TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 10, 2008) – Mike Miserendino, of Los Angeles, made a thrilling late race pass to capture his third straight Spec Racer Ford National Championship today at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. Brian Schofield, of Lakeland, Fla., and Jordan Gore, of Vero Beach, Fla., completed the top three.
Piloting the No. 11 MBI Racing Spec Racer Ford, Miserendino began his quest for a third National Championship from the pole and led the first seven laps, before Schofield drove through the Turn One grass to take the lead. Soon after Miserendino surrendered the lead, Gore made several unsuccessful attempts to pass Miserendino for second.
However, on lap 14, Gore finally passed Miserendino for third, but only because Miserendino’s car shut off and he had to cycle it. Once Miserendino made the adjustment, he retook second place and set his sights on the then leader Schofield. After trading paint for three laps, Schofield left the door open in Turn Five and Miserendino capitalized on it. He drove his No. 11 machine deep into Turn Five, came out with the lead and never looked back, winning by 1.955-seconds.
“With about five laps to go, we went through the Esses in Turn Eight and Nine and my car just shut off,” Miserendino said. “I had to reach up and cycle it. It came back to life luckily. From there, I just kept my head down and tried to get by Jordan. I wanted to get back to the front as fast I could.
“This track is really tough to pass at. [Schofield] slipped a little bit. The door was open just a crack. He gave me room. But, I was half on the grass, half on the track. He didn’t want me by and I don’t blame him one bit. We rubbed a little bit, but like Brian said, it was good fun and good racing.”
“It was a battle,” Schofield said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had to race that hard, that many laps. I knew that if Mike got out front, he’d be gone. When I got behind him, the car was pushing really bad. But, once I got out front, we were doing pretty good. We hit a few times, a couple times real hard. I think I bent my tow-in pretty good and it got me real loose. The last couple of laps were just about surviving.
“I looked up in the mirror and I saw that he was there. I knew if I came down, I was gone. I knew I’d been done, off the track. He forced it and I kind of gave it to him. I could have probably taken us both out. That’s probably what would have happened, but I saw him at the last moment and gave him enough racing room there. I could have chopped him, but I chose not to.”
While Miserendino and Schofield battled up front, Gore, who started fifth in his No. 15 Spec Racer Ford, stayed within striking distance in the event either of the two leaders made a mistake. Unfortunately for Gore, neither driver did and he finished third.
Tray Ayres, of Atlanta, and Andrew Charbonneau, of Delray Beach, Fla., finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Mark Hutchins, of Lincoln, Neb., was the Sunoco Hard Charger. He advanced 10 positions throughout the race.
The SCCA National Championship Runoffs® The Pinnacle of American Motorsports, will crown Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing National Champions for the 45th-consecutive year in 2008. The best amateur drivers from across North America will compete on Heartland Park Topeka’s 2.5-mile road course in what is considered the “Olympics” of motorsports. This year’s event began with four days of qualifying, Oct. 6-9, and has now commenced three days of National Championship racing, Oct. 10-12. Live timing, lap notes, results and photos are all available at www.scca.com/runoffs.