TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 12, 2008) - David Grant, of Germantown, Tenn., earned a hard-fought National Championship in Formula Atlantic at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. Grant finished just ahead of Mirl Swan, of Platte City, Mo., and David Wilcox, of Derby, Kan., for the title.
Grant’s goal, behind the wheel of the No. 12 Hoosier Tire Swift 014/Toyota starting from the outside front row, was to beat polesitter Swan to the stripe at the green flag. With the aero package on the Formula Atlantic machine, the consensus is that it is very difficult to make a pass on Heartland Park’s 14-turns unless the lead driver makes an error.
That thinking proved prophetic. When Swan missed the start and bumped the rev limiter shifting to second gear Grant, passed him.
Swan pulled his No. 88 Swan Racing/Hoosier/Saferacer Swift 014/Toyota in behind Grant’s machine for most of the race. Swan tried a number of times to make a run on Grant, including a thrilling side-by-side race through the third, fourth and fifth turns, but couldn’t pull into the lead.
Swan settled for the runner-up position rather than make a risky move that could have jeopardized both top driver’s race and Grant finished with a 0.209-second victory.
“I’m ecstatic to win a National Championship,” Grant said. “I knew I had to get Mirl on the start, or it would have been almost impossible to get by him later. I lucked out and timed the start about as well as I could. From that point, I don’t think he lifted at all. One lap he’d be right up on my tail, and the next he’d be washed out behind me. He would shoot right up to me. With the aero, its hard to get up underneath somebody and make a pass.”
That one-position improvement from second to the lead also earned Grant the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
David Wilcox, whose No. 70 Hoosier/Toyota Swift db4/Toyota is a 20-year-old machine, recovered from a first lap off-track excursion that dropped him to sixth place to fall into line behind Grant and Swan at the finish.
Keith Grant, of Germantown, Tenn. and brother of the race winner, finished fourth. Fabio Castellani, of Streamwood, Ill., was scored in fifth at the finish.
The Formula Atlantic race will air on SPEED Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 1:00 (EST).
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 is in the third of three days of National Championship racing, Oct. 10-12. Live timing, lap notes, results and photos are all available at www.scca.com/runoffs.