TOPEKA, Kan. (October 10, 2008) - Jim Goughary, of Houston, Texas, grabbed the lead at the start of Friday’s GT-2 race at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka and never looked back, cruising to a 1.518-second victory. Polesitter John Black, of Olympic Valley, Calif., and Wayland Joe, of South Barrington, Ill., joined Goughary on the podium.
Goughary, driving the No. 46 RedLine Oil Nissan 350Z, raced past Black’s No. 17 Nissan 350Z into the first turn from the outside of the front row and immediately began to pull away from the field.
“The cars are a little bit different,” Goughary said of the two Nissans. “We have a bigger engine with more torque, and John’s car is a little bit lighter. I figured we’d get him at the start, I just didn’t know what would happen after the first lap.”
Goughary did hold the lead after the first lap, and continued to grow the gap whenever possible. Despite the 1.518-second margin of victory and the relatively few assaults on the lead, the finish could have been much closer.
“I had a little bit of understeer dialed into the car, and the front tires were starting to go off a little bit,” Goughary said. “When I had a gap on John, I tried to cool it a little bit just save the front tires, and he caught right back up. I think it was two laps from the end, I went off over the curb in the fast esses, just because they had gone away. So it was a tough race.”
Black made one big push to catch Goughary near the midpoint of the race, but just didn’t have enough to get around him.
“I caught Jim a couple of times in Turn 3, and there wasn’t anything I could do really,” Black said. “Last year, I had a mishap on the first lap going into Turn 5 and I thought twice about doing it, but I wasn’t going to end it like that this year. It was pretty much all I had. You’re just trying to wheel the heck out of the car, trying to make it do something that just isn’t there. I didn’t have it under me. I was trying to push the car to something that wasn’t there, and by the finish the tires were gone.”
Defending two-time champion Wayland Joe made his first SCCA start this season, but wanted to return to Heartland Park to defend his title. With that in mind, the podium finish in the No. 1 Soakworld.com/NGT Motorsport Porsche 996 capped a successful week for Joe.
Mark Jurczyk, of Chicago, Ill., and Jim Walsh, of Redmond, Wash., completed the top five in GT-2. Andrew Foley, of Portland, Oregon, gained four positions to 11th place to earn the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
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.