TOPEKA, Kan. (October 14, 2007) – Thomas Thrash Jr., of Houston, Texas, lead all 18-laps of the E Production race to claim his first SCCA National Championship at the 2007 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by AT&T. Tony Rivera, of Missouri City, Texas, and Bob Neal, of Harbor City, Calif., completed the top three.
After starting on pole and finishing second last year in E Production, Thrash took no chances in 2007, grabbing the EP lead from polesitter and defending Champion Lawrence Loshak at the start. Loshak’s No. 02 Enginetrans.com Honda Prelude remained in Thrash’s mirrors and ready to pounce as Thrash’s No. 67 Mazda/Goodyear/Lucas Racing RX7 began to get loose on lap five. Two laps later, Loshak went for the lead in Turn 10, but ran wide and through the mud, giving the lead back to Thrash.
The off-course excursion cut the right-rear tire on Loshak’s car and his gap to Thrash began to increase with each lap. On lap 15 Loshak came into the pits, handing over second place to Rivera, who was now 16.766 seconds behind Thrash. With only three laps to go, nothing could stop Thrash from taking his first-ever SCCA National Championship.
“I have to give Lawrence (Loshak) a lot of kudos,” Thrash said. “He was pushing me hard, especially through the middle part of the race. I was coming through eight and I was not getting through there fast enough, maybe there was something on the track, and he was catching me. We went down into Turn Ten and we were side-by-side and he went really deep and he went off a little bit. He must have lost a tire or something then. That was it for him, unfortunately, because we were really stuck in a tough battle. After that, I was just driving around trying to keep the pace up. This is a wonderful feeling; we have been working so hard.”
Rivera moved from fourth on the grid to third at the start in his No. 52 ESCP/Hoosier Tire Mazda RX-7 and inherited the runner-up spot with Loshak’s pit stop, equaling his best-ever Runoffs finish. Neal in the No. 08 MazdaTRIX/Performance Solutions Mazda RX7 finished third for the second year in-a-row.
Aaron Downey, of Corona Del Mar, Calif., and David Lemon, of Signal Hill, Calif., completed the top five.
Michael Sturm, of Grafton, Wis., won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing nine positions during the race in his No. 48 Honda City/Shorewest Realty Honda Prelude Si.
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.