Jim Dentici, of Oconomowoc, Wis., took his second-career GT-Lite National Championship at the 2009 SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Defending GTL National Champion Christopher Bovis, of Lawrence, Kan., and Robert Lentz, of Chantilly, Va., completed the podium.
Starting second, Dentici immediately moved past polesitter Bovis on the opening lap, putting his No. 77 Raglin Racing/JDM Group Honda CRX into the lead as the field exited Turn One. Bovis was able to draft back up to Dentici on the long front straightaway to start lap two, but was unable to make a move for the lead. From there, Dentici continued to extend his gap on Bovis' No. 4 Goodyear/RedLine/JDM Motorsports Honda CRX, winning the GTL National Championship by 11.510 seconds.
"I got a push from Bob [Lentz's] car on the start," Dentici said. "It was really slow, I was in first gear. I really did get a good jump. I had enough room to turn in front of Chris in Turn One.
"We just had to fly. The deal Chris [Bovis] and I had when we came into this was that whoever was in the lead, let's go. And that's what we did. We pushed hard. We were turning laps faster than Chris qualified and a second faster than I qualified. The tires worked good, the car worked good. I ran hard the whole race. On the last lap I saw that Chris fell back, so I just talked myself around and got it done. It was pretty nice!"
Dentici also set the fastest lap of the race, a 2:33.285 (93.943 mph) en route to his fifth-career Runoffs win.
Bovis briefly slipped to third behind Lentz on lap two, but took the spot right back on the following lap. The 2008 GTL National Champion went unchallenged from that point forward, though transmission problems would prevent him from giving chase to Dentici and nearly cost him a podium finish in the closing stages of the race.
"Jim's [Dentici] car and my car were pretty much dead even," Bovis said. "He built the motors for both cars. He had just a little bit better of a reaction to the flag than I did. We were as close as you can get without hitting each other. We had a pretty good plan to work together and then worry about the order later. Bobby [Lentz] got between us there, but we figured that out and tried to pull a gap.
"About lap three, the clutch pedal wasn't working any more," recalled Bovis. "I'd never driven a car without the clutch, so I was trying to figure it out on the fly. Got the hang of it and caught up to him. I started losing gears toward the end and on the last lap I only had fourth and fifth gear. It ended up being a really good result. It was the result that Jim and I wanted. I think we disagreed on the order, but it is a good result."
After losing second to Bovis, Lentz also lost a position to the No. 72 Road n Race/Honda/RedLine/Goodyear Honda CRX of Peter Shadowen on lap nine. Lentz spent the remainder of the 13-lap, 52-mile race stalking Shadowen. After taking numerous looks in Turns Five and 12, Lentz waited until the final corner of the last lap to pull alongside Shadowen for a drag race up the hill to the finish line. Lentz would take the final podium spot by 0.031-second.
"The cars were amazingly well-matched," Lentz said. "[Shadowen] caught me mid-race. He pushed me to run a lot faster than I had up to that point. Whoever it was behind had a slight advantage down the straights because of the draft. I think his tires were starting to go away. He was starting to get very loose and then he bobbled a little in Turn 12. I was on his bumper and he ran a defensive line in the last corner which gave me a run up the straight."
Shadowen, of Loxahatchee, Fla., finished fourth. Rob Mcfarlane, of Happy Valley, Ore., completed the top five in his No. 27 Loyning's/Hoosier Toyota Celica.
Barry Bannon, of Saint Cloud, Fla., was named the Sunoco Hard Charger, for advancing nine positions during the race in his No. 46 Goodyear/Redline Oil/Goodyear Honda CRX.
The GTL National Championship race will be available on demand at www.speedcasttv.com/scca shortly after the conclusion of the 2009 SCCA National Championship Runoffs.