TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 10, 2008) – Franklin Futrelle, of Augusta, Ga., led all 18 laps en route to winning his first Formula Mazda National Championship at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. Mike Anderson, of Anza, Calif., finished second, and Juan Marchand, of South Haven, Mich., was third.
Starting third in the No. 97 Meco Inc. of Augusta Star Formula Mazda, Futrelle made an aggressive move at the start going three-wide into Turn One and made it stick. From there, Futrelle spent the early part of the race trying to keep the polesitter Jamie Sloan, in the No. 6 sloneracing.com GoPro/Molecule machine, behind him. But, on lap 13, Sloan spun and dropped a spot. This allowed Anderson to take over second-place, which put him more than six seconds behind Futrelle.
“Mike [Anderson] and Jamie [Slone] both had a couple of tenths on me all week,” Futrelle said. “The crew and I talked, and we knew I was going to have to get it done in the beginning. I saw Jamie was concentrating on Mike a lot at the start and he just left the door open. I had to take advantage of it.
“Mike and Jamie were really fast in the slow stuff. I think I had a little more downforce than them in the high-speed. It was really nerve-wracking, because I’d get a couple seconds in the high-speed stuff and they’d catch right back up in the low-speed areas. I had to concentrate on putting in consistent laps. I knew we were all so close in qualifying, so I knew whoever had the lead after the first lap would probably win if they could run consistent laps throughout the race.”
After the Sloan spin, Futrelle was never seriously challenged again winning by 7.071-seconds over Anderson. Futrelle turned the race’s fastest lap with a 1:33.290. Thanks to his win today, Futrelle captured the Chicago Region SCCA Triple Crown.
Anderson, who started second in the No. 42 HASA Pool Products Star Formula Mazda, dropped a spot at the race start because Futrelle passed him on the outside heading into the first corner. Anderson spent the first 13 laps right behind Slone, just waiting for his opportunity to pass him. But, instead of passing Slone, Anderson had to avoid hitting him when Slone spun. Now in second place, Anderson tried to catch the race leader, but Futrelle’s lead was insurmountable.
“We had a pretty amazing start there,” Anderson said. “Franklin [Futrelle] got an amazing run on us. I was on the outside in Turn One, so I lost a little ground trying to tuck in behind everybody. I made it back up and started pressuring Jamie [Slone]. When we caught some lapped traffic, Jamie lost it and I had to bring the car pretty much to a stop to avoid getting my front wing taken off. I lost a lot of ground to Franklin, and at that point we had about five laps to go, so I pushed as hard as I could hoping he’d make a mistake, but he didn’t put a wheel wrong and drove a great race.”
Driving the No. 45 JRM Dynojet@GingerMan Star Formula Mazda, Marchand was the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing four positions throughout the race. He started seventh and finished third. Though Marchand finished third, the eventual fourth-place finisher, Russell Lindemann, of Longmont, Colo., did not make it easy for him. In the final laps, Lindemann made several attempts to pass Marchand but Marchand was able to hold him off. Matthew Pombo, of Duluth, Ga., finished fifth.
The SCCA National Championship Runoffs® The Pinnacle of American Motorsports, will crown Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing National Champions for the 45th-consecutive year in 2008. The best amateur drivers from across North America will compete on Heartland Park Topeka’s 2.5-mile road course in what is considered the “Olympics” of motorsports. This year’s event began with four days of qualifying, Oct. 6-9, and has now commenced three days of National Championship racing, Oct. 10-12.
Attached image: Formula Mazda National Champion Franklin Futrelle.
Credit: John Steflik