Brandon Dixon, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., not only captured his first-career SCCA Runoffs National Championship, but he was also the inaugural Formula 1000 winner at the 47th SCCA Runoffs Presented by Subway at Road America. The Gumout polewinner Tom Schwietz, of Winchester, Va., and Niki Coello, of East Troy, Wis., finished second and third, respectively.
Driving the No. 7 Hoosier/Citation Engineering Citation F1000/Suzuki, Dixon jumped out to the early lead and proceeded to put some distance between him the rest of the field. In fact, the only thing that slowed Dixon down was a late-race caution to remove the car of Tom Beattie, of Longwood, Fla., from the Kink.
The race restarted on lap 12 of the 13-lap race, and Dixon knew he had two former National Champions right behind him in Schwietz and Coello. Dixon also knew that if he wanted the top podium spot he would have to keep those two behind him. Dixon did just that, winning by a narrow 0.784-second over Schwietz. En route to his win, Dixon set the Formula 1000 SCCA Runoffs fast race lap record with a time of 2:07.979 (112.518 mph).
"I was disappointed [when the caution came out] because I had built up a little bit of a lead," Dixon said. "The car was working well. But, you never know what's going to happen on a restart. You just bunch everybody up. People are going to try to make moves and you can wind up with cars [going] off.
"I was very careful on the restart because the Atlantic cars in front of me were racing really hard and I did not want to get caught up in their crash and get taken out.
"This has been our goal [to win the National Championship] from the day we started construction of the car. Our explicit goal was to win the first F1000 National Championship. It was great fun."
Schwietz started from the pole in the No. 72 Steel Services Citation FB/Suzuki and got shuffled back to third at the start. But, four laps later, Schwietz passed Kyle Oberndorf, of Surrey, British, Columbia, for second and was in that spot when the caution came out. At this point, there were some Formula Atlantic cars between himself and the race leader Dixon. Schwietz hoped that he would have one last shot at Dixon when the race went green, but Dixon proved to be too strong. With his second-place finish, Schwietz recorded his eighth-career Runoffs podium.
"At the start, I had hard tires and Brandon went out on soft tires, so I knew that I was going to be slow for the first lap or two," Schwietz said about his race start. "I got nailed from someone behind me and it sent me a little bit sideways. When I got through Turn Two, the car really did not pick back up. It missed for a little bit. Then, all of a sudden, it started running clean again. We did not have a chance to catch Brandon. I think we were keeping pace with him, but we weren't really catching him. Theoretically, my tires should come in at the end of the race and his [Dixon] should go off at the end of the race. The full course caution kind of ran that [plan] askew.
"I did not really think there would be a restart. They usually pick up the leader of the race and they were shuffling cars all the way up to the last corner. Then, all of a sudden, they threw a green flag. I was caught completely flatfooted because I thought they were going to end the race under yellow. But, they went back to green, and I thought, 'I've got a chance to catch Brandon. Where is he? He's way up there.' He got bumped by a couple of Atlantics halfway through the last lap, which was the only thing I had hoped for. If they [the Atlantic drivers] had done something stupid, I wanted to make sure I was there."
Coello started third in the No. 81 RFR/Hoosier/Pouredfoundations.com Ralph Firman RFR009 and proceeded to run a fairly uneventful race by his standards. In fact, it was his first Runoffs podium finish (he has five-career podiums) that was not a win.
"The car started to understeer right away," Coello said. "So, I did everything I could to hang on. I was fourth for a while. It was a different kind of race for me because normally I'm up front or at least battling for the lead. This time, I was holding on. It was trying experience.
"I was a little scared, though, on the restart. I was trying to race Tom [Schwietz] and then we had a cluster of Atlantics coming up behind us and I thought for sure I was going to lose my head on the deal because there were cars everywhere. But, it was fun. It was a good time."
Glen Cooper, of Roswell, Ga., drove the No. 43 Hell No Kitty/RFR/Hoosier Tire Ralph Firman RFR009 to a fourth-place finish and William McLaughlin, of Mooresville, Ind., was fifth in the No. 56 McLaughlin Motorsports Ralph Firman RFR009.
David Burkett, Daniel Robinson, Oberndorf, J.R. Osborne, and Chris Waterman finished sixth through 10th, respectively.
Burkett was the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing three positions throughout the race. Burkett started ninth and finished sixth in the No. 4 The Burkett Law Firm RFR F1000.
Now in its 47th year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Subway annually crowns Champions in the Sports Car Club of America's Club Racing classes. The live broadcast of all 28 National Championship races will be available throughout the weekend at www.Speedcasttv.com/scca and later available On Demand from the same site.
Follow the action on Twitter @SCCAOfficial or the SCCA, Inc. Official Facebook page at facebook.com/sccaofficial.
More information is available at www.scca.com/runoffs.