Two years ago, Revere Greist, of Madison, Wis., finished third in Formula Continental at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. Last year, Greist took the next step on the podium and finished second.
This year? Greist climbed to the top of the podium to celebrate his first gold medal at the Runoffs, coming out on top in an intense, three-way battle for the lead throughout the 13-lap race at Road America ahead of second-place finisher Gerald Szykulski, of Edina, Minn. and Brian Tomasi, of Elgin, Ill. in third.
Greist started from the Gumout Pole Position in the No. 56 Waypoint Health Innovations/ArmsUp Van Diemen DP07 and led the opening three laps of the race before Szykulski worked his way to the front on Lap 4. Laps 5 and 6 saw defending Formula Continental national champion Tomasi find his way to the head of the field before Greist retook the top spot in Canada Corner (Turn 12) on Lap 7.
While Greist held the lead throughout the final half of the race, it was a tooth-and-nail battle among the top-three runners. With mirrors full of the second- and third-place cars heading into the final two turns on the last lap, Greist was forced to navigate his way through lapped traffic and the outcome was still in doubt coming up the hill on the long front straight to the checkered flag.
However, an inopportune throttle linkage problem forced Tomasi to surrender second place to Szykulski and Greist had just enough to cross the stripe 0.206 seconds ahead of Szykulski to get the victory. It was Greist's third medal in as many tries at the Runoffs.
“I think the cars were pretty evenly matched,” said Greist after a huge victory at his home racetrack. “We were all pretty even, so it was hard to get a run and make a pass stick. When I finally did get past Brian, it was into Canada Corner and he raced me really cleanly, no problem at all. We fought for it, but it was OK. I put it down into first gear – usually I do second there – to get a drive up the hill and then was able to hang onto it. It was a tough final set of laps because Brian was right there and I saw Jerry was right there, too. I was hoping Jerry was going to put pressure on Brian and distract him from me, but Brian was pretty focused on me. It was an intense finish to the race.
“I was pretty apprehensive all week. I knew we had a really good car and we'd worked on developing it. I felt like I was driving pretty well. The first time I came to Elkhart Lake was 1991, actually, so I've been doing this for a long time too. It's hard to do this. It's not easy. These guys are really good and everybody is trying to win. It's great to have some good luck, to have a good car and to win the race.”
Running as a team car to Greist, Szykulski took second in the No. 30 Rotary Systems Inc. Van Diemen DP08 to score his first medal at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. Szykulski's previous best result was fifth last year.
“It was a chess match,” Szykulski said. “It just kind of played out with strategy. I knew that none of us was able to leave the pack, so it was best to kind of just work together and race smart until the end. I had the lead for a while. I kind of went wide in Turn 3 and had to back out. I think Brian and Revere got in front of me at that point and I just kind of hung back and worked through the laps.”
Despite the late-race issue, Tomasi held on for third in the No. 96 AlligatorBoard.com/Hoosier Van Diemen RF08. It was the fifth medal-winning performance for the two-time National Champion, who also turned the Hawk Fastest Race Lap at 2:11.224 (109.736 mph).
“Going into the last few laps, I thought I would have the best shot at it,” Tomasi said. “I kept looking in my mirrors at Jerry. He kept making a run at me into (Turn) 12 and in (Turn) 1. I just broke a little bit later than him and kind of held onto it. Then with Revere, we were coming up on some lapped traffic (on the final lap) and I thought, ‘OK, we're coming up to (Turns) 13 and 14, this is it.' I had a great run through 14 and just went to mash the throttle down and that's when the linkage broke. I saw Revere going off in the distance, I looked in my mirror and weaved a little bit but Jerry went around me and that was it. It was over.”
John LaRue, of Muncie, Ind., wound up fourth in the No. 17 Goodyear/ICP/Hyperco Citation Snipe FZ, with Rick Balsley, of Naples, Fla., scoring fifth in the No. 40 ArmsUp Motorsports Van Diemen DP08.
J.R. Smart, of Fitchburg, Wis., finished sixth in the No. 9 Smart Motors/Hurricane Hannah Van Diemen RF01 and took the Sunoco Hard Charger Award after starting 10th.
Now in its 48th year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs 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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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Provisional Results from Friday's Formula Continental race, part of the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Revere Greist, Madison, WI, Van Diemen DP07, 13.
2, (3), Gerald D Szykulski, Edina, MN, Van Diemen DP08, 13.
3, (2), Brian Tomasi, Elgin, IL, Van Diemen RF08, 13.
4, (5), John LaRue, Muncie, IN, Citation Snipe FZ, 13.
5, (8), Rick Balsley, Naples, FL, Van Diemen DP08, 13.
6, (10), J.R. Smart, Fitchburg, WI, Van Diemen RF01, 13.
7, (6), Bill Johnson, Austin, TX, Van Diemen RF00, 13.
8, (11), Chuck Moran, Oakton, VA, Van Diemen RF99, 13.
9, (7), Peter LeSueur, Saint Charles, IL, Van Diemen RF02, 13.
10, (14), Michael Hummel, Round Hill, VA, Van Diemen RF06, 13.
11, (15), John Norton, Milwaukee, WI, Mygale US-99FC, 13.
12, (12), Jim Victor, Davenport, IA, Firman RFR, 13.
13, (9), Tim Walsh, Minneapolis, MN, Van Diemen RF06, 11.
14, (13), John McMurray, Saint Louis, MO, Van Diemen RF01, 10.
DNF, (4), Nicholas Coello, Dousman, WI, RFR F2000, 1.
Time of Race: 28:44.168
Winner's average speed: 108.574 mph
Fastest race lap: #96 Brian Tomasi 2:11.224 (109.736 mph)
Lap Leaders: 1-3, #56 Revere Greist, 4, #30 Gerald Szykulski, 5-6, #96 Brian Tomasi, 7-13, #56 Revere Greist.