Chad Gilsinger, of Marysville, Ohio, earned the Touring 3 National Championship in the opening race of the 47th SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Subway at Road America. Kevin Fandozzi, of Saint Joseph, Minn., and Sage Marie, of Huntington Beach, Calif., completed the podium.
Gilsinger, who had finished as the runner-up on two previous occasions at the Runoffs, earned his first National Title with a 6.426sec win in the 13-lap, 52-mile race. Gilsinger averaged 88.178mph on his way to victory at the 14-turn, four-mile circuit.
Fandozzi got the jump on the field from his fourth position on the grid, leading the first seven laps while being chased by Gilsinger, Gumout polesitter Marie, and Bill Steinhoff. Gilsinger caught and passed Fandozzi, and steadily pulled way from the field for his first title in the No. 07 HPD/BFGoodrich/Alpinestars/Recaro Honda S2000.
Gilsinger turned the fastest lap of the race with a time of 2:37.275 (91.559mph).
"I was in race last year as a B car, so this was my first real shot at this," Gilsinger said. "I wasn't expecting the Nissan [of Bill Steinhoff] to go by as quick as it did, at the start. I tried to stay with them, and I knew I needed to be patient and wait through the weather. It feels good to get this win."
Fandozzi spend the latter half of the race in his No. 34 Hoosier/Carbotech/Insight Driven Chevrolet Cobalt SS being hounded by Marie's No. 4 Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Honda S2000. Marie slipped past Fandozzi at one point, but traffic from the Super Touring Under class race, running concurrently, helped Fandozzi earn his first podium finish at the Runoffs, along with the Sunoco Hard Charger for improving his position.
"This year was a similar story to last year, the Cobalts seem to race better than they qualify," Fandozzi said. "When it started to rain it helped us a little bit, but I knew from last year the rain could quit. This year, I just tried to put down as many hard laps as possible. When Chad got by me I was looking at my teammate who was off in carousel and those guys came by me. The two of them did a great job, it just meant I needed to be better."
Marie earned his first podium finish as well, losing the lead at the start and working with his teammate Gilsinger to close the early gap to Fandozzi. While Gilsinger got by and pulled ahead, Marie looked for his opening but ended up crossing the finish line behind the Chevrolet.
"It was a lot like last year," Marie said. "I put my car in the power band anticipating the green, but still got swallowed up by those big high-powered cars. The conditions were pretty dicey, it was raining then drying with lots of varying conditions. Certainly the STU cars were certainly a factor, but the BFG tires were great. This is my second runoffs, and my first podium. Starting out on pole, I had high hopes, but this is great.
Steinhoff, of Plantation, Fla., finished fourth in the No. 87 Nissan/Hoosier Nissan 350Z, 19.260sec behind Marie. John Costello, of Dallas, Pa., finished fifth after starting in the same position behind the wheel of the No. 2 RaceLabz/KingMotorsports/Hoosier/Red Line Honda S2000.
Robert Hines, Jeremy Lucas, Frank Levinson, Jim Leithauser and Chris Sarian completed the top 10.
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.