Turner scores 70th win at start of 2012 season

Tucker Kicks Off 2012 in Winning Fashion, Scores 70th Career Win

While the 2012 season hasn’t begun for most drivers and teams, Scott Tucker has already kicked off the New Year in dominant fashion, claiming five victories in eight races during a remarkable two-week stretch of SCCA National Championship events in Florida.

Tucker, who is coming off one of his most successful seasons to date, earning his second consecutive American Le Mans Series title and third straight SCCA National Championship crown in 2011, took his Level 5 Motorsports team to Sebring International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway for two packed weekends of racing.

  The focus of the ambitious effort was to qualify the five-time national driving champion for this year’s Runoffs in both the Grand Sport 2 (GT-2) and D Sports Racing (DSR) categories. Each competitor needs four race finishes to be eligible for the National Championship, held annually at Road America in September. 

In the pair of DSR races at the BFGoodrich SCCA Super Tour at Sebring on Jan. 7-8, Tucker went undefeated in his No. 55 West WX10 sports racer, winning both hard-fought battles, including one from the pole position. In Race 2, Tucker held off a charging Charles Dempsey by 0.325 seconds to take his 67th career victory. 

For the two 13-lap GT-2 races, Tucker showed impressive pace in his Porsche 997 Cup car, qualifying on pole for Race 1 with a 2:25.2 lap time. However, a left-front tire puncture on the first lap forced an early pit stop and swap to the backup car, which ultimately dropped him two laps back. His fortunes improved in Race 2 with a third-place finish, although a full-course caution, which led to an early checkered flag, dashed any hopes of a victory.

Just one week later, Tucker was back in action at Homestead-Miami Speedway, taking part in the Florida Region Palm Tree Double National on Jan. 13-15 with his West WX10 sports racer and Porsche 997 Cup car once again.

While another win and runner-up finish in DSR gave him a convincing lead in the National Championship standings, Tucker rebounded from the unlucky breaks at Sebring to dominate the GT-2 races at Homestead-Miami. Having started from pole in both events, Tucker led all but one lap in the two races combined, earning is 69th and 70th career victories.

“It was a real satisfying couple of weekends for us and a great way to start the season,” Tucker said. “The team worked real hard to put these cars together and I enjoyed some good battles on the track. We had some challenges to overcome but it all worked out in the end and I’m glad to be going for my fourth National Championship in a row later this year.”

With the goal of achieving entries to the SCCA National Champonships in DSR and GT-2 now complete, Tucker will head to the Runoffs at Road America on Sept. 20-23 with the opportunity of earning two additional titles to his already impressive resume, as he nears an unprecedented 75th career victory after just six years of racing. 

Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports will now turn their attention to the start of the American Le Mans Series, with the annual Sebring Winter Test on Feb. 8-9 to kick off their quest for back-to-back LMP2 championships. Level 5 is expected to debut its new Honda Performance Development ARX-03b early next month at the two-day test.

Both of Level 5's cost-capped LMP2 cars will be ready for the 60th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 17, which will open the ALMS season and also serve as the start of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship.

NEXT RACEThe next race for Level 5 Motorsports is the famed 12 Hours of Sebring, March 17, 2012.   It will be broadcast live on ESPN 3 with expanded coverage on ABC.  Check local listings for details.