For Andrew Aquilante, winning Saturday’s GT-2 race at VIRginia International Raceway at Alton in the SCCA Runoffs and taking the national championship in the class was the perfect culmination of a project started several months ago.
The Chevrolet Corvette the Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, driver wheeled to victory and to a new GT-2 lap record was a car that was originally built for competition in the Touring-1 class.
Four months ago, Aquilante made a decision to rebuild the car to compete in the GT-2 class. As sometimes happens, the process took longer than expected, with the car finally coming out of the paint shop in August.
“It’s a looker,” Aquilante remarked after winning the 15-lap national championship race.
“It was quite the project to build it and get it ready. She’s a beauty, and she held together, and here we are. Relief is what this (winning the national championship) is.”
Aquilante started on the front row of the grid with South Carolinian Kevin Allen. By the time the pair exited the second turn on the 3.27-mile VIR layout, Aquilante was in command.
The Pennsylvania resident quickly pulled away from his challengers and sped to a 10-second victory over Allen in a Nissan 300ZX Z32. Allen was able to distance himself from the competition as well and was unchallenged for second place for most of the race.
There was some drama for Allen, however. On the last lap, his car’s engine went sour, and Allen barely made it to the finish line. The car could not make it through a cool-down lap.
“This car is exceptionally high strung and loves to break parts,” Allen said afterward.
“We apparently have now killed two engines this week.”
Allen said he was happy with the runner-up finish.
“We were tickled to get to second,” he remarked.
“The fastest car and fastest driver won today.”
Mark Boden of Winnetka, Illinois, finished third in a Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup car. Like the two drivers in front of him, Boden faced little challenge in securing a podium finish.
Pete Peterson of Lumberton, North Carolina, driving a Toyota Celica, finished fourth, and Randy Kinsland of Whittier, North Carolina, drove a Chevrolet Corvette to a fifth-place finish.
Championship Runoffs from VIRginia International Raceway, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps completed.
1, (1), Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA, Chevrolet Corvette, 15.
2, (2), Kevin Allen, Anderson, SC, Nissan 300ZX Z32, 15.
3, (4), Mark Boden, Winnetka, IL, Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup, 15.
4, (8), Pete Peterson, Lumberton, NC, Toyota Celica, 15.
5, (9), Randy Kinsland, Whittier, NC, Chevrolet Corvette, 15.
6, (7), David Tuaty, Miami, FL, Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup, 15.
7, (13), Stephen Kent, Frederick, MD, Ford Mustang, 15.
8, (14), Robert Korzen, Fredericksburg, VA, Ford Mustang, 14.
9, (11), Tom Patton, Fairfield Twp, OH, Sunbeam Tiger, 14.
10, (15), Kristofer Olson, Shingle Springs, CA, Acura NSX, 14.
11, (19), Danny Marshall, Danville, VA, Porsche 991.1 Cup Car, 14.
12, (6), Maurice Hull, High Point, NC, Ford Mustang, 14.
13, (17), Javier Vento, San Juan, PR, Chevrolet Corvette, 14.
14, (3), Tim Kezman, Franksville, WI, Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup, 14.
15, (24), Tom Stanford, Orland Park, IL, Chevrolet Camaro, 13.
16, (16), Jorge Nazario, San Juan, PR, Chevrolet Corvette, 12.
17, (22), David Bryson, Clemmons, NC, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 2.
18, (10), Lou Gigliotti, Princeton, TX, Chevrolet Corvette, 1.
19, (12), Joe Moholland, Saint Petersburg, FL, Chevrolet Corvette, 1.
20, (5), Aaron Quine, Wadsworth, OH, Chevrolet Camaro, 0.
21, (20), Christopher Qualls, Yorba Linda, CA, Chevrolet Camaro, 0.
DNS, (18), Michael Flynn, Orlando, FL, Porsche 997.2 GT3 Cup, .
DNS, (21), James Goughary, Houston, TX, Nissan 350Z, .
DNS, (23), Mike Henderson, Alpine, CA, Mazda RX-7.
Length of Race: 49 miles
Overall Time of Race: 28:16.755 (avg. 104.069 mph)
Margin of Victory: 10.791 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: 1:52.475 (104.663 mph)
Lap Leaders: #33 laps 1-15
Sunoco Hard Charger: #20 Tom Stanford