Sunday, December 4, 2011

Scott Tucker's 2009 SCCA Runoff Debut

By Susan Hall

Scott Tucker, owner and driver for Level 5, has made history this weekend at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. Through taking the victory lap, he nabbed his third straight SCCA titles, an historical feat that very small number of drivers have ever achieved.

In '09, the Runoffs classic was held initially in Elkhart Lake, Wisc., its 6th area since it began. The venue was near to Level 5 Motorsports' home base in Madison, Wisc. The team, which Tucker founded in 2008, had been young but had experienced some good success already in the 2009 season. Tucker competed and won in the Hawk Performance Touring 1 race.

His No. 55 Ferrari 430 Challenge had the pole position to start out, and he led the T1 field through turn one. In turn two, he lost the leading place to challenger John Buttermore, of Pontiac, Mich., who eventually would make podium behind Tucker. Tucker was hot on the tail of Buttermore's Nearbrook Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, keeping his second place status even with pressure from behind in driver Lance Knupp of Fenton, Mich., the 3rd driver to eventually reach the podium that day.

The very best 3 drivers fought it out through the race. Tucker followed Buttermore intently, waiting for the opportunity to overtake him. In turn five, Buttermore's error became Tucker's window, and Tucker passed him to regain the lead in lap 4, prior to turn six.

Tucker didn't look back for the remainder of the 13-lap, 52-mile race. When he crossed the checkered flag, Tucker had sped to a 1.42-second lead for the first place finish in his first Runoffs appearance. Along the way, he recorded the quickest lap of the race, with a 2:22.000 lap while in the competition.

"Both Buttermore and Knupp were formidable competitors for the duration of the race," Tucker said. "I was caught sleeping for a second there, when Buttermore overtook me, but he got a little wide in turn five, and I was able to take advantage of that. It really could have been anyone's podium today; both of those guys put up strong, consistent races. I had to be continuously focused because I knew if I made a mistake, either one of them would be right there to pick it up."

Shortly after Tucker overtook Buttermore, the Chevrolet lost stability due to braking, which helped Knupp's No. 37 Dodge Viper to work into the second-place spot. Even as Buttermore decelerated the pace, he still pulled off the third-place podium finish.

During 2009, Tucker was still in the middle of proving himself an elite driver in just his 3rd yr of professional racing. His decisive victory at the Runoffs, considered one of the best sports car races in today's world, added to his growing number of victories in 2009. Going into the 2011 Runoffs, Tucker was a different driver; he had not only two Runoffs wins under his belt, but a variety of other first-place and podium finishes from five different racing series. The 2009 SCCA Runoffs at Elkhart Lake, Wisc., were the start of two years of intense success for Tucker and his awesome Level 5 Motorsports team.

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