Mark Jurczyk, of Chicago, Ill., withstood a battle from Mark Boden, of Winnetka, Ill., and raced to his first SCCA National Championship during the Gumout GT-2 race on Friday at Road America. Boden recovered from a spin to finish third, behind Tom Patton, of Hamilton, Ohio.
Boden's No. 45 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup raced away from the field from the pole on the opening lap, leading by nearly three seconds the first time past the stripe. By lap five, Jurczyk had cut the lead to less than a second in his No. 21 Players Porsche GT3 Cup.
Jurczyk moved past Boden on the inside of turn five on that lap, and the two ran essentially nose-to-tail until lap 10. In turn one, Jurczyk ran wide and left the door open for Boden to move back into the lead.
The two Porsches were running an almost identical pace, but Jurczyk used the draft going into turn five and moved to the inside. Boden's defensive line kept Jurczyk from going by in that corner, but the ensuing run moved Jurczyk back into the lead.
With a lap and a half remaining and Boden looking for a way into the lead, the Fall-Line Porsche spun in turn three and into the grass, sending Jurczyk to a 4.621-second margin of victory and his first National Championship. Jurczyk, who started fourth, also earned the Sunoco Hard Charger for improving the most positions in the race.
Jurczyk turned the Hawk Fast Lap of the race in 2:17.732 (104.551 mph) – a new class record at the Runoffs - on his way to the title, leading eight laps and averaging 103.227 mph over the race distance.
“I feel fantastic,” Jurczyk said. “I just started driving and hitting my marks and hoping that [Boden] didn't run away, because he is famous for that. I was a little bit worried at the beginning, but my car was just fantastic. We had a little problem in qualifying, but my mechanic, Bart, fixed my car and it hooked up like never before on this track.
“When I passed him, I was hoping to get at least two seconds on him and I couldn't. I've raced against Mark for years and we always have great battles. I was watching my mirrors making sure he didn't try to pass me on the inside. I overshot turn one, and he went on the inside and we drove together through turn three. I tried to re-pass him for two laps, and maybe he overcooked his tires because he was sliding around a little bit.”
Patton battled early with Pete Peterson's No. 98 Goodyear/Toyota/Valvoline Toyota Celica, moving past Peterson before his day ended with a crash on lap six. Patton moved into second while Boden sat helplessly on the side of the track after his spin and earned his eighth career podium finish.
“Unlike Mark [Boden], I got swallowed up on the start but I was able to keep contact and the car was working really good,” Patton said. “It handled fantastic, the guys really had it setup. We ran the best laps we ran all week and we were really pleased. We didn't have anything for either Mark. I saw Mark [Boden] sitting there on the side, and if he would have had two more laps he would have been back by me.”
Despite his spin, Boden earned his third consecutive GT-2 podium.
“It seemed to be a good, clean start and I was just driving hard,” Boden said. “I looked back and it seemed like the next three positions were battling and I figured if I'm free of that, I'm going to run as hard as I can and get heat in the tires. I looked back again and it seemed like Mark was reeling me in really quick.
“We swapped positions a couple of times and I was just looking for the best opportunity to complete a good pass and went into three a little deep. I really had no choice, either I was going to rear end him or bail out and I decided that since we already had one of our cars with severe contact today I would jump the grenade and bail out.”
Gary Stewart, of York, Pa., put his No. 92 Apple Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup in fourth position. Bobby Lentz, of Leesburg, Va., was fifth in the No. 64 FGR Consulting/Goodyear Nissan 300ZX.