Kautz Nips Hazleton at Stripe to Win Formula F Title at SCCA Runoffs
Tim Kautz, of Geneva, Ill., narrowly beat Reid Hazelton, of Burlington, Wis., by 0.100-second Saturday to capture the Formula F title at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Jeff Bartz, of Plymouth, Wis., finished third.
Kautz, the Saferacer polesitter, and Hazelton treated SCCA race fans to the closest race finish of the weekend so far and they did it in grand fashion. Both drivers swapped the top spot several times throughout the 13-lap race. Leading on the final lap, Kautz drove his No. 88 Braeburn/Two Dogg/Hoosier/Euroquipe DF3D Honda into Turn 1 and slid wide, allowing Hazelton to take the lead in the No. 01 Hoosier/LMI Averill Stuff/Farley Engine Van Diemen RF92 Ford.
Now leading, Hazelton did everything he could to keep Kautz behind him, but Kautz broke late in Turn 5 and retook the lead. But the two weren’t done. Hazelton passed Kautz in Canada Corner and held the lead coming out of the final corner up the hill. At the stripe, Kautz passed Hazelton for the final time securing back-to-back Formula F National Championships and his third career FF title. Kautz’s pass at the line earned him the GoPro Hero Move of the Race.
“It was a great race, the whole race,” Kautz said. “We [Kautz and Hazelton] were battling a little harder than we should have at the start. And then, I could see Reid decide hey, there’s too many people coming out to play, let’s pull away a little. So we worked together. We kind of worked together, and the last couple of laps the gloves came off. I think the last lap, I went from first to second to first to second to first. So that’s a fun race, a real fun race.
“I did go wide there’s that fine line with carrying entry speed and the car pushing and I went in just a little too wide. You know, when you have somebody staying with you the whole race, you got to let that last lap count. And, I was hoping to get away a little bit, because I knew he was really fast down into [Turn] 5. I went through [Turn] 1 a little too quick, and the car pushed wide on me, and he got by me. Then, I got by him down in [Turn] 5, and then he got back by me in Canada (Corner), and then I got by him up the hill. So it was just good, hard racing. Somebody needs to put this guy [Hazelton] in a fast, (aerodynamic) car. It was great fun.”
“Yeah, it was close pretty much from start to finish,” Hazelton said. “Jeff [Bartz] kind of caught up to us, once me and Tim [Kautz] started to fight for it a little bit. I decided that was not the way to go about it once Scotty [Rubenzer] came up on us too. So then, we just worked together to establish a little bit of a gap. We both tried a couple different things to see where we stood. He tried up the hill and I tried in [Turn] 5. On the last lap, we had some lapped traffic that I tried to use, and Tim was just a maniac on the brakes in [Turn] 5, and he took it and he had it. So I knew the last place I was going to have it was in [Turn] 12. And, as we went up the hill, he just pulled right by.
“It’s good to finish, and finish well. We’ve been hit by the Runoffs gremlins, and they definitely made me earn this one. Traditionally, we do pretty well during the week, and then on race day for whatever reason something happens that kind of throws a wrench in the works.”
Hazelton turned the Hawk Performance Hot Lap with a 2:21.037 (102.101 mph) en route to his career-best Runoffs finish second. His previous best was a fifth-place finish last year.
Bartz started fourth in the No. 33 Hoosier/SBS/Two Doggs/Subway Van Diemen RF 92 Honda and moved to third after the first lap. At that point, he was engaged in a three-way battle for that position. A battle dropped him as low as sixth on laps four and five. But, he put his head down and slowly worked his way back to third, where he finished. Bartz’s third-place finish was a Runoffs career-best for him.
“In the beginning, I was right up there with Tim and Reid,” Bartz said. “But, on the second or third lap, I fell back there a little bit with [Scott] Rubenzer. Toward the end, I got around those guys and put my head down. I just ran out of laps.”
“[The podium] means a lot, just because it’s my hometown, and it’s just a fantastic opportunity.”
Rubenzer, of Brookfield, Wis., finished fourth in the No. 13 Morgan’s Collision Center/Storage B Spectrum 012b Honda. Cliff Johnson, of Stillwell, Kan., finished fifth in the No. 4 Alpine Litho-Graphics/Farley Engine Piper DF5 Honda.
Stan Townes was the Sunoco Hard Charger after improving 10 positions. He started 24th and finished 14th.
Provisional results for Saturday’s Formula F national championship at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Tim Kautz, Geneva, IL, Piper DF3D Honda, 13.
21, (18), Michael Lewis, Poway, CA, Vestal 09F Honda, 8.
22, (3), Lewis Cooper, Grosse Pointe, MI, Van Diemen RF00 Ford, 7.
23, (7), John Benson, Dade City, FL, Swift DB3 Ford, 7.
