Thrilling SSB National Championship to Zabinski

Photo:John Steflik

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Sept. 25, 2010) – Ed Zabinski, of Stockbridge, Ga., patiently worked his way to the front to win the SCCA Showroom Stock B National Championship at the 2010 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Subway at Road America. Lance Stewart, of Miami, Fla., finished second and Lee Niffenegger, of Valencia, Calif., grabbed the final podium spot at the finish line.

At the drop of the green, the No. 1 Classic BMW/Hoosier Tire/Carbotech BMW Z4 of defending SSB National Champion Toby Grahovec took over the lead from Gumout Polesitter Matthew Staal. Stewart followed Grahovec around Staal and into second, then made his move for the lead on the following lap, passing Grahovec in Turn Eight.

On lap four, Staal made a big move for second and the lead in Turn Five, but carried way too much speed in, sliding his No. 53 Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Tires Honda Civic Si sidways into the gravel and completing a single roll. Staal was uninjured in the incident, but his day was finished.

By lap four, fourth-starting Zabinski, in the No. 97 Dead Horse Racing Ford Mustang V-6, had joined the battle and was challenging Grahovec for second. Stewart, Grahovec and Zabnski crossed the line nose-to-tail to start lap five. They would stay that way until lap six, when Grahovec was able to get around Stewart and into the lead.

Two laps later, Grahovec took a defensive line into Turn One to protect his lead from Stewart, and Zabinski saw his opportunity to set the pair up for a pass and grabbed the lead for himself in Turn Two.

“I knew that I didn’t have the legs to run them (Grahovec and Lewis) down,” Zabinski said. “But, they were having a pretty good battle that was slowing all three of us down. I knew that if I just sort of stayed back and watched for an opportunity – if they were going in too fast any place or going too wide. I guess Lance had some brake lockup issues and that was causing him to slide the rear end around. It looked like Toby was having an understeer problem too. Those two things added together. I think made them go wide in Turn One. I saw that coming. I just made sure I got slowed down and got on the power way early. That gave me probably five or six miles an hour on the exit of Turn One. I was in front of them by the end of Three and was able to gap them from there.”

Stewart dispatched Grahovec on lap eight in Turn Six and gave chase to teammate Zabinski. Stewart hung with Zabinski for the remainder of the 13-lap, 52-mile race. Though he set the fastest lap of the race, a 2:42.259 (88.747 mph), Stewart was unable to mount a challenge for the win. Zabinski crossed the finish line 1.019 seconds ahead of Stewart, averaging 88.051 mph.

It was Zabinski’s second National Championship. He previously won the Touring 1 Championship in 2008.

“Once Ed and I got cleared, we just had to sort it out and see who could get here first,” Stewart said. “I actually did catch him about two or three laps toward the end and then I gummed up 13. He gapped me again and I did not have enough to get back to him.”

After spending the first half of the race alone in fourth place, Niffenegger’s No. 42 Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Tires Honda Civic Si slowly reeled in Grahovec. The 2008 SSB National Champion had a plan for the pass and executed in the last corner of the last lap.

“There were certain areas of the track – the Carousel, Canada Corner – that I was getting through better,” Niffenegger said. “I think I was a little more patient and he [Grahovec] was sliding around a little bit more. Maybe he ran his tires off or something. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get him going into the corner. So, basically I moved inside and forced him to protect, which he did. Then, he ran wide at the exit and I was able to beat him up the hill.”

Following fourth-place Grahovec was Ralph Porter, of Kokomo, Ind., who finished fifth in the No. 32 Hoosier Tire/ Dryer Reinbold BMW Z4. Porter was named the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing six positions in the race.

Robert Beede, Robert Schader, Eddie Nakato, Jimmy Crawford and Steven Taake completed the top 10.

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 and later available On Demand from the same site.

Follow the action on Twitter @SCCAOfficial or the SCCA, Inc. Official Facebook page at

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Provisional Results from Saturday’s Showroom Stock B National Championship Race, part of the 47th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete. All cars have Mazda engines.
1, (5), Edward Zabinski, Stockbridge, GA, Ford Mustang V-6, 13.
2, (2), Lance Stewart, Miami, FL, Ford Mustang V-6, 13.
3, (3), Lee Niffenegger, Valencia, CA, Honda Civic Si, 13.
4, (6), Toby Grahovec, Chicago, IL, BMW Z4, 13.
5, (11), Ralph Porter, Kokomo, IN, BMW Z4, 13.
6, (7), Robert H Beede, Greenwich, CT, Honda Civic Si, 13.
7, (9), Robert Schader, Boulder, CO, BMW Z4, 13.
8, (10), Eddie Nakato, Lake Oswego, OR, Honda Civic Si, 13.
9, (12), Jimmy Crawford, New Berlin, WI, Honda Civic Si, 13.
10, (13), Steven R Taake, Spring, TX, Mazda MX-5, 13.
11, (14), Stan Czacki, Elephant Butte, NM, Chevrolet Camaro V-6, 13.
12, (15), Travis Wolcott, Boulder, CO, Chevrolet Camaro V-6, 13.
13, (16), Jerry Rigoli, Acton, MA, Mazda Miata, 12.
DNF, (1), Matthew B Staal, Torrance, CA, Honda Civic Si, 3.
DNF, (8), Richard Cullen, Marshfield, MA, BMW Z4, 2.
DNS, (4), Michael Scornavacchi, Manheim, PA, BMW Z4, 0.
DNS, (17), D Pratt Cole, Salt Lake City, UT, Ford Mustang V-6, 0.
Time of Race: 35:26.049
Winner’s average speed: 88.051 mph
Fastest race lap: #96 Lance Stewart 2:42.259 (88.747 mph)
Lap Leaders: 1, #1 Toby Grahovec, 2-5, #96 Lance Stewart, 6 – 7, #1 Toby Grahovec, 8 – 13 #97 Edward Zabinski
Sunoco Hard Charger: #32 Ralph Porter

Attached image: Ed Zabinski took the SSB National Championship at Road America.
Credit: John Steflik


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