TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 13, 2007) – Andy McDermid, of Grand Ledge, Mich., captured his third-career National Championship in American Sedan today, after his chief rivals crashed on the final lap at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by AT&T at Heartland Park Topeka. Bill Schepergedes, of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., and Jim Wheeler, of Lenexa, Kan., completed the podium.
McDermid started second in his No. 24 Felice Race Engines/Lane Auto Ford Mustang but got the jump on polesitter Jason Von Kluge’s No. 78 Mr. K’s racing Ford Mustang at the start on the damp, but drying track. McDermid held a comfortable advantage for the first handful of laps until defending Champion John Heinricy’s No. 58 TAR/Hoosier Pontiac Firebird caught him on lap nine.
Heinricy made contact with McDermid exiting turn 14 on the 10th lap, loosening both cars up and giving Tom Sloe, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, an opportunity to pass for second in his No. 74 Hoosier Tire/Russell Automotive Ford Mustang and challenge for the lead. Sloe took the lead on lap 12 and then battled Heinricy for the next three laps. On the final tour, Heinricy got a run out of Turn Three and made a diving move into Turn Four, only to find a lapped car in front of him. Heinricy hit the car, spun and collected Sloe. McDermid skated through for the lead and the win by 0.733-second over Schepergedes, who moved all the way up from 12th on the grid in his No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro.
“We started the race and I knew that we were in good shape; we were just hoping that the track would stay wet but it didn’t,” McDermid said. “About halfway through the race I had a huge lead and it was going perfectly and everything was wonderful and then the track started drying.
“I knew that Heinricy and Sloe had slick tires on so I just tried to keep cracking off as many fastest laps as I could, but then they finally passed me. I didn’t give them any grief over it and then they went away. I found that my tires were starting to come back a little bit and I thought to myself that these guys are pounding on each other a bit so this isn’t over. On the last lap, they began swapping paint so I thought that we were looking fat here. We came through three and I thought ‘you guys are going to do it, aren’t you?’ and away they went. Everybody went to the fence so I looked sideways and said, ‘see ya!’”
Wheeler, who started seventh in his No. 20 Hoosier/Rollcamera.net Pontiac Trans Am, came home with a career-best third, followed by Von Kluge, of Ann Arbor, Mich. and Brian Doll, of Crawfordsville, Ind.
Doll earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award for the race, advancing 15 positions from his 20th starting spot.
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.