ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Chris Bovis beat Bobby Lentz by 0.007-second to win his second-career GT-Lite National title at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America.
Bovis’ win is the closest Runoffs finish in the transponder era. Steve Sargis finished third.
Bovis started fifth in the No. 78 JDM Motorsports/Hoosier Tire Honda CRX and spent the first nine laps battling Kent Prather, of Wakarusa, Kan., in the No. 26 Prather Racing/Mazdaspeed/Moss Motorsports Mazda Miata for second. The two swapped spots several times before Bovis finally got by Prather for good on lap 10. From there, Bovis had his sights set on then race leader Lentz.
Bovis turned the Hawk Performance Hot Lap of the Race (2:33.161, 94.019 mph) en route to catching Lentz. On the final lap, Bovis was right behind Lentz’s No. 60 FGR/Hoosier/Nissan Sentra SER heading into turn 12. By the time both cars exited the corner, they were side-by-side. After contact side-by-side, Bovis tucked in behind Lentz heading into the final corner, which set up a sling shot move around Lentz up the hill to the stripe. At the line, Bovis was just inches in front of Lentz, which earned Bovis the GoPro Hero Move of the Race.
“We got a great start, and were able to focus,” Bovis said. “We had a huge gap, and I really was not happy to see that yellow flag come out to pull everybody back together. Once Kent [Prather] got around me, that was really the first time I really had to get around one guy that had a pace. That took a lot longer than I wanted it to. He’s a pretty tough competitor. Once we got around him, I figured honestly that we were going to run out of time and run out of laps. I was yelling at myself in the car, pounding the steering wheel, trying to get myself psyched up to run him down. And, we almost did.
“The difference between Bobby’s laps and my lap’s was just a matter of a few feet here and there. I was trying to figure out where I was quicker. It was just marginally quicker. The best thing I had was (turn) 13, which is a terrible place to do anything. I’d love to tell you I had a plan, but I consciously thought going into [Turn] 3, this is just going to happen somewhere. Road America is a very important place for me. I grew up here. I’ve seen a lot of drivers run here differently. I just know sometimes here, if somebody is diving really hard into the corner, you can square the corner up, cut back, and just lengthen the straightaway up, and sometimes it works. That’s honestly the only option I had. It was the last lap and the best opportunity, and it was what it was.”
Lentz started from the Saferacer pole position and wasn’t seriously challenged for the race lead until Bovis caught him on lap 11. At that point, Lentz had to drive defensively to keep Bovis behind him. On the final lap, Lentz knew he and Bovis would have a drag race to the finish coming out of turn 14.
As bad luck would have it, and for the second straight year, Lentz was beat at the line by the narrowest of margins. This year, he lost by 0.007-second. Last year, Prather beat Lentz by 0.023. In two years, Lentz has missed winning a National Championship by a total time of 0.030-second. Lentz now owns three-career Runoffs podium finishes.