Ric Bushey, of Virginia Beach, Va., captured his first-career SCCA National Championship Saturday, winning the Sunoco GT-3 Challenge at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Mike Henderson, of El Cajon, Calif., and John Black, of Olympic Valley, Calif., completed the top three.
After qualifying his No. 30 Abacus Racing/Goodyear/Nissan 350Z on the pole, Bushey quickly dropped behind the Mazdas of second- and third-starting Henderson and Rob Warkocki at the beginning of the race. Henderson led initially in the No. 12 Mazda RX-7 before Warkocki took the point in Turn 12 on the opening lap with his No. 78 Empcor/Goodyear/Mazda/Red Line Mazda RX-7.
Warkocki led the opening two laps before Bushey made his way past entering the Carousel. From there, he gradually pulled away to take a 4.261-second victory in the 13-lap, 52-mile race, averaging 98.828 mph.
"I think I'm going to wake up tomorrow and ask someone to pinch me, because I think it's all a dream," Bushey said of his National Championship. "I said that after that qualifying run, because my time was so unexpected. I said I was going to wake up tomorrow and feel like this was one of those motorsports dreams. I have a feeling I'm going to have that same surreal feeling tomorrow, as well.
"Every lap I'd check my mirrors coming out of Five to make sure I gapped out enough that they couldn't catch me coming down the straight, and that was my race strategy. It paid off."
Henderson fell to third, but eventually worked back past Warkocki into second place. At one point, he held the fastest lap of the race honor, while working away at Bushey's lead, but he could not overcome the gap. It was Henderson's first-career podium finish at the Runoffs.
Black started fourth in his No. 17 Nissan 350Z and battled for much of the race with Warkocki before he finally was able to sneak by under braking in Turn 12 on the penultimate lap. Black turned the fastest lap of the race, with a 2:23.797 (100.141 mph).
Warkocki, of Frankfort, Ill., finished fourth, ahead of Jimmy Burke, of Suwanee, Ga., in his No. 3 PFM Engineering/Goodyear/Moton Nissan 350Z.
Paul Young, of Commerce Township, Mich., advanced four positions in the race to earn the Sunoco Hard Charger in his No. 79 Young Racing/Hoosier Tire Ford Proble.
The Sunoco GT-3 National Championship race will be available on demand at www.speedcasttv.com/scca shortly after the conclusion of the 2009 SCCA National Championship Runoffs.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Provisional results from Saturday's GT-3 National Championship Race, part of the 46th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Ric Bushey, Virginia Beach, VA, Nissan 350Z, 13.
2, (2), Mike Henderson, El Cajon, CA, Mazda RX-7, 13.
3, (4), John Black, Olympic Valley, CA, Nissan 350Z, 13.
4, (3), Robert Warkocki, Frankfort, IL, Mazda RX-7, 13.
5, (5), James Burke, Suwanee, GA, Nissan 350Z, 13.
6, (6), Michael Cyphert, Cleveland, OH, Toyota Celica, 13.
7, (10), Wolfgang Maike, Santa Barbara, CA, Toyota Paseo, 13.
8, (7), Jeffrey Dernehl, Woodstock, GA, Mazda RX-7, 13.
9, (9), Milton Grant, Germantown, TN, Toyota Celica, 13.
10, (14), Paul Young, Commerce Township, MI, Ford Probe, 13.
11, (12), Kerry Bonner, Katy, TX, Ford Probe, 13.
12, (11), Kenneth Shreve, Sammamish, WA, Mazda RX-7, 13.
13, (15), David Pettigrew, Monroe, CT, Mazda RX-7, 12.
14, (17), Kenford Nelson, Novi, MI, Dodge Daytona, 12.
15, (19), Jim Duea, Yukon, OK, Mazda 626, 12.
16, (16), Wayne Quick, Dunn, NC, Ford Probe, 8.
DNF, (8), Pete Peterson, Lumberton, NC, Toyota Celica, 4.
DNF, (18), Robert Herman, Cairo, NE, Mazda RX-7, 2.
DNF, (13), George Cichon, Rockton, IL, Mazda RX-7, 1.
Time of Race: 31 minutes, 34.209 seconds
Margin of Victory: 4.261 seconds
Winner's average speed: 98.828 mph
Fastest race lap: #17 John Black, 2:23.797 (100.141 mph)
Lap leaders: Laps 1-2, Rob Warkocki; laps 3-13, Ric Bushey
Sunoco Hard Charger: #79 Paul Young
Attached: Ric Bushey leading the field at Road America
Credit: Mark Weber