Cullen Crowned STU National Champion at Road America
ELKHART LAKE, Sept. 24, 2010: Richard Cullen, of Marshfield, Mass., held off Joel Weinberger, of Hinsdale, Ill., to win the STU National Championship at the 2010 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Subway. Phil Parlato, of Commack, N.Y., completed the podium at Road America.
Starting second in the No. 81 Hoosier/smartbuilderscorp.com Acura TSX, Cullen flew past Weinberger, the Gumout polesitter, and into top spot at the drop of the green flag. Cullen took off into Turn One with a clear lead, leaving Weinberger to battle the rest of the STU pack as he fell back to fifth.
It didn’t take Weinberger long to work his way back to second and give chase for the lead. Cullen had more than three seconds on Weinberger to start the second lap, but by lap four, the battle was back on, and Weinberger was around Cullen for the lead in Turn Six. Cullen stuck with Weinberger, shadowing him until lap nine, when he would draft past the No. 3 Continental Audi/Fall-Line MS Audi A4 entering Turn One.
“I know Joel’s a heck of a driver, so I assumed he had a mechanical,” Cullen said. “Then when I saw the gap, I got a little too full of myself and slowed down too much.
“The track was really iffy. It wasn’t dry, it wasn’t wet, and the dry line wasn’t for me. I thought [Weinberger] was out of the race and then I saw him in my mirrors, so I picked it up. I searched all over the track for the best line for me.
“He got by me going into Turn Three, which is typically a second-gear turn for me, but it was slippery. He came by, and I knew he had it, so I let him have it. Then, I had the draft and I actually came up from three of four lengths back and had a run on him. I didn’t show the pop out until the end. I was able to make the braking stick, which was the hard part, and was able to get by him.”
With two laps to go, Weinberger started to set up Cullen for one last pass.
“I was going to try and make the move going into Three,” Weinberger said. “I was setting up to get on the power early and come down the inside. The car moved over a little defensively and then right before the apex, I came back across. The car just got a little squirrely and looped around. Fortunately, I was able to keep it somewhat on the track, stick it in gear and keep going.”
Unaffected, Cullen sped away to a 0.417-second win over Weinberger for his first SCCA National Championship, averaging 91.960 MPH in the 13-lap, 52-mile race. It was Cullen’s fourth-career Runoffs start.
Weinberger held onto second and recorded the fastest lap of the race, a 2:30.275 (95.824 mph).
Starting third and finishing third in the No. 16 Phil’s Auto Body Inc. BMW 325i, Parlato’s race was primarily with the Touring 3 lead cars in the combined STU/T3 National Championship race, after a lurid slide through Turn One on the opening lap.
“There was a little bobble on the part of the Audi at the start of the race and I was able to get by him,” Parlato said. “Then, I tried to chase down the Acura into Turn One. I saw him bobble in Turn One. I thought I could make a run on him, but the track was too slippery and I went off for a moment. I was able to gather it back up and get going.”
Don Istook, of Fort Worth, Texas finished fourth in the No. 01 REVO Technik/StopTech Brakes Volkswagen GTI-r. Michael Pettiford, of Louisville, Colo., completed the top five in the No. 41 GO 4 IT Racing Schools/Hawk/Hoosier Volkswagen Jetta GLI.
David Palfenier, Brett Fenske, Christopher Childs, Carolyn Kujala and David Mead completed the top 10. Mead was also the Sunoco Hard Charger of the race, advancing nine positions.
Now in its 47th year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Subway annually crowns Champions in the Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing classes. The live broadcast of all 28 National Championship races will be available throughout the weekend at www.Speedcasttv.com/scca and later available On Demand from the same site.