LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 24, 2005) – Niki Coello, of East Troy, Wis., captured his first National Championship Saturday, taking the Formula Continental class win at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Justin Pritchard, of Granville, Ohio, and Dave Weitzenhof, of Bath, Ohio, completed the top-three.-30-
Leading the 34-car field to the green flag, polesitter Ricardo Vassmer maintained the lead into the esses. Going two and three-wide through turn seven and eight, Coello and 2004 Champion Brian Tomassi passed Cole Morgan, to move into second and third respectively. Attacking the 2.258-mile road course, Vassmer, Coello and Tomasi quickly began to build a lead on Pritchard, as he came under pressure from Bill Jordan. Posting times marginally better than Coello, Vassmer established a one second lead by lap five. Behind the top-four, seven-time National Champion Weitzenhof began to work his way towards the front. Recovering from light contact with Shaffer at the start, Weitzenhof worked his way into fifth and closed on Pritchard. With the leaders evenly spaced apart, Tomasi slowed and pulled off-course on lap 16, promoting Pritchard and Weitzenhof to third and four respectively, as Vassmer continued to battle Coello for the lead. Having lost his lead while encountering slower traffic, Vassmer attempted to lap Bill Johnson on lap 17. Making heavy contact exiting the carousel, Vassmer retired in turn one with damage. Inheriting the lead, Coello led unchallenged to the checkered flag, capturing his first Formula Continental Championship by 2.290 seconds.
“Vassmer pulled away in the beginning, more than I would have liked,” said Coello. “He was caught in traffic and I was able to gain on him there. He did not seem to be too consistent. I tried to be smooth, my tires were good, and I waited until the opportunity came. When I caught him he made his car very wide. I tried to pass a couple times but had to back off. Then he tried a pass of a back marker in the Carousel. I don't think that the other driver saw him and they went off. I don't like to win this way but I will take it!”
Jordan, of Waterford, Mich., finished fourth, and Tim Minor, of Falls Church, Va., completed the top-five.
No. 95 Alan Guibord wins the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 10 positions, to finish 16th after starting 26th.
Now in its 42nd year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs annually crown the best amateur road racers in North America as Champions. More than 750 competitors have gathered this year to battle for 23 class titles this year, with eight races being run Friday and Saturday and seven on Sunday.
Celebrating its 61st anniversary, Sports Car Club of America is a 60,000 member motorsports organization that sanctions and promotes grassroots and professional motorsports events of a variety of disciplines, including road racing, autocrossing, road rally and rallycross.
Link Story http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=445