Scott Tucker re-wrote the record books Friday at Road America, as the Level 5 Motorsports owner/driver took home the gold medal in a thrilling down-to-the-wire duel to claim his third consecutive SCCA National Championship.
In one of his best drives in his young six-year racing career, Tucker used the strength of his Microsoft Office 2010-sponsored Porsche 996 Twin-Turbo to fend off a hard-charging Dodge Viper of David Pintaric lap after lap around the famed 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course.
A heavy Lap 1 accident by two fellow STO class competitors put the field under a full-course caution for over 20 minutes and set up a final six-lap sprint to the finish, with pole-sitter Tucker in prime position for the win. While Pintatic managed to get up alongside the 500-plus horsepower Porsche on two occasions, Tucker failed to relinquish the lead over the entire 12-lap, 40-minute timed race.
After a series of smart, defensive moves and masterful driving, Tucker managed to bridge out a narrow gap on the Viper to take a 0.728-second victory at the checkered flag. It brought an end to an exciting battle that wasn't decided until the final corner on the final lap.
“It was a great race,” Tucker said. “David [Pintatic] had pressure on me everywhere. There wasn’t a lap to let up. I was very impressed with his driving. He pushed me to the limit. It was a good fight for a six-lap sprint race.”
Tucker not only reached the impressive milestone of claiming his 60th career victory but also notched his third consecutive SCCA National Championship and first in the STO category. Even more impressive, it came in his race debut of the specially prepared Porsche 996 Twin-Turbo.
“Winning my third consecutive National Championship is an incredible achievement and accomplishment and something I’m extremely proud of,” Tucker added. “It’s something we worked incredibly hard for. I’ve been running in the Runoffs since 2006 and none of these championships have been easy to win. I’m just very proud of the entire Level 5 team.”
Built and developed in conjunction with the Jeff Stone-led Kelly Moss Motorsports, both Level 5 and Kelly Moss worked tirelessly preparing the unique four-wheel-drive Porsche for its debut in one of America’s most prestigious racing events. The hard work paid off in a big way, as Tucker becomes one of the select few to have claimed a hat trick of wins in the Runoffs.
“Scott was real focused on going out and driving his hardest but not making a single mistake, and that’s what he did today,” said Level 5 team manager David Stone. “Unfortunately there were two yellows in the race, so that shortened the race time. It would have been fun to go for it for a clean race. But Scott did a really good job and everyone at Level 5 and Kelly Moss put in a great effort.
“There was a lot of time that went into the car, and it was a pretty trick car,” Stone added. “With all of the research, sourcing and bringing a lot of things together, it was a big project. But I’m glad we were able to bring home the win.”
There’s no rest for Tucker and the Level 5 crew as the team heads to Road Atlanta this weekend in preparation for 14th annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda, which will see both of their new HPD ARX-01g LMP2 cars in action for the 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance race that closes out the American Le Mans Series season.
The race, which also doubles as the second-to-last round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, which Level 5 currently sits second in the championship race, is set for Saturday, Oct. 1. The race will air on ABC at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 2. Live coverage will be available in the U.S. on ESPN3 or outside the U.S. on americanlemans.com.