McCaughey runs away with SSC National Championship
It took one lap to move to the front, but once Mark McCaughey, of Sarasota, Fla., took over the lead of the Showroom Stock C race at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Subway he was able to cruise to his first SCCA National Championship. Joel Lipperini, of Pittston, Pa., and Jonathan Start, of Caledonia, Mich., completed the podium.
McCaughey started second in the No. 18 Hoosier Tire/McCaughey Racing/TRD Toyota Celica GTS, and chased Gumout Polesitter Lipperini for the first lap around the 14-turn, four-mile circuit. McCaughey drafted past Lipperini's No. 1 RaceLabz/BFGoodrich/Raceshopper/Red Line/ChaseCam Acura Integra LS on the front straight, and then set sail for his first National Championship on a windy day at Road America.
McCaughey began to stretch his lead almost immediately during the 13-lap, 52-mile race. At the finish, McCaughey had earned his first National Championship by 11.402 seconds, averaging 84.483 mph. McCaughey's best lap is a new SCCA Runoffs record, completing the circuit in 2:49.415 (84.998 mph).
"It's really just indescribable," McCaughey said of his win. "We've been here the last couple of years and qualified really well, but didn't have the distance in the race. This car was perfect, we had great tires that allowed me to run my race. Joel was very fast in qualifying, and I thought it was going to be difficult to run with him, but the Hoosier Tires are just great. Joel is really the one to beat here, and it's pretty cool to be able to do that.
"Having a lead like that is one of the most difficult things to do in a race car. I've had similar versions of that at National races, but here for the first time you keep telling yourself the basics. Keep focusing on everything you do, each shift, each turn. You have to force yourself to do that. It's pretty difficult."
Lipperini spent the day essentially running alone in the gap between McCaughey and the battle for third.
"It's always good to be here at the Runoffs and finish on the podium," Lipperini said. "We showed up with last year's setup, and progressively through the week we grew a brain and tried some different things, but unfortunately I think each time we went backwards a little bit. We'll come back with the set up next year. It was a good week, we're second and I've got two good guys on the podium with me. I enjoyed the week."
Start was involved in the race's best battle, putting his No. 06 Hoosier Tire/Red Line Oil/Carbotech MAZDA3 into a wheel-to-wheel match-up with Brian Husting, of Irvine, Calif. The two went side-by-side several times, with Start chasing Husting's No. 65 Chevrolet Cobalt SS Coupe from the green flag until moving into third on lap seven. The battle scars were evident, with Husting's Mazda escaping with a tire-sized round circle on his driver's-side door.
"We started seventh and got a great start," Start said. "Brian and I had a good race, and about halfway through I was able to get around him. Once I did, I stayed in front and did what I had to do. He and I put on a good race, it was fun. I got right behind him on the start and he and I were nose-to-tail. My tires stayed in and I think his faded just a little bit."
Husting would finish fourth. The No. 02 Luther Westside VW/BFGoodrich Volkswagen Rabbit of Thomas Daly, from Minneapolis, Minn., completed the top five.
Larry Dulude, Kenneth Fitzgerald, James Place, James Ebben and Steve Hendricks finished in the top 10. Fitzgerald earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award in improving nine positions to seventh.
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 will be available throughout the weekend at www.Speedcasttv.com/scca and later available On Demand from the same site.
Follow the action on Twitter @SCCAOfficial or the SCCA, Inc. Official Facebook page at facebook.com/sccaofficial.
More information is available at www.scca.com/runoffs.