Aquilante Is Unlikely GT-2 Winner
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — In a three-week span, Andrew Aquilante went from barely having a car to drive to winning the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Trent Hindman finished second.
Aquilante dominated the GT2 class race at the 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America track on Friday, leading all 13 laps to earn his second career SCCA National Championship Runoffs victory. He drove the No. 36 PhoenixPerformance/Hoosier Hawk Chevrolet Corvette.
Starting from the SafeRacer pole position, Aquilante briefly lost the lead in turn one on the opening lap, slipping to third behind Hindman and Joe Koenig. But, attentive to ever-changing track conditions, he jumped back to the front moments later. He grabbed second from Hindman by turn three and the lead from Koenig in turn five. From there, Aquilante set sail to a lead of nearly seven seconds before the only full course caution midway through the race.
On the lap-12 restart, Aquilante said he “wanted to get into turn one like there was no tomorrow, because I knew I had to clear them. Once their tires were going to come up to temperature it was going to be quite a fight.”
But that fight didn’t happen. Aquilante brought the pack to the green flag slowly before jumping to a five-car length lead over Hindman by turn one. By the checkered flag, Aquilante had extended his lead to 4.370 seconds over Hindman. Aquilante also earned the Go-Pro Move of the Race and set the fastest race lap of 2:16.717.
“We thought that we had the past champion provisional, so we figured we’d run GT2,” said Aquilante, who earned his first Runoffs win in 2007 in the T1 class Heartland Park in Topeka, Kan. “Really, coming into this, I didn’t know what to expect. But we figured we’d be pretty competitive.
“After qualifying on the first day, only a tenth of a second separating me and Trent, I knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Aquilante continued. “With the rain this morning, it made me really nervous until the track started drying out. Again, with our last minute sort of thing, we have experience with the Hoosier A6 tire, which we’ve run in touring classes. You’re allowed slicks in GT2. We chose not to switch to those, and in the scheme of things, it worked, because on a half-dry, half-wet track, which we’ve experienced before here, the A6 comes up to temperature.
“Hats off to Hoosier on the A6; it’s just an awesome tire,” Aquilante concluded. “And it’s a good feeling to put Phoenix Performance up top in quite a short matter. It was a three-week conversion build, and it feels good to be able to do something like that.”