LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 25, 2004) – Pratt Cole, of Salt Lake City, Utah, captured his third-career National Championship Saturday, winning the E Production class race at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler. Tony Rivera, of Littleton, Colo., and John Schmitt, of Sunbury, Ohio, completed the top three.
Starting from the pole position in his No. 9 Western Companies Mazda Miata, Cole led flag-to-flag, fending off second qualifier Tom Thrash, of Houston, Texas, early and Rivera in the closing stages of the race. Cole averaged 73.360 mph in his 4.001-second victory. The win is his third, also taking Championships in 1997 and 2001.
“I’d like to believe I could have checked out, but that wasn’t going to happen,” said Cole. “When the pace car came out [to remove 2003’s top two finishers Jon Brakke and Grayson Upchurch from the gravel trap in the esses], I was sad to see the lead go away. My spotters were telling me ‘two seconds’ and I was talking to them and they said ‘shut up and drive,’so I tried to do my best to do that. I knew Tony [Rivera] was coming. Fortunately I was able to maintain a pace and stay in front of the problems.”
Rivera was at the tail end of a three-car battle for second, when Dave Lemon, of Signal Hill, Calif., and Thrash came together and spun on lap 14 of 20, allowing him to move up in his Mazda RX-7. Schmitt started eighth, but stayed out of trouble to finish third in his Honda Prelude.
Bob Neal, of Harbor City, Calif., and Ken Kannard, of East Troy, Wis., completed the top five.
Now in its 41st year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs annually crown the best amateur road racers in North America Champions. More than 700 competitors have gathered this year to battle for 24 class titles this year, with eight races being run each day from Friday through Sunday.
Celebrating its 60th 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 performance rally.
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