Brian Tomasi, of Elgin, Ill., made a last-lap pass on runner-up Revere Greist, of Madison, Wis., on the outside of Turn Five to claim his second-career Formula Continental National Championship in the 47th SCCA Runoffs Presented by Subway at Road America. Niki Coello, of East Troy, Wis., finished third.
Tomasi started second in the No. 96 Alligator Board/Hoosier Tire/Nova Van Diemen RF-08 and rode in that position for most of the race, while he continued to put pressure on the then race leader Greist. For several laps, Tomasi and Greist ran nearly identical lap times. In fact, the two traded spots several times over the final four laps. But, on the last lap, Tomasi got a run coming down the front straight and passed Greist in Turn One for the lead and held on to win by 1.672-seconds. En route to the win, Tomasi turned the race's fastest lap with a 2:11.894 (109.179 mph).
"I was pushing hard," Tomasi said of trying to catch Greist. "Revere was going like crazy. I just had to do everything I could to stay with him. We were maintaining a nice two second gap between us the whole run. And, towards the end, he'd maybe have a little problem in one corner and I close up a little bit.
"Once I started to get in his draft, I could really close up. I had some good runs in Turn Three and I was able to make a run on him in Turn Five. I had the lead for a little while and I tried to see where I was stronger. I definitely had good runs on the back section [of the track]. It was a tough battle. I did not have communications with my pits so I did not know how many laps were left. I thought we were on the last lap when he was leading. Luckily, it wasn't [the last lap]. I was able to make one more run on him and get the lead and hold him off for one more lap to win it."
From his third starting position, Greist got a great jump at the start and looked strong all race long. He led the first nine of the 13-lap race and 10 laps overall. He pushed his No. 56 Waypoint Health Innovations/Arms Up Van Diemen DP08 as hard as he could to catch Tomasi on the last lap, but couldn't quite catch him and finished second.
"Brian [Tomasi] drove a great race, congratulations to him for winning," Greist said. "And, of course, to Niki [Coello] for holding on to third place, it's remarkable what he did without a rear wing.
"It was a clean race. As Brian said, I'd have a couple of good corners, get a little gap. He'd have a couple of corners and he'd come back up to me. We were really just sort of see-sawing back-and-forth for the whole race. He passed me. I got him back. It was really a close race the whole way. At the very end, my left front tire went down some. But, that takes nothing away from what Brian did. It was a fantastic drive."
Coello, four-time Formula Continental SCCA Runoffs National Champion and the Gumout polewinner, had high expectations coming into the race looking to become the first five-time FC winner. Unfortunately, an issue with the rear wing of his No. 81 RFR/Hoosier Tire/Pouredfoundations Van Diemen RF01 prevented him from accomplishing that feat and he finished third.
"I had some wing issues," Coello said. "It drastically slowed us down the straightaway until it fell off. I think the flap was either turned down or the end plate was pulled out because I was not seeing near the RPMs I did even on much warmer days than today.
"I tried to stay as close to them as I could because you never know what is going to happen. We could have a restart or something. Or they [Tomasi and Greist] could bump a little too hard. When the wing finally fell off, I just tried to keep third because it was really loose in the Kink and the Carousel. I tried to go as fast as I could without crashing and bring home the bronze."
Piloting the No. 41 Liberty Motorsports/Hoosier Tire Van Diemen RF03, Brian Belardi, of Grafton, Wis., finished fourth, while John LaRue, of Muncie, Ind., finished fifth in the No. 17 Goodyear/ICP-Hyperco Citation.
Bobby Caldwell, James Smart, William McGinnis, Tony Smith, and John Norton finished sixth through 10th, respectively.
Norton was the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing four positions throughout the race. Norton started 14th and finished 10th in No. 02 Millennium Technologies/Flanners Mygale US-99.
Now in its 47th year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Subway annually crowns Champions in the Sports Car Club of America's Club Racing classes. The broadcast of all 28 National Championship races aired live throughout the weekend at www.Speedcasttv.com/scca and will be available later On Demand from the same site.
Follow the action on Twitter @SCCAOfficial or the SCCA, Inc. Official Facebook page at facebook.com/sccaofficial.
More information is available at www.scca.com/runoffs.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Provisional Results from Sunday's Formula Continental National Championship Race, part of the 47th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (2), Brian Tomasi, Elgin, IL, Van Diemen RF-08, 13.
2, (3), Revere Greist, Madison, WI, Van Diemen DP08, 13.
3, (1), Niki Coello, East Troy, WI, Van Diemen RF-01, 13.
4, (5), Brian Belardi, Grafton, WI, Van Diemen RF03, 13.
5, (4), John LaRue, Muncie, IN, Citation , 13.
6, (6), Bobby Caldwell, Terre Haute, IN, Van Diemen RF00, 13.
7, (8), James Smart, Fitchburg, WI, Van Diemen RF-00, 13.
8, (7), William McGinnis, Saint Louis, MO, Van Diemen DP08, 13.
9, (9), Tony Smith, Mayville, WI, Van Diemen RF-99, 13.
10, (14), John J Norton, Milwaukee, WI, Mygale US-99, 13.
11, (12), Richard Balsley, Naples, FL, Van Diemen DP08, 13.
12, (13), Bill Johnson, Austin, TX, Van Diemen RF2000, 13.
13, (10), Peter LeSueur, Saint Charles, IL, Van Diemen RF02, 13.
14, (11), Tim Walsh, Minneapolis, MN, Van Diemen RF-06, 11.
15, (15), Jody Seidler, Milwaukee, WI, Van Diemen RF99, 10.
16, (17), Jim Victor, Davenport, IA, Van Diemen RF05, 6.
DNF, (16), Jeffrey Pietz, Fresno, CA, Van Diemen DP08, 4.
DNS, (18), Stephen H Thomson, Minnetonka, MN, Van Diemen Rf-02, 0.
Winner's average speed: 108.232 mph
Fastest race lap: #96 Brian Tomasi, 2:11.894 (109.179 mph)
Lap Leaders: 1-9, #56 Revere Greist; 10-11, #96 Brian Tomasi; 12, #56 Revere Greist; 13, #96 Brian Tomasi
Sunoco Hard Charger: #02 John Norton
Attached image: Formula Continental National Champion Brian Tomasi.
Credit: Shaun Lumley