Eight hopeful drivers showed up to race for the Touring 1 championship on Friday at the 59th SCCA National Championship Runoffs taking place Sept. 24-Oct. 2 at Virginia International Raceway. The 3.27-mile, 18-turn circuit – located along the border of North Carolina in Alton, VA – saw steady rain and gusting winds as the outer edges of Hurricane Ian moved into the area during the first of three Hagerty Race Days.
Tire Rack Pole Award winner Andrew Aquilante of Chester Springs, PA, brought his No. 33 Phoenix Performance/Hoosier/Hawk/Mobil Ford Mustang to seek his 12th SCCA National Championship. Mark Boden of Buffalo Grove, IL qualified second in the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3, placing himself outside on the front row. The second row included Tim Myers of San Antonio, TX in the No. 2 G-Loc/Garages Of The Americas Dodge Viper, and local talent Joseph Gaudette of Manassas, VA in the No. 86 Over1G-Racing/Phoenix Perf/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette.
At the green flag, Aquilante grabbed the initiative and held his position, while 6th-place qualifier Sandy Satullo of Hillsboro Beach, FL charged forward in his No. 07 Crowned Eagle Racing BMW M3 to take over second place.
“We got off to a good start and I had some traction when we got to the green,” Satullo said. “I was able to get around Mark [Boden] before Turn 1. My goal was to hang on as long as I could, and that was about half a lap!”
Boden had a slower start due to the water collecting on the track surface. “Sandy had a great start,” he said. “The outside of the track had a little more puddle on it, so Sandy got by me. Then I looked in my mirror and saw a Corvette sideways in the middle of the track. I figured that would hold everyone else up, so I just went eyes-forward and looked for grip.”
The spinning Corvette belonged to fourth-place qualifier Gaudette, who dropped to the back of the field before rejoining the race. Meanwhile Boden found his way back around Satullo on the front straight and set his sights on Aquilante’s spray plume.
“I saw Mark and Andrew take off, and I thought I should just drive clean and finish the race,” Satullo said.
For the first half of the race, the battle to watch was between Gaudette, who worked his way back through the field, and Robert Korzen of Fredericksburg, VA in the No. 88 Elite Classics Ford Mustang. Under a continuous shower of spray from Korzen, Gaudette took several laps to find a way around. Gaudette would make up time in the corners, only to fall back on the straights. He got around Korzen in the 8th lap, and took up fourth position.
Meanwhile, Aquilante simply checked out and drove away, keeping his Mustang on the edge of what limited traction was available.
“I saw the green and put my foot down real gentle,” Aquilante said. “Mark [Boden] was falling back and I thought, I’m not even all the way in it! It took until about halfway through the race before the tires came in. And conditions were changing, it would lighten up and then we’d have to back off again.”
Aquilante kept up his pace, gaining distance every lap. At the checkered flag, he earned his 12th SCCA National Championship with a margin of victory of 1:53.637 over Boden. Satullo finished third, also earning the Sunoco Hard Charger award by gaining three positions during the race.
The top three were greeted at the victory podium with a bottle of bubbly form Mazza Vineyards, the “Official Sparkling Wine” of the Runoffs.
Below are provisional results for Friday’s T1 race at the 2022 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, and laps completed.
1, (1), Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA, Ford Mustang, 15.
2, (2), Mark Boden, Buffalo Grove, IL, BMW E46 M3, 15.
3, (6), S Sandy Satullo III, Hillsboro Beach, FL, BMW E92 M3, 14.
4, (4), Joseph Gaudette, Manassas, VA, Chevrolet Corvette, 14.
5, (7), Robert Korzen, Fredericksburg, VA, Ford Mustang, 14.
6, (3), Tim Myers, San Antonio, TX, Dodge Viper ACR-X, 13.
7, (8), Timothy Rubright, Kutztown, PA, Ford Mustang, 12.
8, (9), Paolo Salvatore, San Antonio, TX, Ford Mustang FP350S, 12.
DNS, (5), Hugh Stewart, Milford, CT, BMW E46 M3
DNS, (10), Joe Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA, Chevrolet Corvette
Length of Race: 49 miles
Overall Time of Race: : 35:17.785 (83.380 mph)
Margin of Victory: 113.637 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: 2:16.067 (85.516 mph)
Lap Leaders: #33, Laps 1-15
Sunoco Hard Charger: #07 S Sandy Satullo III
The 59th SCCA National Championship Runoffs, the Pinnacle of American Amateur Motorsports, crowns Sports Car Club of America’s Road Racing National Champions this year at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, VA during Hagerty Race Days, Friday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 2.
Live, online video coverage of Runoffs races, presented by Mazda, is available throughout the three days of competition at SCCA.com/live, and at SCCA’s official YouTube and Facebook social media channels. Live timing and scoring for each race is also available at SCCA.com, along with an audio-only feed from the Super Tour Radio presented by Hoosier Racing Tire broadcast team.