24, (10), David H. Livingston Jr, Nashville, TN, Swift DB3 Ford, 6.
Overall Time of Race: 30:54.526
Average Race Speed: 100.942 mph
Margin of Victory: 0.100 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:21.037
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 102.101 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #6 Stan Townes
Lap Leaders: #88 Laps 1-13
SCCA F Production Title Fight Goes To Carpenter
The F Production race at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs promised to be a prize fight between the three top qualifying cars. Mark Carpenter, of Charlotte, N.C., finished out front for his second career National Championship, followed by Eric Prill, of Topeka, Kan., and Kevin Ruck, of Delaware, Ohio.
Carpenter officially led all 13 laps and 52 miles of Saturday’s race, averaging 93.378 mph and winning by 1.823 seconds. In this case, the box score doesn’t tell the story of the race.
The No. 30 GGS Technical Publications Acura Integra piloted by Carpenter didn’t get the start that he had planned from the SafeRacer pole, but had recovered enough to hold the lead through the first turn. Prill’s No. 7 Jesse Prather Motorsports/Hoosier/Hawk Mazda Miata pulled alongside the leader from the second row up the front straight to the inside, while Charlie Campbell’s Miata moved outside of Ruck from the same row.
Exiting the corner and down the hill to turn five, the running order was Carpenter, Prill, Campbell’s No. 89 Hoosier/Jesse Prather Motorsports Mazda Miata, and Ruck’s No. 73 Hoosier/Honda Performance Development Acura Integra. Ruck drove deep to the inside of Campbell in turn five, slotting in behind Prill, and the three eventual podium finishers moved ahead of the field.
Carpenter would lead flag-to-flag for his second career championship, even with his mirrors full of his two closest competitors. Brake smoke from the right rear tire of the championship Acura didn’t slow Carpenter, who was making his first Runoffs appearance since his last title in 2009.
“Our decision to go racing didn’t happen until June of this year,” Carpenter said. “It’s a little different feeling this time around. In such a short period of time, my guys did a great job getting the car together, even on the trailer, to get it out of the garage. I was tripping over it in my garage for two years. It’s definitely a different feeling.
“A lot has happened over the last few years of my life. Things are changing constantly, and even though I’ve been out of the driver’s seat, I’ve still been at the track. People don’t realize it, but I’ve been working in pro racing [as an engineer] for the last couple of years. I’ve learned a lot of things at the track, actually, that have helped my driving. There’s a lot I’ve picked up on. It’s different this time around, but it feels just as sweet as 2009 for sure.”
Ruck’s power up the front straight to begin lap two put the pair of Acuras back up front. Prill’s Miata pulled right to the tail from turn five through turn 14, and the Acuras gained an ever so slight advantage on Road America’s long straights. Even with the differences in the two makes of cars, lap times were nearly identical.
As if to display those differences on lap seven, Prill moved around Ruck for second in Canada Corner, but Ruck powered back past up the front straight.
The scenario replayed itself again on lap 11, beginning with Prill making the GoPro Hero Move of the Race on a pass to the outside around the Carousel.
By the final lap, Ruck’s Acura didn’t want to go into fourth gear. Prill, in a reversal of fortune, pulled Ruck up the front straight and into second place with four miles to go. Prill also turned the Hawk Performance Hot Lap on lap nine, running a lap of 2:33.091 (94.062 mph).
The podium finish is the third for Prill, who also serves as the SCCA VP of Marketing and Communications.
“I really enjoyed myself,” Prill said. “I came here this year with two goals one to win the pole, and that didn’t happen, and one to win the race, and that didn’t happen but I still have a smile on my face, because I had a good time. I think I did the best I could do. And congratulations to these guys, because they did a great job.
“I’m in a unique position to see people win these things all the time, and I know the effort that goes into it. I don’t think Tony Kanaan, who won the Indy 500 this year, could even experience the same thing that a guy like Mark Carpenter could experience today, something that Kevin has experienced. You know, club racers are the chief engineers, the engineers, the driver, the guy that drives the truck to the track, that loads the trailer. We all have dirt under our finger nails and busted knuckles. This is truly something amazing to what Mark has accomplished today. I’d like to keep trying to do it.”
Ruck’s podium was a bit of a surprise, as he almost missed the event after sustaining injuries in a motorcycle crash in August.
“I wrecked my motorcycle about a month ago,” Ruck said. “I took a hard hit, and pretty much had a dead arm for a couple of weeks. I cracked a couple of ribs. Luckily, my doctor knew what my timeline was, and rather than do more MRIs on the shoulder that was damaged, we went straight to physical therapy. It was only about two or three weeks ago that I knew I would even have a shot at being here. But both of these guys were keeping in touch with me, asking if I would be there, so that meant a lot.”
After a big start where he moved ahead of Ruck, Campbell settled in and ran in fourth place for the entire race.
