In challenging conditions, Brian Novak, of Dearborn. Mich., took advantage of a late-race spin by Gumout polesitter Brandon Dixon, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., to win the Formula 1000 national title and his second SCCA National Championship Runoffs gold medal. Dixon wound up second, followed by Lucian Pancea, of Bellevue, Wash., in third.
While it never really rained during the 13-lap event, wet track conditions from earlier rains proved challenging. For the first two-thirds of the race, Dixon – the defending Formula 1000 National Champion – seemed to have done the best job of managing the conditions in his No. 7 Citation Engineering/Hoosier Tire Citation F1000 Suzuki running on full wet weather tires.
Dixon built a lead of more than nine seconds at one point, but Novak's No. 70 Dude Vodka/Hoosier Tire/NovaRace Piper F1000 Suzuki began to grow larger in his mirrors as the laps clicked down. As they crossed the stripe to complete lap 10, Novak - who was also running on full wets - closed the gap to 1.6 seconds behind Dixon and it appeared a late-race battle was about to begin. Unfortunately for Dixon, treacherous conditions in turn three reared their ugly head and forced him to spin onto the grass to the inside on the exit of the turn.
That was all Novak needed to take the lead and he cruised for the remaining laps to win by 7.877-seconds over Dixon, who managed to continue after the spin. It was Novak's first SCCA National Championship since taking the Formula 500 title at Heartland Park Topeka in 2007.
"It was a real good win," said Novak, who started from third on the grid. "Brandon pulled out a decent lead at the front at the beginning. I had a decent battle with Lucian there, and once I could break free from him, I just put my head down. The car was handling excellent. I could put it sideways, but I could bring it right back. It was just a matter of finding the limits of the car and putting it sideways in every turn.
"Once I figured out what I could do, I just tried to catch up to Brandon and run him down. He lost it at the exit of T3. It's just really hard to put the power down. I was sideways coming out of there more times than not, so it was a difficult one. We just put our head down and we went. My dad made a good call for handling at the beginning of the race at the beginning of the race and we went. It was brilliant."
Dixon came up one position shy of making it back-to-back Formula 1000 titles and settled for a silver medal. It was his seventh appearance at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs.
"The start was good," Dixon said. "I built up a little bit of a gap and I was able to maintain that gap, but the car was really loose and had a lot of oversteer. I was going through The Kink [turn 11] a little bit sideways about half the laps crossed up. It was pretty hard to keep that gap. Brian sort of got his going pretty good. I just pushed really hard to stay in front and it didn't work."
Driving the No. 6 Newport Hills Villa Stohr F1000 Suzuki, Pancea took the bronze medal after an extremely close battle with Glenn Cooper, of Roswell, Ga. Pancea and Cooper made wheel-to-wheel contact exiting turn one on lap nine, which forced Cooper to spin while Pancea continued without significant damage.
He went on to take his first medal in his third Runoffs appearance, topping a previous best run of sixth in Formula Mazda in 2008. Pancea won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award after starting sixth and also ran the Hawk Hot Lap at 2:38.508 (90.847 mph).
"I had a really good race," Pancea said. "The conditions were really challenging. We looked at the weather before the race and decided to use intermediate tires, and it was really slippery. I was close to [Novak] for a while before he pulled away a little bit and then I had a close battle with Cooper. We went into turn one and I knew he was close and then I felt a little bump. I had a cracked wheel, but it didn't change how my car drove. I just took care of it from there."
Despite the contact with Pancea and spin, Cooper managed to continue and came home fourth in the No. 43 Ralf Firman Racing/Hoosier Tire RFR F1000 Suzuki. Jeremy Hill, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, completed the top five in the No. 00 Hoosier Tire PHOTON VD07 Suzuki. Hill qualified on the outside of the front row, but was moved to the rear of the field after arriving late to the grid due to a last-minute switch to dry tires.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Provisional Results from Sunday's Formula 1000 National Championship Race, part of the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (3), Brian Novak, Dearborn, MI, Piper F1000 Suzuki, 13.
2, (1), Brandon Dixon, Tuscaloosa, AL, Citation F1000 Suzuki, 13.
3, (6), Lucian Pancea, Bellevue, WA, Stohr F1000 Suzuki, 13.
4, (4), Glenn Cooper, Roswell, GA, RFR F1000 Suzuki, 13.
5, (2), Jeremy Hill, Toronto, ON, PHOTON VD07 Suzuki, 12.
6, (9), Christopher Ash, Parker, CO, Speads RM 11 A Suzuki, 12.
7, (10), Terry Biner, Sandy, UT, Firman F1000 Suzuki, 12.
DNF, (7), William McLaughlin, Mooresville, IN, Firman RFR09 Suzuki, 1.
DNF, (8), Mike Beauchamp, Green Bay, WI, Van Diemen/Novak RF99 Suzuki, 0.
DNS, (5), J.R. Osborne, Englewood, CO, Stohr F1000 BMW, 0.
Time of Race: 35:30.614
Winner's average speed: 87.862 mph
Hawk Fastest race lap: #17 Lucian Pancea 2:38.508 (90.847 mph)
Lap Leaders: 1-10, #7 Brandon Dixon, 11-13, #70 Brian Novak.
Sunoco Hard Charger: #17 Lucian Pancea