TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 14, 2007) – Wayland Joe, of South Barrington, Ill., won his second consecutive Valvoline GT-2 National Championship at the 2007 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by AT&T at Heartland Park Topeka. Jim Walsh, of Redmond, Wash., and Jeff Moore, of Houston, Texas, finished second and third, respectively.
Polesitter Joe got a great start coming down the front straight heading into Turn One and took the early lead in his No. 1 Porsche GT-3. But, behind him there was a three-car incident involving Tom Patton’s No. 50 Sunbeam Tiger, Tony Rivera’s No. 52 Panoz GTS and Mark Plummer’s No. 31 Panoz GTS, which brought out a five lap caution to extract those machines from the course. All three drivers were able to get out of their cars.
When the race resumed on lap seven, Joe immediately put some distance between himself and then second place Jim Goughary. Goughary spent most of the race trying to catch Joe in his No. 46 Nissan/RedLine Oil Nissan 350z, but sustained a flat right side tire on lap 14 ending his day. From there, Joe was never challenged for the lead. He won by 3.401-seconds over Walsh.
“I am honored to win the National Championship again,” Joe said. “I got a good jump on Jim at the start, but you don’t know what those cars have. We know what Porsches have, but not the Nissan, the Sunbeam, or the Panoz. Patton is a great driver, Goughary is, Tony [Rivera] is, so I anticipated a hard race. The track conditions had changed, I was off the pace by three seconds. I was just hoping that others were running at the same pace as the track was wet and muddy. It was cold. I hit a mud patch once in Turn 10 and got a little sideways. I just tried to keep a gap to second place. I was keeping about five seconds and then he was out. I am very happy and honored.”
At the start, Walsh, who started fifth in his No. 96 Microsoft Live Search/Yokohama Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, managed to avoid the three-car melee and put together a consistent drive to earn his first-career Runoffs podium finish.
With his third-place effort, Moore also piloted his No. 32 Driversource Competition Panoz GTS to his first-career Runoffs podium finish.
Andrew Hauck III, of Cincinnati, recorded a fourth-place finish in his No. 41 Prather Racing Porsche 996, while Paul Baynard Jr., of Southlake, Texas, finished fifth in his No. 22 AutoComp Racing Toyota Celica.
Tony Giordano, of Overland Park, Kan., was the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing seven positions during the race. He started 19th and finished 12th.
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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