Bill Hingston’s No. 08 Little Bill Racing/MAZDASPEED Mazda Miata moved around Sam Henry’s No. 37 Springfield Dyno/SafeRacer/Hoosier Mazda Miata for the final time in Canada Corner following a back and forth battle for fifth.
Joe Walker moved up 12 positions from the start in his No. 5 Walker Racing/Hoosier Tires Lotus Super 7 to finish seventh. Gerald Lamb, David Strittmatter and Michael Froh completed the top 10.
Paul Jensen’s No. 88 Hoosier/MAZDASPEED/DIY AutoTune Mazda Miata earned the Sunoco Hard Charger for improving 14 positions to 18th.
The 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs, The Pinnacle of American Motorsports, crown Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing National Champions at Road America, Friday, Sept. 20 through Sunday, Sept. 22.
The live broadcast of all 28 National Championship races will be available through Sunday at http://www.SpeedcastTV.com/scca and later available On Demand from the same site.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. Provisional results for Saturday’s F Production national championship at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Mark Carpenter, Charlotte, NC, Acura Integra, 13.
2, (3), Eric Prill, Topeka, KS, Mazda Miata, 13.
3, (2), Kevin Ruck, Delaware, OH, Acura Integra, 13.
4, (4), Charlie Campbell, Corry, PA, Mazda Miata, 13.
5, (6), Bill Hingston, Aurora, CO, Mazda Miata, 13.
6, (7), Sam Henry, Republic, MO, Mazda Miata, 13.
7, (19), Joe Walker, Richland, MI, Lotus Super 7, 13.
8, (10), Gerald Lamb, Oswego, IL, MG B, 13.
9, (11), David Strittmatter, Akron, OH, Lancia Scorpion, 13.
10, (14), Michael Froh, Elkhart Lake, WI, Mazda Miata, 13.
11, (15), Michael Sturm, Grafton, WI, Mazda Miata, 13.
12, (17), Dieter Griesinger, Maple Park, IL, Mazda Miata, 13.
13, (23), Mark Weber, Saint Louis, MO, Mazda Miata, 13.
14, (22), Michael Hart, Mundelein, IL, Turner 1500, 13.
15, (25), Neal Frank, Santa Fe, NM, Mazda Miata, 13.
16, (26), Brent Louzon, Colorado Springs, CO, BMW 2002, 12.
17, (27), Robert Keller, Algonquin, IL, Volvo P-1800, 12.
18, (32), Paul Jensen, Colorado Springs, CO, Mazda Miata, 12.
19, (29), Rafer Chambers, Colorado Springs, CO, Mazda Miata, 12.
DNF, (12), Scott Lunder, Mentor On The Lake, OH, Honda Civic Si, 4.
DNF, (8), Rick Harris, Longmont, CO, Mazda Miata, 3.
DNF, (20), Steve Hussey, Capitola, CA, Mazda Miata, 3.
DNF, (30), Tony Machi, Greendale, WI, Honda CRX Si, 3.
DNF, (5), Ken Kannard, East Troy, WI, Mazda Miata, 1.
DNF, (9), Larry Funk, Oberlin, OH, Honda CRX Si, 1.
DNF, (16), Chuck Mathis, Saint Jacob, IL, Volkswagen Scirocco, 1.
Overall Time of Race: 33:24.761
Average Race Speed: 93.378 mph
Margin of Victory: 1.823 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:33.091
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 94.062 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #88 Paul Jensen
Lap Leaders: #30 1-13
Varacins Drives Flag-to-Flag to Capture Formula Vee Crown at SCCA Runoffs
Michael Varacins, of Burlington, Wis., drove flag to flag to capture his third-career Formula Vee National Championship at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Roger Siebenaler, of North Hero, Vt., and Brad Stout, of Webster Groves, Mo., finished second and third, respectively.
Varacins, the defending race winner, started from the SafeRacer pole position in the No. 65 SpeedSport/Veetech/Hooiser Speedsport AM-5. When the green flag dropped, Varacins drove into Turn One with the lead and never looked. Varacins was never seriously challenged and won the race by 20.252 seconds over Siebenaler.
“I kind of lucked out a little bit on the start,” Varacins said. “I got a good one. When I looked back, halfway through the first lap, I knew that I had a pretty good gap. I had a feeling if I just put my head down there was a good chance I could get away. Then, towards the end of the second lap, I could see the white Mysterian with the red nose (Seibenaler’s car) back there. I was afraid if he was leading the train and the other driver’s teamed up that they would run me down and I would be a sitting duck. I just focused on turning the fastest laps I could. Every time I looked back, they looked like they were further and further back. Then, my dad came on the radio and said that we were pulling away. Then, it was just a matter of hoping that everything just stayed together until the end. You start hearing every little noise and every little vibration the same old story that everybody talks about. Everything held together and that was it.
