TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 11, 2008) – Andy Wolverton, of Papillion, Neb., was announced today as the SCCA Touring 2 National Champion after provisional winner William Ziegler, of Stamford, Conn., was penalized following an on-track incident at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs on Friday.
Ziegler initially took the checkered flag in dramatic fashion, as contact on the last lap sent then-leader Don Knowles, of Pittsboro, N.C., spinning across Ziegler’s nose and into the wall. Wolverton followed, after a race-long scrap with Michael Pettiford, of Louisville, Colo.
Starting from the pole, Knowles had a perfect start and immediately began to pull a gap on the rest of the field in his No. 35 Phoenix/Hoosier/Hawk/iRacing.com Pontiac Solstice GXP. At the race’s halfway point, Knowles had built more than two seconds on second-place Ziegler in the No. 05 Swisher/Hoosier/Phoenix Pontiac Solstice GXP.
With only a handful of laps remaining, Knowles’ lead disappeared and his mirrors were filled with the nose of Ziegler’s Solstice. As the white flag flew in the starter’s stand, Ziegler pulled to the left of Knowles heading into Turn Alpha. Approaching the kink, the two made contact, sending Knowles into a spin and into the wall.
Ziegler was found in violation of SCCA General Competition Rules part 6.8.1.A, B and C dealing with “On Course Driving Conduct.” He was placed 14th in the final standings, one position behind Knowles.
“I really hate for the race to go that way,” Ziegler said after the race. “It was a really unfortunate incident. I’m sure Don thought he had me cleared and everything was okay. He doesn’t drive like that and I don’t either. When the wall is this far away on the left, you’ve got nowhere to go.
“Don is my friend and I hate to see it go like this.”
Driving the No. 86 Raw Racing Pontiac Solstice GXP, Wolverton put on a spectacular show, charging through the field from sixth pace on the grid. After placing some considerable pressure on Pettiford for second, some well-timed lapped traffic allowed Wolverton to take over the runner-up position on the second-to-last lap.
“The last lap, I just kept thinking ‘don’t do anything stupid and fall off the track,’” 21-year old Wolverton said. “I saw [Pettiford] coming, but I thought he’d need at least one more lap to get me. I was nervous, but I was okay. Me and Mike, I would like to believe, were both faster than the car that qualified in front of us. He did a lot of vicious blocking and I would have done the same thing trying to hold on to a car as loose as his. Mike got around him and then I got a round him and it was hard reeling Mike back in. I never had to focus that hard to make that many consistent laps to catch him.”
Competing in the three classes, Pettiford began his weekend with a career-best second place finish in his No. 41 Go 4 It Racing Schools Pontiac Solstice GXP.
William Moore, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, was third on the final results, a career-best finish in the No. 3 Msports/Swift/Backstreet/Hoosier Pontiac Solstice.
Finishing fourth in the No. 34 AMSPerformance/VIP/TRE Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, Marty Grand, of Manassas Park, Va., also earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing seven positions in the race. Rob Hines, of Arlington, Va., completed the top five in his Kumho/Nismo/Redline/Carbotech Nissan 350Z.
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.