Scott Tucker Nabs Championship at the SCCA Runoffs For Third Straight Year
Topics: Scott Tucker, SCCA Runoffs
If he were playing hockey, it would be a hat trick. In other sports, perhaps a triple double or a grand slam—although the feat was not impossible, it was rare and evident of a high skill level and elite classification. Scott Tucker made history when he won his third consecutive T1 National Championship at the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National Championship Runoffs this past weekend.
His six SCCA Runoffs appearances have been good indicators of his improvement as a driver during his young, 6-year-old career. The past three Runoffs championships haven't been won easily, but instead earned by Tucker's skillful maneuvering, smart strategizing and an overall enormous drive to win. The 2011 Runoffs were no different, resulting in a suspenseful, action-packed race that wasn't sure until the very last moments.
Tucker this year opted for a Microsoft Office-sponsored Porsche 996 Twin-Turbo, the first departure from the Ferrari 430 Challenge he'd driven to the previous two wins under the same sponsor. The new car gave Tucker more power, which proved useful for a tough Dodge Viper driven by competitor David Pintaric, who pursued Tucker's lead for the entire duration of the race. Tucker's Porsche was built and developed by Kelly Moss Motorsports, led by Jeff Stone, in conjunction with Tucker's Level 5 Motorsports. The unique four-wheel-drive Porsche was just the ticket to get Tucker to the top of the podium three years running.
On the first lap of the historic 4-mile, 14-turn course at Road America, a heavy accident put the entire field under a full-course caution for more than 20 minutes, which built the pressure leading into the final six laps, essentially creating a six-lap mini sprint race to the finish. Whereas in his 2009 and 2010 races, Tucker danced between first and second places, switching with competitor Scott Buttermore throughout, in 2011 he commanding the front for the entire event. Pintaric managed to get next to the Porsche on several occasions, Tucker never let go of the lead while running the 12-lap, 40-minute timed race. Tucker's ultimate victory placed .728 seconds between him and Pintaric, but the win wasn't obvious until the final turn on the very last lap.
"It ended up being a great race," Tucker said. "There was pressure on me everywhere. Pintaric's driving never let up; he pushed me to the limit. There wasn't a lap to give, and that made for a good fight during a six-lap sprint race."
Tucker's historic third consecutive win was also a mile marker for his personal career. The 2011 SCCA Runoffs championship marked his 60th career win, and his first in the STO category. The race was also the debut of the Porsche Tucker drove.
"I'm extremely proud of this win," Tucker said. "Three consecutive national championships is definitely something to be proud of and something we worked incredibly hard for. In my six years at the Runoffs, I've never faced a win that came easy. I'm proud of our entire Level 5 Motorsports team."
The caution in lap one made this the second consecutive Runoffs in which Tucker drove a shortened race. The previous year, an incident delay put a 15-minute limit on the entire race. "It would have been fun to go for it for a clean race," Level 5 team manager David Stone said. "But Scott was focused on going out and driving his hardest and not making a single mistake, and that's what he did today."
The Runoffs' fall scheduling have made them a good focal point for the Level 5 Motorsports seasons, a big race between the majority of the season and the giant season-enders of Petit Le Mans and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup championship. Tucker's ability to fend off challengers without letting up is clear evidence of his increasing dominance in the racing industry, and his band new Porsche is just a preview of the power the team expects from its brand new Honda HPD ARX-01g at Road Atlanta in Petit Le Mans next weekend.
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