Lewis claims GT-1 Championship, Super Sweep
Michael Lewis, of Poway, Calif., claimed his fifth SCCA National Championship and first since 1997, winning the GT-1 title at the 2010 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Subway at Road America. Defending Champion Cliff Ebben, of Appleton, Wis., and Amy Ruman, of Kent, Ohio, joined Lewis on the podium.
The National Title also gave Lewis the SCCA Club Racing Super Sweep, which requires a driver to win his the National Point Championship, Division Championship, one of nine designated National Races and the Runoffs, all in the same class.
Lewis started on the outside of row one in his No. 12 Goodyear/Cyclo/Red Line Jaguar XKR. At the green flag, he moved past Gumout Polesitter Ebben's No. 36 McMahon Group/Stumpf Ford/Lamers Racing Ford Mustang in Turn One, leading the first lap with Ebben in hot pursuit.
Never more than a second ahead of Ebben throughout the entire 13-lap, 52-mile race, Lewis managed to hold off the Mustang and take a 0.402-second win. Lewis averaged 112.638 mph for the race in which he led every lap.
It wasn't without a couple of close calls for Lewis, who experienced both some mechanical difficulties and a lapped car on the final lap before bringing home his first SCCA National Championship since 1997.
"It's good to be back on the top step," Lewis said. "It's been a few years and I hope it doesn't take that long again. We caught a few breaks on this one. The exhaust broke on the first lap going down to Turn Three. It was loud and it was hot and I felt we were going to burn the car down, but we needed to keep going. Then near the end of the race the alternator light came on, and a belt came off. The checkered flag couldn't come soon enough for me.
"Cliff knows his way around here. He's pretty much the king around here. He does a really good job and his car is well prepared. I knew it was going to be a tough race. He's also real good at getting up to speed fast, so I thought if I could get in front of him at the start I could keep him at bay. Up the front straight he was really pulling some car lengths. Luckily, our car was hooked up a little better on some of the exits and it was just enough to keep him back there. Toward the end, his tires seemed to be going, but I think both of our Goodyear Tires were screaming."
Ebben fell less than a second shy of back-to-back National Championships, putting in enough effort to turn the race's fastest lap in a time of 2:06.148 (114.152 mph) and set a Runoffs race record.
"I had a pretty good start until I started pushing going into the first turn," Ebben said. "Michael drove around the outside and then I never really could get close enough to do anything as the race went on. A couple of times I did get close on the front straight. I had a pretty good run going but not enough to make it stick."
Ruman sat in third for the entire race, not close enough to challenge the leaders but safely ahead of fourth place in her No. 23 McNichols Co./Goodyear/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette. The podium finish was her best-career Runoffs finish, and the first Runoffs podium by a female racer since 1997, whn Andrea Kashiewicz finished runner-up in Sports 2000.
"We didn't have too many laps here this week, so we just tried for balance on our set up," Ruman said. "We were chasing a push much of the week and I thought we had a third-place car. It turned out I was right.
"I definitely tried to keep the leaders in sight. At the beginning, I thought the car might come to me. Especially if they were racing each other real hard, I might be able to catch up with them and take advantage of that if I could conserve the tires. They were in my sights for a while and then midway I lost sight of them. At that point, I was running real consistent laps. So unless something detrimental would happen, I knew I would remain in third position."
Simon Gregg, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., drove his No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette to his career-best Runoffs finish, matching his finish from 2007. Rick Dittman, of Prairie View, Ill., finished fifth in the No. 24 RDE Chevrolet Corvette.
James Bradley earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for improving from ninth on the grid to a sixth-place finish No. 01 Optical One Chevrolet Corvette.
Now in its 47th year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Subway annually crowns Champions in the Sports Car Club of America's Club Racing classes. The live broadcast of all 28 National Championship races is available throughout the weekend at www.Speedcasttv.com/scca and later available On Demand from the same site.
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More information is available at www.scca.com/runoffs.