TOPEKA, Kan. (October 13, 2007) – After finishing runner-up in last year’s Spec Miata race, the 2007 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by AT&T was sweet redemption for Brad Rampelberg of San Jose, Calif., who took the win over defending Champion Andrew Caddell, of Graham, Wash. Steve Ott, of Missouri City, Texas, finished third.
Polesitter Caddell took the early lead in his No. 30 Saferacer.com Mazda Miata with the No. 4 HooverSpeed Mazda Miata of Rampelberg hot on his tail. For the next two laps, the pair circulated the track glued to each other’s bumper. On lap four, heading onto the front straight, Caddell had a slight bobble, giving Rampelberg the momentum into Turn One, where he would take over the lead.
“We had a good start,” Rampelberg said. “Steve Gorriaran gave me a couple bumps and moved me ahead. I thought I was going to be able to move past Andrew, so I started to move down, but then I saw him there and gave him some room. Andrew led the first couple of laps, but there was a little river running down the apex of Turn 14 and I was squaring it off just a little bit differently than Andrew and getting on the power quicker. I think he just got off and on it once and I was able to get the run on him on the outside going into Turn One.”
Shortly thereafter, Chris James’ No. 11 Saferacer.com/SpecMiata.com Mazda Miata and Andrew Rushing’s No. 33 Applied Racing Tech Mazda Miata needed to be removed from the Turn Nine area after separate incidents brought them to a stop near the wall. The clean-up required the race to be black-flagged to allow safety vehicles on the course.
When green-flag racing resumed, 10 minutes remained on the race clock.
Rampelberg maintained the lead on the restart, with Caddell hot on his heels. The pair immediately began to pull a gap on the rest of the field. Caddell waited until the last lap to make his move, attempting to take advantage of a slide by Rampelberg in Turn Nine, but ended up mirroring his competitor in more spectacular fashion, sliding completely off the track.
“Andrew was able to go through the faster stuff a little bit faster than me, so I knew that was the one place he was going to try me,” Rampelberg said. “On the last lap, I knew I had to get through those final corners well. I got it turned in at Ten, there was mud on the track and I started sliding. I was thinking ‘this is bad news.’ I gathered it up and I saw Andrew sliding across my mirrors and ending up in the dirt and I thought ‘I got it.’
Caddell returned to the track, but had lost too much ground to catch Rampelberg, who claimed the Spec Miata National Championship. Cadell would finish 1.252 seconds behind Rampelberg in second. Ott, in the No. 26 DriverSource/APEX HyPerformance Mazda Miata finished third after starting seventh.
Steven Gorriaran, of Providence, R.I., and Matthew Reynolds, of Boerne, Texas, completed the top five. Mark Hoover, of Cameron Park, Calif., earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 16 positions during the race in his No. 96 Planet Miata/boxracing.com Mazda Miata.
With the Spec Miata Championship, Rampelberg now has a chance to win a new Mazda MX-5 Cup car and Mazdaspeed parts package courtesy of Mazda, enabling him to enter the SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup. Rampelburg will compete against other Mazda champions for the prize in an off-season shootout.
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.