway following a win in 2017.
“We took the wing and splitter off from Tuesday to Wednesday,” Bovis said of one visual difference in set up between his car and Twomey’s. “We picked up some top speed and we helped our understeer issue. It didn’t go away, but it got a little bit better, so we figured that was a better setup for the race. Even if we picked up some understeer in the second half of the race, at least we picked up some top speed.”
Lewis beat a prolific run of west coast drivers for the final podium spot. The 10-time champion moved around two-time champ Brian Linn and fellow 10 timer Joe Huffaker, Jr. on lap 12 for his 21st career podium finish. The podium is Lewis’ first in the GT-Lite class.
We knew early on that we weren’t going to be able to compete with these guys, so I set my sights on a podium. We’re here to race. This is Indianapolis and we’re going to run as hard as we can. That’s what we did. And I bet — with the exception of this guy (Twomey) right here because he won — I bet I had more fun. I was in a pack of four or five cars, and I got to come out on top of that battle. That was really fun and I’m glad we had that opportunity.”
Huffaker finished fourth, with Linn fifth. Jonathan Stalzer earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award, improving eight positions from his starting grid to finish 14th.
The 58th SCCA® National Championship Runoffs®, the Pinnacle of American Amateur Motorsports, crowns Sports Car Club of America’s Road Racing National Champions this year at the Racing Capital of the World—Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Indianapolis, Indiana—during the Hagerty Race Days Friday Oct. 1 through Sunday, Oct. 3.
Live, online video coverage of Runoffs races, presented by Mazda, is available throughout the three days of competition at SCCA.com/live along with an audio race call—supplied by the Super Tour Radio presented by Hoosier Racing Tire broadcast team—and live timing and scoring for each National Championship race.
Below are official results for Friday's GT-Lite race at the 58th SCCA National Championship Runoffs from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps completed.
1, (2), Scott Twomey, Tacoma, WA, Toyota Tercel, 19.
2, (1), Christopher Bovis, Overland Park, KS, Honda CRX, 19.
3, (7), Michael Lewis, Poway, CA, Mazda RX-7, 19.
4, (6), Joe Huffaker, Petaluma, CA, Nissan Sentra, 19.
5, (4), Brian Linn, Hermosa Beach, CA, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 19.
6, (5), Graham Fuller, Summit Point, WV, Honda CRX, 19.
7, (9), Paul Mevoli, Treasure Island, FL, Nissan Sentra, 19.
8, (10), Charles Leonard, Palmetto, FL, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 19.
9, (11), Kenneth Gassin, Columbus, OH, Toyota Tercel, 19.
10, (18), Jamie Blust, Johnstown, OH, Austin-Healey Sprite, 18.
11, (17), Edward Nicholson, Kansas City, MO, Nissan 200SX, 18.
12, (14), Bill Keeney, Lorena, TX, Toyota Tercel, 18.
13, (20), Rusty Bell, Galena, OH, Toyota Tercel, 18.
14, (22), Jonathan Stalzer, Plainfield, IL, Toyota Corolla, 17.
15, (12), Chris Kopley, Easton, CT, Mini Cooper, 14.
16, (3), Peter Zekert, Maryland Hts, MO, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 10.
17, (21), James Lynch III, St. Peters, MO, Mazda RX-7, 10.
18, (8), James Gregorius, Lakeville, NY, Mazda RX-7, 9.
DNF, (16), Brad Lewis, St. Louis, MO, Nissan 1200 (B110), 1.
DNF, (15), Daniel Wold, Chelsea, MI, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 0.
DNS, (13), Roy Lopshire, Blue Springs, MO, Toyota Tercel, 0.
DNS, (19), Michael Helm, Union, OH, Toyota Tercel, 0.
Length of Race: 49 miles
Overall Time of Race: 36:01.735 (82.014 mph)
Margin of Victory: 1.033 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: #11 Twomey 1:51.952 (83.350 mph)
Lap Leaders: #78 laps 1 – 13; #11 laps 14-19
Sunoco Hard Charger: #71 Jonathan Stalzer
Photo caption: Scott Twomey passes under the checkered flags to take the GT-Lite Runoffs National Championship.
Photo by Jeff Loewe
Words by Reece White