TOPEKA, Kan. (October 12, 2007) – John Fergus, of Powell, Ohio, captured his fifth Sports 2000 SCCA National Championship with a last lap pass on Nick Mancuso, of Libertyville, Ill., at the 2007 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by AT&T at Heartland Park Topeka. Mancuso would go on to finish third, behind Marc Mercer, of Aurora, Colo.
Starting second, Fergus took the lead from polesitter Mercer on the start and led the first three laps in his No. 0 Carbir CS-2, with the No. 06 Lola 91/90 of Mercer and the No. 61 Lola T90190 of Mancuso in tow. Fergus relinquished the lead to Mercer on lap four with a spin going into Turn 10.
“Mark bobbled at the start and I was able to get by,” Fergus said. “I thought that this was going to work out just fine. I got this big lead and then I made a mistake going into the chicane. I went wide and out into the grass and Mark got by. Then, a few laps later, I screwed up going into two and Nick got a flyer and got by me.”
Once in the lead Mercer was able to open up a 3.308-second lead by lap 13. Then, it was Mercer’s turn to make a mistake, spinning and relinquishing the lead to first-time Runoffs competitor Mancuso, followed two laps later by Fergus.
On the white-flag lap, the three entered the final corners in a tight pack. Contact between the nose of Fergus and the bumper of Mancuso sent the No. 61 into a spin in Turn 14.
“We came into the last lap and were real close,” Fergus said. “I was as surprised as Nick was, but my tapes will show and so will my data that I was at the same speed in the corner as I had been. I don’t know what happened, but we were out of the turn past the apex when he just slowed. Then pop, we got together; I just can’t explain it, it just happened. It was an unfortunate end to what had been a fabulous race.”
Fergus recovered to take his fifth S2000 National Championship, while Mercer, who took evasive action to avoid the incident ahead of him, was able to come home second. Mancuso got it straightened out quick enough to cross the finish line in third. Michael Bautz, of Machesney Park, Ill., and Jay Messenger, of Muleshoe, Texas, finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Rick Johnson, of Bend, Ore., was the Sunoco Hard Charger, advancing four positions during the race.