Defending GT-2 champion and Tire Rack Pole Award winner Andrew Aquilante, of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, only had to execute a handful of racing laps Sunday at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, to claim another GT-2 SCCA Runoffs® championships, his second in two straight years.
At the start of the 13-lap event, Aquilante stormed off in his No. 33 Phoenix Performance/Hoosier/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette and developed a nearly 4-second lead on the field by the fourth lap. However, Jonathan Start and his Dodge Viper ACR-X had an off-track excursion that brought out a lengthy full-course yellow for cleanup.
With the field bunched up for a restart on lap eight, Aquilante again moved to the front, but experienced substantial pressure from the No. 24 Periodontal Associates Ford Mustang of Brad McAllister. Then, on the exit of Turn 1, Mark Boden’s Porsche 991.2 Cup car spun to the inside and contacted the tire wall, bringing out another full-course caution.
With dedicated SCCA volunteers hustling to get the track cleaned up, the GT-2 race was able to restart for a two-lap shootout. Aquilante, again, shot off around the 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit to become the first competitor greeted by the checkered flag, thus earning his 10th Runoffs win in 22 starts.
“Things worked, and here we are,” Aquilante said of his victory. “The start, and any restart, is my biggest concern. While everyone likes to say I have the most power out there, I don’t. And as we saw on the second restart, I was planning more for Mark (Boden), not for the TA2 cars, thinking I’d have a little bit more of a buffer … but that didn’t quite go to plan.”
Behind the leader, McAllister, from Sherwood, Oregon, held off the No. 58 Innoviv/Igor/BH Construct/Valvoline M1 Race Cars TA2 vehicle of Cliff White for the second spot. This marks McAllister’s second lifetime podium appearance at the Runoffs.
“I qualified fifth after an engine fire on Monday. So, I kind of had to work myself up a little bit at the start,” McAllister noted. “On the first restart, I think we went three-abreast into the first turn. It was a little bit ‘entertaining” in the first corner. But that’s what racing’s for. Race hard and see what happens.”
White, who has a great deal of experience in the Spec Racer Ford class but was only competing in his third race in the GT-2 car, finished third for his sixth career Runoffs podium.
“At the end of the day, things worked out for us,” White said. “We didn’t get a great start at the first start. But we got a better restart, and a good second restart. So long as I kept the tires and the brakes hot, the car was not ‘off’ on any of those restarts. We knew Andrew (Aquilante) was going to check out, so I was focused on how close I could get to Brad (McAllister). And if I could get close to Brad, could I make him make a mistake. But I just didn’t have enough time to make him make a mistake.”
Rhett Barkau, of Freeport, Illinois, finished fourth in a Dodge Challenger less than a second behind White. Fifth place went to Thomas Herb, of Barrington, Illinois, in a Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup car. The Sunoco Hard Charger award went to Andrew Wright, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for starting 20th and finishing in the 11th position.
The 57th SCCA® National Championship Runoffs®, the Pinnacle of American Motorsports, 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.
Official results for Sunday's GT-2 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, (1), Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
2, (5), Brad McAllister, Sherwood, OR, Ford Mustang, 13.
3, (4), Cliff White, Huntsville, AL, M1 RACE CARS TA2, 13.
4, (6), Rhett Barkau, Freeport, IL, Dodge Challenger, 13.
5, (8), Thomas Herb, Barrington, IL, Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup, 13.
6, (10), Thomas West, Standish, ME, Chevrolet Camaro, 13.
7, (14), Jorge Nazario, San Juan, PR, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
8, (13), Oli Thordarson, Trabuco Canyon, CA, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
9, (15), Jim Valdez, Denver, , BMW E46 M3, 13.
10, (18), Timothy Gray, Minneapolis, MN, Ford Mustang, 13.
11, (20), Andrew Wright, Murfreesboro, TN, Sunbeam Tiger, 13.
12, (19), Tom Stanford, Orland Park, IL, Chevrolet Camaro, 13.
13, (2), Mark Boden, Winnetka, IL, Porsche 991.2 Cup, 7.
14, (16), Patrick Utt, Riverview, FL, Chevrolet Camaro, 7.
15, (12), Darren Dilley, Hillsboro, OR, Mazda RX-7, 7.
16, (17), Terry Gilles, Avon Lake, OH, Nissan 350Z, 7.
DNF, (3), Jonathan Start, Caledonia, MI, Dodge Viper ACR-X, 2.
DNF, (11), Pete Peterson, Lumberton, NC, Toyota Celica, 2.
DNF, (7), Tom Patton, Fairfield Twp, OH, Sunbeam Tiger, 1.
DNS, (9), Scotty B White, Auburn, WA, Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, 0.
Length of Race: 53 miles
Overall Time of Race: 46:29.236 (avg. 67.921 mph)
Margin of Victory: 05.044 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: #33 Aquilante, 2:14.279 (108.526 mph)
Lap Leaders: #33 laps 1-13
Sunoco Hard Charger: #21 Andrew Wright
Photo: 2020 Runoffs GT-2 Champion Andrew Aquilante
Photo Credit: Jay Bonvouloir