TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 12, 2007) – John Heinricy, of Royal Oak, Mich., captured his 11th Sports Car Club of America National Championship today, his first in Showroom Stock C, at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by AT&T at Heartland Park Topeka. Joel Lipperini, of Pittston, Pa., and Joe McClughan, of New Braunfels, Texas, completed the top three.
Driving the No. 32 Phoenix Performance/Hoosier Chevrolet Cobalt SS, Heinricy started second and moved past early leader and polesitter Lipperini on lap eight. Heinricy’s run to his 11th title was not easy, though, as Lipperini’s No. 81 Hankook Tire/RaceShopper.com Honda Civic Si attacked him for the duration of the 18-lap, 45-mile race around the 2.5-mile circuit.
On the race’s final lap, Lipperini slid wide in turn nine giving Heinricy a small gap. Two corners later, Heinricy clipped the inside of the curb and went up on two wheels, allowing Lipperini to gain back some ground. In the end, Heinricy’s Cobalt beat Lipperini’s Honda to the finish by 0.922-second.
“It was a great run,” Heinricy said. “We had the Chevy Cobalt set up great for the race. The whole team did a really good job. All I had to do was the driver stuff when I got in, but boy, did Joel and Joe make me do it!
“I have trouble even remembering where I made the pass for the lead. I made an earlier pass, I think Joel got a bit wide in 12, but he got back past me into 14. Then, a few laps later, I got a great run out onto the front straightaway and was able to get enough of a run into the first turn. Then it was a matter of keeping it, but that was hard.”
Heinricy now has 11 National Championships in 14 attempts, with a record career winning percentage of 78 percent.
“This win ranks up at the top with just one or two others because it was such a close and hard fought win. Tight racing, close wheel to wheel, and tight racing all the way.”
McClughan admitted that he backed off a bit after being a part of the lead battle for the first eight laps in his No. 36 Mazdas/Hankook Tires/Mazdaspeed MAZDA3 to try to make a run at the finish. However, he was never able to close the gap.
Ali Naimi, of San Jose, Calif., and Luke Russell, of Fort Myers, Fla., completed the top five.
John Saucier, of Oklahoma City, Okla., earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award for advancing four positions during the race.
The SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by AT&T, The Pinnacle of American Motorsports, will crown Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing National Champions for the 44th-consecutive year in 2007. The best amateur drivers from across North America convene on Heartland Park Topeka’s 2.5-mile road course each fall in what is considered the “Olympics” of motorsports. This year’s event begins with four days of qualifying, Oct. 8-11, and concludes with three days of racing, Oct. 12-14.