John Buttermore, of Wixom, Michigan, first won the pole position, then led the SCCA Touring 1 race from flag-to-flag to capture his first Touring 1 class National Championship at the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Tom Sloe, of Newbury, Ohio, and Mike McGinley, of Overland Park, Kan., also driving Corvettes, finished second and third, respectively.
Because SCCA combines racing classes into a single race group, the T1 field, which consisted of 11 Corvettes and a single Dodge Viper, was mixed with another class of vehicles with similar lap times. Buttermore got off to a great start, but a full-course caution came out on lap two after contact between two cars in the other class. The caution was in effect for six laps of the 13-lap contest.
When the race went green six laps later, Buttermore put a sizeable gap between himself and the second-place Corvette of Tom Sloe. Buttermore also turned the fastest lap of the race at 2:33.069 (94.313 mph average. At the checkered flag, he had earned an 8.931-second margin of victory over Sloe to win his first SCCA National Championship.
"We'd prefer it [the race] had gone green the whole way," Buttermore said. "We spent a lot of time up here working on making the car smooth and consistent. We, maybe, sacrificed a little bit of speed. It was set up to run 13 laps hard. Two years ago, I was leading the first five laps of this event and the brakes were on the floor. Today, is quite a redemption.
Sloe started second and was side-by-side with Buttermore heading into Turn 1 at the race start. Sloe is himself a former Runoffs National Champion, and he did his best to stick right with Buttermore for most of the first lap before the caution flew.
Unfortunately, after the race went green again, Sloe fell several seconds behind Buttermore and couldn't quite catch him to win a second Championship. However, his second-place finish this year was some redemption over last year's T1 12th-place finish, when nine T1 cars were involved on a crash at the green flag.
"At the start, I was going to try to outbrake him [Buttermore]," Sloe said. "The C5 is a little bit lighter. Just because they're Corvettes, they're not equal. The C5 needs a little bit of help to compete against the LS3 C6, but I was trying my best."
"I thought I might be able to take a shot at outbraking him down in Turn 1. I didn't clear him. I got in deeper, but I didn't think I could come across his nose without getting touched, so I let him go. Then, I kind of got in the wrong gear going into (Turn) 5, but I had enough momentum to keep that going. Then the caution came out and we just kind of tooled around.
"I had a good restart on the inside coming up against the wall, but John jumped over and I was halfway up. I was into a wall here last year in a T1 and the car basically got totaled. I wasn't going to do another one, so I lifted. I didn't know if he saw me. I needed to do something on the restart and John made a great move through the grass, three-wide, and got away. That was all I could do.
"I lifted so I wasn't in the wall. It will probably haunt me. I will have to look at the film and see what it looks like to see if I made the right mistake or not. It is redemption. But, I'm sitting in the wrong chair. But, that's the way it goes. I am happy to be on the podium."
McGinley, who started third, spent the six green flag laps trying to chase down Sloe. In fact, McGinley knew his best chance to get around Sloe was on the restart on lap eight. But, McGinley couldn't quite get close enough and finished third, tying his career-best T1 Runoffs finish. He also finished third at the 2007 Runoffs.
"It was a real good race," McGinley said. "It was a lot of fun, but it was a real short race after the caution. I think it was six laps that we were under caution. But, it was very exciting. John kind of did break away from Tom and I. I was on Tom for a little while, but I tried to brake at the same time that he did and I figured out that's not a very good idea, so he gapped me a little bit and stayed ahead the whole time. It was a lot of fun."
You can see this Touring 1 contest, and all the SCCA National Championship races on demand at www.Speedcasttv.com/scca.