Grand wins Black Magic Touring 2 National Championship
Marty Grand, of Manassas Park, Va., won the Black Magic Touring 2 race during the 47th SCCA Runoffs Presented by Subway at Road America. Cooper MacNeil, of Hinsdale, Ill., and Mark Boden, of Winnetka, Ill., completed the podium.
Grand started second in the No. 4 AMS Performance/TRE/Switchback/JRZ Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and got a great jump to take the early lead into Turn One. But, Grand immediately found the No. 2 BimmerHaus/Hoosier/Deadfast Racing BMW Z4 M Coupe of Jason Ott, of Thorton, Colo., filling his mirrors. Ott's BMW shadowed every move Grand's Mitsubishi made for the first four laps. In fact, Ott made contact with Grand's rear bumper coming out of Turn 12.
Grand thought he had lost his brakes heading into the corner and had to slow down. That's when the contact occurred. With Grand's bumper was now loose and dragging, Ott took advantage of Grand's new aero package and passed him on the next lap coming down the front straight.
"The start went just as I thought," Grand said. "The car has a lot of torque, and I hoped I could get a good run on Andy [Wolverton] and that worked out. Jason [Ott] was soon behind me, and he's got a lot of top end. I tried to get away from him so he couldn't use his top end advantage to run me down.
"Everything was going well until I came into Canada Corner and lost all brakes. I made two quick downshifts to stop and not go off into the sand. Before I got back to third, Jason was in the back of me. I hoped I still had brakes left for the race, so I just jumped on his tail and found out I did have brakes. I just had to pump them constantly. I just tucked in behind Jason. There are parts where he had the advantage and parts where I did. I tried to go fast where I had the advantage and basically not overdrive my car where I didn't.
Now in the lead, Ott did what he could to put a gap between himself and Grand. But, Grand knew if he wanted a shot at winning he had to stay within striking distance. Just as Grand's bumper finally came off his Mitsubishi, Ott's tires began to go away. This combination allowed Grand to catch and pass Ott in Turn Two (on lap eight) for the lead, a position Grand would not relinquish. He won by 7.400-seconds to earn his first National Championship, while Ott finished fourth. Additionally, Grand set a new Black Magic Touring 2 SCCA Runoffs fast race lap record with a time of 2:30.298 (95.810 mph).
"I didn't have to battle anybody, so I could run a nice, clean line and that's why I could go faster later in the race. At one point, I could feel the bumper dragging down the straights, but once it fell off I was fine.
"It means a lot. I was on the pole last year and led some laps and three laps from the finish my car broke. So, this has been a long, long off-season waiting to get back here. This is actually better than it would have been last year after everything I went through. It's just awesome. [This was] my dream since I was Cooper's [MacNeil's] age to one day race and win a National Championship."
Driving the No. 76 WeatherTech.com BMW M3, MacNeil showed that patience, smart driving and some late race passes can earn one a podium finish. MacNeil started eighth, but hung just behind the race leaders as they mixed it up upfront.
Late in the race, MacNeil made his move. He was fifth with two laps to go and inherited fourth-place when five-time Runoffs Champion Don Knowles bounced off the wall in the Kink.
On the penultimate lap, MacNeil passed Ott in Turn Two for third place, a position these two drivers swapped throughout that lap. On the final lap, MacNeil was third and had Boden just in front of him. MacNeil completed the pass with a few corners to go to finish second.
"I hung back and only drove as fast as I had to drive to stay with those guys," MacNeil said. "I was watching them battle, and they were using up tires and brakes and everything. I was hanging back, conserving, and so I had something for Mark [Boden] at the end. I started picking off cars through the field. I came out of [Turn] Three behind Mark, and got a good run through five and it was perfect."
Boden, last year's GT2 National Champion, started fourth in his No. 45 Fall-line Motorsports BMW M3 and kept it in the top five all race long. Early on, Boden dropped to fifth. From there, he had to fight for every position he earned. By lap 12, of the 13-lap race, he was second and was poised to finish in that position, but MacNeil had other plans. While Boden watched the battle between MacNeil and Ott in his mirrors for third, Boden quickly realized that he had his hands full himself with MacNeil. MacNeil passed Boden for second, and, when that happed, Boden had to settle for third.
"I battled Don Knowles for a while, and then Jason [Ott] for a while, and then Marty," Boden said of his race. "I had a lot of battles going on. They all drove a great race. I was sorry to see cars break or the crashes, as Don [Knowles] did. I could see that Jason's rear tires were starting to give up on him and took advantage of that then opened up a gap.
"It was a bit of a surprise [when MacNeil went by for second]. He came up quick and got me. I think he had a little bit more car. Obviously, he was fast coming up that quick from eighth to a battle for second."
David Brand, of Muttontown, N.Y., drove the No. 38 BGB/Esqs/KrugSpeedRacing/LotusSpt Lotus Exige to a fifth-place finish.
Jay Petel, Patrick Womack, Joe Koenig, Kristopher Von Syndow, and Timothy Hund finished sixth through 10th, respectively.
Von Syndow was the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing nine positions throughout the race. Von Syndow started 18th and finished ninth in the No. 00 VS Motorsports/Von Sydows Moving BMW M3.
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.
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More information is available at www.scca.com/runoffs.