Fandozzi Flies In Touring 3
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Kevin Fandozzi, of St. Joseph, Mich., held off a late charge by Richard Fisher, of Glencoe, Ill., to win back-to-back Touring 3 National Championships at the 49th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America Saturday.
Chad Gilsinger, of Marysville, Ohio, completed the podium.
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Fandozzi started from the Gumout pole position in the No. 31 Hoosier/Moton/Insight Driven Chevrolet Cobalt SS and took the early lead into Turn One with Fisher right behind him. Over the next 13-laps, Fandozzi’s mirrors were filled with Fisher’s No. 78 Autobarn Volkswagen/BF Goodrich Tire Volkswagen GTI.
“The temps were cooler today so the turbo did pick up a little bit of power,” Fandozzi said of his race start. “We knew going into it we were going to have to go out and stay out [front] — run clean laps. It didn’t take Richard more than a lap or two to get right up with me. Our cars are very similar. From there, it was put your head down and make as many good, clean corner entries as you can. Hats off to Richard, I have never been pushed so hard in my racing career. I was surprised I was able to stay as focused as I did with that pressure applied.”
“I was just trying to stay with Kevin,” Fisher said. “Kevin took off the first five or six laps. It was a qualifying pace. We actually saw a lap that was under the pole time. He was really trying to set a tremendous pace. There were parts of the track where I felt like my car was a little bit better. He just drove a tremendous defensive race. He really made very few mistakes.”
On the final lap, Fandozzi had a little more than a half second lead, which Fisher cut dramatically by the time the pair hit Canada Corner. Just then, Fisher made his final move. He went to the inside of Fandozzi in turn 13 for the lead, but couldn’t make it stick. Fisher carried too much speed in turn 14, went wide and couldn’t get the car to stay on track at the exit. Heading up the hill to the stripe, Fandozzi held off Fisher by 0.743-second for his second-career T3 title.
“The move I made on him through 13, I was very pleased with,” Fisher said. “I felt like I should have squared off 14 a hair sooner. I knew I was going to have wheels off. I was prepared for that. If I could have kept two wheels on, if I could have squared off a touch sooner without hitting Kevin, it may have worked. But, as it was, it didn’t. It was a good try. It was the most fun I’ve ever had not winning a race.”
“In turn 14 at the end, if that move would have worked, I would have hugged him [Fisher] and congratulated him on the best move possible,” Fandozzi said of the final lap pass. “If he could have gotten that car to just hook, and we would have raced up the hill, [that would have been great]. That was a very aggressive, very smart, well-timed move and I don’t think the grip was high enough to make it work.”
Fisher turned the Hawk Performance fast race lap with a 2:33.858 (93.593 mph), which was under the race’s pole qualifying time. He also earned the GoPro Hero Move of the Race for his last lap pass in Turn 13 trying to capture the win.
In addition to battling Fandozzi, Fisher spent the early part of the race going head-to-head with Gilsinger for second. Neither driver wanted to give an inch, while Fandozzi briefly got away. But, on lap four, Gilsinger lost the lead draft. From there, Gilsinger drove a smart, consistent race to bring his No. 07 HPD/BFG/Alpinstars/H&R/BRM Honda S2000 home third.
“I think Richard’s tires were cold and he was sliding all over the first lap so I was able to stick it in and get by,” said Gilsinger, the 2010 T3 National Champion. “I knew it wasn’t going to last. He is a fellow competitor on BFGs. I wanted to work with him to try to get up to Kevin.
“I kind of predicted the way it was going to be all week. I knew we were down on power and I didn’t really have a chance to mix it up with these guys. So, I just drove a clean race and made sure I was there if they made any mistakes.”
Rob Hines, of Arlington, Va., finished fourth in the No. 4 Nissan/Goodyear/Carbotech Nissan 350Z. Scotty B White, of Auburn, Wash., finished fifth in the No. 3 Knight Transport Specialty Vehicle Ford Mustang GT.
Tom Wickersham, San Ramon, Calif., was the Sunoco Hard Charger. He started ninth and finished sixth.