Austin McCusker, of Glen Head, N.Y., took the lead from the pole in Formula Continental and fought off all challengers in his No. 06 Dot Works/Primus Racing Van Diemen/Ford to win the SCCA National Championship in his SCCA Runoffs debut.
"It was an exciting race," McCusker said, "I was just trying to get through the lapped traffic as clean as I could."
2014 champion Robert Allaer, of Lithia, Fla., finished second in the No. 52 Martini/Chandon/LTD Motorsports Van Diemen/Ford and Tim Minor, of Falls Church, Va., brought his No. 81 Automotive Specialist/Hoosier/Ski Citation/Ford home in third place.
After one aborted start attempt, the field took the green on lap two and there was a scramble up front as cars slid on cool tires and defending champion John LaRue's Citation and another car made contact, sending LaRue into the turn three gravel trap. That spin, coupled with car trouble for Mark Hutchison in a separate incident, brought out a full-course caution.
On the Lap 6 restart, McCusker and Minor broke away from third place Brian Tomasi. Minor put pressure on McCusker but lapped traffic and course conditions hampered his efforts.
"People kept going off track and dragging stuff up and the lappers were a bit of a problem today for me," Minor said, "I would run (McCusker) down on the back straight but couldn't get to him."
While Minor pressured McCusker up front, Allaer got by Brian Tomasi for third place on lap six.
"I ended up just catching (Tomasi) on the back straightaway," Allaer said. "Once we got in front our car was handling a little better and pulled away."
Once he was ahead of Tomasi, Allaer set his sights on second place Minor.
"I was happy I could just see Austin and Tim," Allaer said. "Any time you can stay anywhere near Tim Minor, you're doing pretty good."
On lap 15, Minor slid off track while passing a Formula Mazda in the split-class race, enabling Allaer to get by for second.
"I just tried to go by a Mazda and there was some oil down on the inside," Minor said.
Completing the top five were Tomasi, of Elgin, Ill. in the No. 96 Hoosier Van Diemen/Ford and Chas Shaffer, of Catlett, Va., in the No. 35 Hoosier Van Diemen/Ford.
While the live broadcast of all 28 National Championships is available at SCCA.com and Motor Trend OnDemand, each race will be on demand in the coming weeks.
Provisional results for Saturday's Formula Continental race at the 54th SCCA National Championship Runoffs from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Austin McCusker, Glen Head, NY, Van Diemen RF02, 19. 2, (4), Robert Allaer, Lithia, FL, Van Diemen RF02, 19. 3, (2), Tim Minor, Falls Church, VA, Citation US2000, 19. 4, (5), Brian Tomasi, Elgin, IL, Van Diemen RF06, 19. 5, (6), Chas Shaffer, Catlett, VA, Van Diemen RF00, 19. 6, (9), Alex Tollefsen, Brooklyn, NY, Van Diemen RF99, 19. 7, (11), Tyler Woods, Rockford, MI, Van Diemen RF93, 19. 8, (7), Douglas Rocco, Sandisfield, MA, Van Diemen DP08, 19. 9, (13), Cade Wilson, Howell, MI, Van Diemen RF94, 17. 10, (12), William Hoops, Mountain Top, PA, Van Diemen RF99, 13. 11, (14), Michael Occhipinti, Dearborn, MI, Van Diemen RF97, 12. 12, (8), Brent Gilkes, Richmond Hill, ON, Van Diemen RF03, 9. 13, (10), Mark Hutchison, Mukwonago, WI, Van Diemen RF99, 2. 14, (3), John LaRue, Muncie, IN, Citation Snipe FZ, 1.
Length of Race: 49 Miles Overall Time of Race: 38:19.146 (avg. 77.112 mph) Margin of Victory: 1.131 seconds Fastest Race Lap: 1:36.394 (96.803 mph) Lap Leaders: #81 lap 1 #06 laps 2-19 Sunoco Hard Charger: No. 68 Tyler Woods
Original post can be found here http://www.racer.com/scca-home/item/144644-mccusker-wins-runoffs-debut-in-formula-continental