Mark Carpenter, of Charlotte, N.C., came from sixth on the grid to take his first F Production National Championship at the 2009 SCCA National Championship Runoffs. Defending FP Champion Rick Harris, of Derby, Kan., and Eric Prill, of Topeka, Kan., completed the podium at Road America.
Starting sixth in the No. 30 Team GGS Racing/Goodyear Acura Integra, Carpenter took advantage of a wild opening lap, advancing all the way to second as cars bumped and battled around him. Swapping positions numerous times with then-leader David Bryson, of Clemmons, N.C., Carpenter also had to hold off charges from Harris and Prill.
"The whole race has just blurred into passing and re-passing," Carpenter said. "I was right behind the incident between [Polesitter Steve] Sargis and Ruck [on the opening lap]. I don't exactly remember what happened I just know that they went three-wide into Six. I lifted and I tried to slow down without getting hit obviously and just get through. I think that's when I was second behind Bryson. I've raced against David this year and I knew we were in for a hell of a race at that point."
While leading on lap four, Carpenter ran wide in Turn 14, rejoining the lead pack in fourth and handing the lead back to Bryson's No. 89 Racesports/Goodyear/RH2-Way Mazda Miata. Carpenter made is way back to the lead by lap seven and when Bryson's car slowed to a stop with three laps remaining in the 13-lap 52-mile race, the FP title was Carpenter's for the taking.
"I don't know if there was something on the track [at Turn 14]," recalled Carpenter. "Something was on the tires or I felt like I had a tire going down because I went in there the same as I normally did. I just tried to keep it straight and get it gradually on the track without causing a hazard. As soon as I knew the tires were clean and the car was underneath me, I just put my head down and went for it.
"When Bryson fell out, it was a big relief. He definitely had me in the corners and he would have had something for me at the end. I definitely felt a little less pressure behind me, but I knew these guys [Harris and Prill] were just cookin and that they we're going to try to catch up. I tried to focus on what was through windshield and try to hit my marks and not make any mistakes."
After inheriting second from Bryson, Harris had his hands full holding off Prill. As the pair made their final trip out of Turn 14 toward the finish line, Prill pulled his No. 7 Hoosier/Prather/FIGHT-MS/ESCP Lotus Super 7 alongside Harris' No. 8 Prather Racing/Goodyear/WBRGraphics Mazda Miata. At the checkered flag, it was a photo finish, with Harris barely edging Prill for second.
Brian Linn, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., was fourth in the No. 33 Hoosier/RedLineOil/Carbotech Mazda Miata. Kevin Ruck, of Delaware, Ohio, completed the top five in his No. 73 Engineered Performance Acura Integra.
Though he did not take the checkered flag, Bryson did set the fastest lap of the race, a 2:34.051 (93.476 mph).
Christopher Patrick, of Derry, Pa., won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 10 positions during the race in the No. 19 Keystone Kustoms Triumph Spitfire.
The F Production National Championship race will air on www.speedcasttv.com/scca shortly after the conclusion of the 2009 SCCA National Championship Runoffs.