Three days of SCCA National Championship racing began Friday morning when Tire Rack Pole Award winner Andrew Aquilante led the Touring 1 (T1) field to the green flag in his No. 33 Phoenix Performance/Hoosier/Hawk Ford Mustang. Alongside him, starting second, was defending T1 Runoffs Champion Mark Boden in his No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW E92 M3 car.
Aquilante had to swap out motors after qualifying Thursday, and suspected he was a little low on horsepower, but still managed to hold off Boden going into Turn 1 to assume the lead. Over the next couple laps, Aquilante and Boden set off together to establish a six-second lead on Thomas Herb sitting second in his No. 144 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW E92 M3 vehicle.
For half the race, Boden — who actually wrecked his T1 car earlier in the week during testing — took several opportunities to show the nose of his car to Aquilante around Road America’s 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit. Then on lap seven of 13, Boden dived to the inside of Aquilante going into the Turn 8 left-hander and ended up putting the left-side of his car on the grass. While the move may have seemed overly optimistic, it was actually a contact-avoidance maneuver.
“That was not designed to be a move. That was ‘oh my god, I’m going to hit him,’” Boden joked afterwards. “We had some brake issues in testing and made some changes. With that, we needed to pump the brakes up more aggressively. And if we forget to do that, the brakes don’t work very well.”
After that, Aquilante scampered away a bit only to be reeled back in by Boden. Then on lap 10, Aquilante’s car went off in the Carousel and Boden, of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, moved to the lead and went on to claim the T1 victory and his third Runoffs championship.
“It was pretty obvious that Andrew (Aquilante) had a hurt motor. I was just kind of waiting for my time,” Boden said after the race. “But I’m so proud to do this at my home track. We love this place.”
Herb, of Barrington, Illinois, claimed the runner-up spot 25 seconds behind Boden, but seven seconds ahead of the third-place finisher. For Herb, this marks his first podium finish at the Runoffs.
“This is really amazing. I’m just thrilled beyond belief to be standing on the podium,” Herb said.
Behind Herb, a fight for the final podium step was raging between the No. 34 Candelaria Racing Products Chevrolet Corvette of James Candelaria and the BMW E46 M3 of Hugh Stewart. At the finish, Candelaria, of Boca Raton, Florida, edged out Stewart, of Milford, Connecticut, by under a second for his first podium appearance at the Runoffs.
“I came here with a mission to podium at the Runoffs,” Candelaria said. “I thought it was out of reach, but I put my head down … and we managed to do it.”
Bill Baten, of Carmel, Indiana, finished fifth. The Sunoco Hard Charger award went to Timothy Rubright, of Kutztown, Pennsylvania, who started 11th and finished in the seventh.
The 57th SCCA National Championship Runoffs crowns Sports Car Club of America’s Road Racing National Champions this year at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin’s Road America, Friday, Oct. 9 through Sunday, Oct 11.
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.
Provisional results for Friday’s Touring 1 race at the 57th SCCA National Championship Runoffs from Road America, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps completed.
1, (2), Mark Boden, Buffalo Grove, IL, BMW E92 M3, 13.
2, (4), Thomas Herb, Barrington, IL, BMW E92 M3, 13.
3, (5), James Candelaria, Boca Raton, FL, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
4, (7), Hugh Stewart, Milford, CT, BMW E46 M3, 13.
5, (6), Bill Baten, Carmel, IN, Chevrolet Camaro Z28, 13.
6, (11), Timothy Rubright, Kutztown, PA, Ford Mustang, 13.
7, (8), Michael Pettiford, Louisville, CO, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
8, (12), Joe Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
9, (13), Christina Lam, Springfield, VA, BMW E46 M3, 13.
10, (14), Joe Boden, Winnetka, IL, Porsche 997, 13.
11, (15), Don Van Nortwick, San Jose, CA, Ford Mustang FP350S, 13.
12, (1), Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA, Ford Mustang, 9.
13, (9), Paolo Salvatore, San Antonio, TX, Ford Mustang FP350S, 9.
DNF, (3), Tim Myers, San Antonio, TX, Dodge Viper ACR-X, 1.
DNS, (10), Clark Nunes, San Jose, CA, Chevrolet Camaro, 0.
Length of Race: 53 miles
Overall Time of Race: 30:37.709 (avg. 103.088 mph)
Margin of Victory: 25.524 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: #46 Boden, 2:18.701 (105.066 mph)
Lap Leaders: #33 laps 1-9, #46 laps 10-13
Sunoco Hard Charger: No. 7 Timothy Rubright