TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 12, 2008) – Runoffs Rookie Rick Harris, of Derby, Kan., held off a hard-charging Steve Sargis, of Frankfort, Ill., by 0.483-second to capture his first F Production National Championship at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. Joe Walker, of Richland, Mich., finished third.
Harris started on the outside of the front row in the No. 8 Prather Racing/WBR Graphics and spent the early part of the race trying to gain back the two spots he lost on the start. With the help of some attrition, Harris moved up to third when Brian Linn in the No. 21 Hoosier Tires/RedLine Oil/CWH MG Midget spun in Turn 10. Harris then moved up to second when the right front suspension broke on polesitter Eric Prill’s, of Topeka, Kan., No. 7 Fight-MS/Hoosier/Prather Racing/ESCP Lotus Super 7. On lap 11, Harris capitalized again when then race leader Sargis spun his No. 18 SBS Batteries/Goodyear Tire Triumph Spitfire in Turn 14.
“Going through Turns One, Two and Three, I got hit three times on the right side,” Harris said. “Of course that is a little unsettling. But, I was in the middle of the race. I just held it together. I got a lot of counsel throughout the week on how I should do this race. I was just patient.
“I knew I was back in fourth place at that point. It took about two laps for me to be on Brian’s [Linn] back wheel and he spun in front of me. Then I caught up to Eric [Prill] and were ‘freight training’ for a while. Then Eric had a problem with his car. I think the suspension broke on his car. I really did not know if I could run down Steve. I got up close to him and then he spun in 14. I did a hard brake check and went around him. With two laps to go, Steve got down inside of me going into one. I left him enough room, but it was the last lap and I was not going to give it to him. I probably pinched him a bit coming out of two and then just held on.”
When Sargis spun on lap 11, he dropped to third. Undaunted by his spin, Sargis put his head down and passed Walker in the No. 5 Walker Racing Lotus Super 7 two laps later. At this point, Sargis was in second and was more than seven seconds behind race leader Harris. Over the final four laps, Sargis cut the lead down to under a second and even tried to take the race lead on the final lap. But, in the end, Harris proved to be too much for Sargis.
Walker did not get off to a good start. He dropped two positions at the start. But, much like Harris, he also benefitted from race attrition and moved up to third when Prill went out.
Mark Carpenter, of Burlington, Conn., finished fourth in the No. 38 Ream GGS Racing/Goodyear Acura Integra. Peter Morton, of Milford, Mich., put on an impressive drive. He started 10th in the No. 4 Creative Threads/Goodyear/DME Lotus Super 7 and finished fifth. Mike Halbrook, of Coppell, Texas, was the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing nine positions throughout the race.
The F Production race will air at noon (EST) Wednesday, Feb. 4 on SPEED.
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 now concluding three days of National Championship racing, Oct. 10-12. Live timing, lap notes, results and photos are all available at www.scca.com/runoffs.