TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 13, 2006) – Mark Mercer, of Aurora, Colo., captured his first Sports 2000 National Championship in the late stages of the race at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kansas, As Big As You Think. John Fergus, of Powell, Ohio, and Bart Wolf, of Elkhart Lake, Wis., finished second and third, respectively.-30-
The start of the race was waved off twice by the starter, but when the green flag dropped DiRenzo rocketed his No. 27 Terpsteo/Goodyear JRE SR-71 F to nearly a three-second lead by the end of the first lap. At the time, it appeared that DiRenzo had the race well in hand, opening up a five and a half second lead by lap seven. But, as the laps ticked by, Mercer continued to chase down DiRenzo cutting the lead down to less than a second by lap 13 of the 18-lap race.
By lap 15, Mercer’s No. 06 Hoosier Tires Lola 91/90 was filling DiRenzo’s mirrors at every turn and finally made the pass on DiRenzo coming out of Turn 14 on lap 16. Just prior to the pass, it appeared that DiRenzo’s machine was experiencing mechanical problems and he pulled into pit lane.
Once in the lead, Mercer put it on cruise control for the remaining two laps, winning by 11.873-seconds (at an average speed of 81.983 mph) over the Fergus’ No. 00 Hoosier Tires/The Fergus Companies Carbir CS2.
“I’ve been sick all week,” Mercer said. “I did not run Wednesday or Thursday and I slept until noon today and I felt a lot better this afternoon. I was pretty nervous and I did not know what the start was going to be like. I didn’t know what Matt [DiRenzo] was going to be like and the tires were a big question. We went with the harder tires and Matt went with the softer tires.
He had a pretty good lead on me. I kept slowly working him down and I could see that his tires were going off. Toward the end, I was catching him every lap and then he got sideways in the Carousel and I said, ‘O.K. he’s losing his tires now so I just kept putting the pressure on him.’ I looked over and saw how many laps were left and I just put my head down and was running my fastest times. All I had to do was get around him. I didn’t see anybody behind me so I began to think, ‘I’ve got this race won.’”
Mark Hardymon, of Delaware, Ohio, finished fourth in his No. 54 Elite Fab/Hoosier Tires CS2, while Marc Walker, of Oldsmar, Fla., brought his No. 1 Comprent Motorsports Fox-Lola 01-03C home fifth. Darryl Shoff, of Reading, Pa., won the Sunoco Hard Charger of the race award for advancing four positions throughout the race, starting 12th and finishing eighth.
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.
Link to story: http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=685