ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Gumout pole winner Rob Huffmaster, of Clarkston, Mich., drove flag-to-flag to capture his first-career Super Touring Under National Championship at the 49th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America.
Joel Weinberger, of Hinsdale, Ill., and Marc Hoover, of Cameron Park, Calif., were second and third, respectively.
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Driving the No 7 VirSecServices.com/Hoosier Pontiac Solstice GXP, Huffmaster jumped out to an early lead and was never seriously challenged throughout the 13-lap, 52-mile race. With Huffmaster’s victory virtually in hand, there were only two questions that remained near the end of the STU race, which was run simultaneously with the Super Touring Lite race.
First, what was the margin of victory going to be? Second, would Rob pass Ray (Rob’s dad), who was currently running second in the STL race, before the start/finish line? Had Rob passed Ray it would have ended his dad’s chances to win.
Huffmaster chose to stay behind his dad coming up the hill to the stripe to give the STL leaders one lap to decide their race. Huffmaster beat Weinberger by 10.827-seconds for his first-career STU title and his father won the STL race.
“I thought as I was coming up on him [Ray Huffmaster], if he is in the lead I’m passing him and if he’s not, I’m going to let them go another lap,” Huffmaster said of his decision to slow down before the STU race finish. “He was in second, so I let him go and it obviously worked for him. I was really happy to see that.
“My strategy paid off pretty good at the start. I got a good jump on the guys in to the first turn. The Lotus that dove in actually helped me because it gave me an initial gap so they could not be in my draft going into five. The vacuum pump in the car went out. So I didn’t have any brake assist, at least that’s what I was told. On lap three or four they started closing in on me. I actually thought the race was over for us because the track three very hard braking zones and if you don’t feel comfortable with the brakes, I wasn’t going stay out there. Luckily everything held together in the car.”
Huffmaster turned the Hawk Performance fast race lap with a 2:26.294, which set a new Runoffs fast race lap record.
Weinberger started second in No. 1 Continental Audi/Castrol/BFGoodrich Tires Audi A4. Early on, Weinberger was locked in a head-to-head battle for second with Hoover in the No. 98 Hooverspeed/NRA/AMG/Necksgear Mazda Miata. Weinberger, the defending STU National Champion, passed Hoover in Turn One on lap five and was never seriously challenged again. Weinberger’s second-place finish gave him his third-career STU podium.
“Marc has a really fast car and he is a really good driver,” Weinberger said of his battle with Hoover. “I saw him in my mirror and I wasn’t quite sure where he would brake versus me [going into different corners]. We kind of sorted it out. We gave a lot of racing room to each other. We had a good time. I think I was a little faster in the corners and he was equally as fast in the straight, if not a tad faster.
“Once I was able to get around him and stay around him in Turn One, then I could go into chase mode and see if I had anything for Rob. But, I think Rob was just playing with us and decided once he [Rob] saw me get around Marc he was going to go check out. But, I had a blast. It was a fun race. After finishing first last year, which was great, I am still happy to be sitting at this table.”
“The start was kind of sketchy,” Hoover said. “All of the guys at the front were pretty experienced and we had the Lotus make a dive bomb in Turn One. It kind of made it interesting. It opened up some opportunities. It kind of made it fun.
“Joel and I diced back-and-forth a few times. While I had my tires under me, I could hang with him. We both gave each a lot of room and respect, and had a great time just playing. It was a lot of fun. It was good close racing.”
With Hoover’s third-place finish, he earned his second-career STU podium.
Michael Flynn, of Eustis, Fla., drove the No. 26 Irish Mike’s/BF Goodrich Tires BMW 325 E46 to a fourth place finish. Charles Tobel, of New Hudson, Mich., finished fifth in the No. 14 Discount Tire/Novi Wall Co/Hoosier Pontiac Solstice.
Phillip Royle, of Winnetka, Calif., was the Sunoco Hard Charger. He started 16th and finished 13th.