TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 13, 2006) – Don Knowles, of Pittsboro, N.C., won back-to-back Showroom Stock B National Championships in 1978 and 1979 and today – 27 years later – he won his third SSB National Championship at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kansas, As Big As You Think. Chad Gilslinger, of Maryville, Ohio, and Toby Grahovec, of Chicago, completed the top three.-30-
Piloting the No. 35 iRacing.com/Phoenix Pontiac Solstice, Knowles grabbed the early lead from polesitter Andrew Aquilante, of Chester Springs, Pa., in Turn One and never looked back winning by an impressive 27.381-seconds over second-place finisher Gilsinger, at an average speed of 72.884 mph.
“First qualifying was extremely difficult, but every day the track seemed to get better and better,” Knowles said of his preparation for the race. “We kept working on the car and kept going faster. Luckily we ended up on the front row. This was good because we knew that on straight line acceleration we were not the fastest. We knew that if we were on the front row, we would have a good chance to be in first by turn one or at least come close and that is what happened. Then I thought that I would see if the Solstice was as good on the outside as I thought it was and it was. From there, it was just a matter of putting your head down and running some good, clean laps.”
With Knowles win, he helped General Motors with its 126th SCCA National Championship, extending its winning streak to 51 years, while giving the Pontiac Solstice its first-ever SCCA Runoffs win it's debut.
Aquilante, one of the favorites to win SSB, spent most of the race in second-place until a flat left rear tire sent him to pitlane, essentially ending his bid for a podium finish. Both Knowles and Gilsinger, driver of the No. 07 Honda/Kumho/Aplinestars/Traqmate Honda Civic Si, were the beneficiaries of Aquilante’s misfortune. Knowles increased his lead and Gilsinger took over second.
Lee Niffenegger, of Delaware, Ohio, finished fourth in his No. 43 Honda/Hankook/DC Sports/Alpinestars Honda Civic Si, while Bob Boileau, of Monument, Colo., brought home his No. 34 Hoosier Tires/Pikes Peak Acura Honda Civic Si home fifth. The Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race was David Mead inhis 1999 Mazda Miata.
Now in its 43rd year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kansas, As Big As You Think annually crowns the best amateur road racers in North America as Champions. More than 750 competitors have gathered this year to battle for 25 class titles, with nine races on Friday and eight Saturday and Sunday. This marks the first year that the Runoffs is held at Heartland Park Topeka.
Celebrating its 62nd anniversary, Sports Car Club of America is a 55,000 member organization that sanctions and promotes grassroots and professional motorsports events in a variety of disciplines, including road racing, Solo, road rally and rallycross.