TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 13, 2007) – Chas Shaffer, of Catlett, Va., won his first-ever Formula Continental National Championship at the 2007 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by AT&T at Heartland Park Topeka. John LaRue, of Muncie, Ind., finished second, while Russ Lindemann, of Longmont, Colo., was third.
Under some of the best racing conditions all day, pole winner Niki Colleo powered his No. 81 pouredfoundations.com/Primus Van Diemen RF-01 to the early lead – a position he would hold until a mechanical issue forced him to retire on lap seven.
Colleo’s misfortune worked to Shaffer’s advantage, as he inherited the lead in his No. 35 Goodyear/Redbullvendors.com Van Diemen RF00. Over the next five laps, Shaffer’s mirrors were filled with LaRue’s No. 5 Goodyear/ICP/QuickSilver/OHLIN Citation Snipe FCZ. On the last lap, both Shaffer and LaRue were side-by-side, but LaRue could not complete the pass. Shaffer won by 0.471-seconds over LaRue.
“Things fell into place for me today,” Shaffer said. “With Niki [Coello] dropping out early it was a big break. That black flag hurt as I picked up a severe understeer when we went green again. I appreciate John [LaRue] racing clean. It would have been close for sure if there had been more laps because of the severe under steer. I had to lift earlier in order to get through some turns. We knew what we had and we were counting it down. I have raced against John for years and knew it would be clean. If he had gotten me, he would have gotten me. I would rather have finished second behind John than to have put us in the wall.
“This is unbelievable to me; my car was junk. We destroyed it at Watkins Glen this summer and have been rebuilding it ever since. We were still rebuilding it this past Monday here at the track. We really didn’t think that we had a chance. But, we had incentive to get it ready for today and it was a goal we achieved.”
Driving the No. 76 Rocky Mountain Tire & Auto Van Dieman RF99, Lindemann was running as high as second with three laps to go before Shaffer took the position dropping Lindemann to third, which is where he finished.
Kirk Kindsfater, of Fort Collins, Colo., drove up from his seventh starting position to finish fourth. Jose Gerado, of El Paso, Texas, recorded a career-best fifth place Runoffs finish.
Dave Weitzenhof, of Bath, Ohio, was the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing 10 positions throughout the race. He started 16th and finished sixth.
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.
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