Prather Scores Eighth SCCA Championship With Dramatic GT-Lite Runoffs Win
Story and Image Courtesy of
ELKHART LAKE, Wis.
(Sept. 22, 2012) – Kent Prather, of Wakarusa, Kan.,
successfully defended his GT-Lite National Championship in dramatic
fashion at the 49th SCCA National Championship Runoffs® at Road America.
Prather pulled alongside Robert Lentz, of Chantilly, Va., at the finish
line to take the win by 0.023-second. James Hargrove, of Surrey, B.C.,
from the Gumout pole, Prather’s No. 26 Mazda/Moss/Goodyear/Torco/Carbotech
Mazda Miata held the lead to Turn Eight, where second-starting Lentz got
by. Four turns later, Lentz spun and relinquished the lead to Prather as
rain began to fall on the back half of the four-mile road course. On the
following lap, Prather spun from the lead in Turn 13, handing the lead to
Steve Sargis who drives the No. 18 SBS Batteries Hoosier Tire Triumph
“I got back into Canada Corner on the second lap and I just turned to the
right too hard,” Prather, an eight-time National Champion, said. “I must
have been in too low of a gear and I just spun around, but I was going the
right direction… It was just a rookie mistake.”
Sargis and Hargrove exchanged the top spot several times until lap seven,
when Sargis ran wide in Turn Three and slowed considerable on course,
before exiting the track at Turn Five. Hargrove inherited the lead in his
No. 38 RaceEnergy/Analytic Systems Honda Civic and, by this point, Prather
had remarkably worked his way back to second. This commenced a fantastic
duel between Hargrove and Prather that saw the two exchange the lead
several times per lap.
“The Honda was making very good power,” Prather said. “I’d catch him
pretty good in Turn One and Turn Three and I was able to go faster into
Turn Five, but he could out brake me anywhere. If I went down on one side,
he’d just go around me on the other side. It was a really good battle and
I just knew that I had to somehow keep ahead of him.”
The battle for the lead enabled Lentz and his No. 60 FGR/Nissan/Goodyear
Nissan Sentra SER to catch the dueling duo. Lentz set the Hawk Fastest
Race Lap in the process, a 2:35.053 (92.871 mph).
“I was trying to find the limit of the tires on every lap,” Lentz said.
“It was raining in a different corner every time. I was already spooked,
but I kept my head down and drove it at the limit as hard as I could. Once
I could see them [Prather and Hargrove] it was easier.”
On the penultimate lap, Hargrove made a costly passing attempt for the
lead in Turn 14 that resulted in contact between his Honda and Lentz’
“Kent was coming in pretty wide,” Hargrove recalled. “I figured he might
have left the door open, so I stuck my nose in there and he closed the
door. It was just racing. There was more than a little contact, but both
cars (Hargrove’s and Lentz’) survived and kept going. Because I lost all
the momentum when I hit, Bobby had to give me a shove up the
The loss in momentum enabled Lentz to draft past Hargrove for the
runner-up spot and give chase to Prather. What seemed like a sizeable gap
became dangerously close by Turn 12. Feeling the pressure, Prather slid
wide and into the grass at Turn 14. He pulled back on track alongside
Lentz and the two drag-raced up the hill. At the line it was Prather by
0.023-second, the third-closest finish in Runoffs history in the modern
“I think I’ve got to get the rookie book out again, because I’m pretty
sure I looked in the mirror at the wrong time,” Prather laughed. “All I
know is I was going to get a really good run on him going into Turn 14 and
he wasn’t going to catch me. The next thing I know I’m off the track! I
don’t know what to say other than I missed my apex, but I never let off
the gas. When I got back on the track I came on pretty close to him and
usually I shift into fifth through there, but I kept it in fourth, because
I knew if I shifted I’d lose just enough momentum. So I kept it in fourth
and got him by a couple splitter lengths.”
A victim of the race’s early rain shower, Lentz reminded himself to keep
hitting his marks until the leaders came into view. His climb to the front
of the pack earned him the GoPro Hero Move of the Race.
“I had the same strategy as I did last year, which was ‘attack as fast as
possible,’” Lentz said. “I stuck with Kent through Turn Five and started
attacking. I got a run on him in Turn Eight. We went barreling down into
Canada Corner. I saw the debris flag and figured it must have been
leftover stay-dry, because it was our first lap. After we were on the
brakes, I could tell it was raining. I just lost it and looped it. I was
really lucky, because my competitors took care of me and didn’t take me
While he prepared himself for a last ditch effort to pass Prather in the
final corner, he couldn’t have imagined it would finish as close as it
“Two years ago, I was racing Peter Shadowen for third place and I was in
fourth coming up to the last corner and he drove a defensive line and that
gave me a run up the straight,” Lentz said. “I was very focused on driving
my line and trying to do the same thing on Kent. I was tickled when Kent
took care of it himself and drove off the track! I must have lifted not
knowing where he was going to go; it’s obvious Kent didn’t and that was
the ball game.”
After blowing three motors in qualifying and enduring an up-all-night
rebuild, Hargrove’s Sunoco Hard Charger Award for coming from fifth to
third was well deserved, especially considering his lengthy battle with
“Kent’s car was stronger in one part – he ran really well in a straight
line,” smiled Hargrove. “I could out-corner him. I could out-brake him,
but if he was in front and took the line away, then I had to follow. He
didn’t give me many chances. I took the ones that were there and made some
passes, but his car has an amazing motor and after we hit in Turn 14, that
gave Bobby the chance to get a run on him, I was able to stay in Bobby’s
draft until the end, so I wasn’t too far down on power, but just a little
bit. Basically these guys had really good motors… Kent drove a great race
and Bobby came back to us and I think all three of us had an absolute
blast out there.”
Jonathan Goodale, of Conifer, Colo., finished fourth in the No. 04
Mazdaspeed/Hoosier/JoeApex.com Mazda MX-5. Peter Zekert, of Maryland
Heights, Mo., was fifth in the No. 45 Wiseco Pistons/Redline/RKI Group
Nissan 200SX SE-R.
Now in its 49th year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs 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
through Sunday at www.SpeedcastTV.com/scca and later available On Demand
from the same site.
Follow the action on Twitter @SCCAOfficial or the SCCA, Inc. Official
Facebook page at facebook.com/sccaofficial. More information is available
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Provisional Results from Saturday’s GT-Lite National
Championship Race, part of the 49th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at
Road America with finish position, starting position in parenthesis,
driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Kent Prather, Wakarusa, KS, Mazda Miata, 13.
2, (2), Robert Lentz, Chantilly, VA, Nissan Sentra SER, 13.
3, (5), James Hargrove, Surrey, BC, Honda Civic, 13.
4, (6), Jonathan Goodale, Conifer, CO, Mazda MX-5, 13.
5, (7), Peter Zekert, Maryland Heights, MO, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 13.
6, (8), Roy Lopshire Jr, Blue Springs, MO, Toyota Tercel, 13.
7, (4), Brian Downey, Bristow, VA, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 9.
8, (10), William Partridge, Mooresville, FL, Nissan Sentra, 7.
9, (3), Steve Sargis, Frankfort, IL, Triumph Spitfire, 6.
DNF, (9), Kyle Disque, Philadelphia, PA, Toyota Tercel, 1.
Overall Time of Race: 35:43.181
Average Race Speed: 87.347 mph
Margin of Victory: 0.023-second
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:35.053
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 92.871 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #38 James Hargrove
Lap Leaders: #26, laps 1, 11-13; #18 laps 2-5; #38 laps 6-10