TOPEKA, Kan. (October 12, 2007) – Pete Peterson, of Lumberton, N.C., came back from an opening lap incident to claim his sixth GT-3 National Championship at the 44th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. Larry Hansen, of Eureka, Calif., and Tom Thrash Jr., completed the top three.
Peterson grabbed the lead early in his No. 98 Toyota/Redline/Goodyear Toyota Celica, but polesitter, John Black in the No. 17 Nissan 350Z stuck with Peterson through the opening corners. The pair collided in Turn Five, sending both into the grass. Peterson would continue, while Black remained parked in Turn five, hoodless.
Peterson fell back to sixth, but made quick work of the field, moving into third by lap four and into the lead, around the No. 76 RedLine/Toyota Motorsports/TRD Toyota Celica of Michael Cyphert, on lap seven in Turn Ten.
“I got a good start, got [John] Black at the start.” Peterson said. “We went up the hill side-by-side and touched. That must have knocked a wheel bearing or something, because after that I had no brakes for the rest of the race.I used the gearbox to slow down. It was a pretty wild ride. For a minute I thought that I was through, but I was only down a few seconds and the fellows ahead were sliding around so I decided that I would give it a whirl.”
As Peterson pulled away for his sixth GT3 SCCA National Championship, Cyphert appeared to have the second spot wrapped up, but spun on his own in Turn Four, allowing the No. 90 Nissan Motorsports/TCM Goodyear Nissan 350Z of Hansen to move into second.
Throughout the closing laps of the race the No. 16 Cars Houston/Mazda/Goodyear Mazda RX7 of Thrash Jr., and the No. 91 St. Clair Data Systems/Robinson Racing Nissan 200SX of Steve Spiers, from Marietta, Ga., had a spirited battle for fourth, which began a battle for third after Cyphert dropped out. The pair exchanged spots several times in Turns One and Ten, before Thrash Jr. took over the spot for good on lap 14. Spiers finished fourth, followed by Jeff Fleming, of Dallas, Texas.
Jeffrey Winter, of Arvada, Colo., earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 11 positions during the race.
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.