“This certainly is a special one [win] being the 50th [anniversary] and the last one being here at Road America. This is the one that I will probably remember the most. “
Varacins had the GoPro Hero Move of the Race for his dominating performance en route to his third Formula Vee National title.
Siebenaler, who is a three-time Formula Vee National Champion, started sixth on the No. 72 Autowerks/Hoosier Mysterian M2 and was up to second after two laps. However, two laps later Siebenaler dropped back to sixth. As the 13-lap race progressed, he consistently ran between second and sixth. In the end, he just nipped Stout for second.
“For a short period of time, when I got in front of the pack, I thought I might have a break if they kept fighting each other and I could do what Mike did,” Siebenaler said of the side-by-side racing for second place. “That wasn’t going to happen. They put their heads together and they basically freight trained me, and that was the end of it.
“It was a battle for second place out of six or seven cars. Like Brad [Stout] said one lap you’d be sixth, the next lap you’d be first in line. Then, you’d be stuck somewhere in the middle. Basically, you had to pace yourself because there were a few times when you might get a break. At this place, it’s not going to happen. There is a draft. If these guys work together, they’re going to get you. But unfortunately, we didn’t work together to catch Michael [Varacins]. We had our own race going, while he took off. We were racing for second place.
“But, it was a great race. Everybody behaved quite well. There is a lot of talent. I was pretty impressed with the number of cars that were able to get through that whole race pretty clean. We were battling at every corner especially in Turn Five.”
Five-time Formula Vee National Champion, Stout started on the outside pole in the No. 35 ACI Distributors/Noble Racing. Much like Siebenaler, Stout spent the entire race battling seven other cars for second and third place. Stout ran as high as second and as low as sixth, but finished third.
“I wouldn’t call it so much a battle as I would [call it] a bee hive,” Stout said of the seven-way race for second place. “To go from second, to fifth, to seventh, back to second, back to third all in one lap is about as crazy as it gets. We were kind of hoping to stay with Mike [Varacins]. We got separated early on. Mike did a fabulous job, kept his down. He went off and won the race and left the rest of us racing for second place.
“Anything on the podium, at the Runoffs, is a wonderful result. I’m glad to be here. You know, it’s a deep, talented field. I don’t know how many National Champions we had [in that race]. But, Vees are extremely competitive. It’s hard to do what Mike did. The race kind of showed just how competitive the class is.”
Jonathan Weisheit, of Baltimore, Md., finished fourth in the No. 61 JK Technologies, LLC. Jeff Loughead, of Darien, Ill., finished fifth in the No. 8 Hoosier Tire/L.L. Loughead, DDS Vortech CR04.
Stevan Davis, of Danielsville, Ga., turned the Hawk Performance Hot Lap with a 2:41.007 (89.437 mph) in the No. 80 Hoosier/Butler Engines/Roxxannes Head Racer’s Wedge SB-1. Mark Edwards was the Sunoco Hard Charger; he advanced 19 positions.
Provisional results for Saturday’s Formula Vee national championship at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Michael Varacins, Burlington, WI, Speedsport AM-5, 13.
2, (6), Roger Siebenaler, North Hero, VT, Mysterian M2, 13.
DNF, (42), Stephen Smith, Reston, VA, Caracal D, 1.
DNF, (35), Alexander Rizer, Warrenton, VA, Vortech FV, 0.
DNF, (38), Brian Swanson, Petaluma, CA, Mysterian M4, 0.
DNS, (31), Robert O’Connor, Woodbridge, VA, Vortech FV, .
Overall Time of Race: 35:13.616
Average Race Speed: 88.569 mph
Margin of Victory: 20.252 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:41.007
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 89.437 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #4 Mark Edwards
Lap Leaders: #65 Laps 1-13
Ebben Dominates GT1 class for Third Victory in SCCA National Championship Runoffs
Cliff Ebben of Appleton, Wis., dominated Saturday’s GT1 class race in the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, leading all 13 laps at the 4.048-mile, 14-turn track. Second was Doug Peterson of Bonita Springs, Fla., and third was Michael Lewis of Poway, Calif.
Ebben, the SafeRacer polesitter who barely edged Michael Lewis for the top position on the grid, averaged 113.630 mph in 27-and-a-half minutes. Ebben who also won the GT1 class in 2003 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and 2009 at Road America won by 28.410 seconds over Peterson.
“I didn’t realize that,” said Ebben, when told of the winning margin of victory. “Any of these guys or anyone in the field really could have won. I was lucky; this is my lucky day.”
Ebben was challenged momentarily by Lewis after the 17-car field took the green flag. Running side-by-side, Lewis attempted to pass Ebben on the outside of Turn 1, but couldn’t complete the pass and backpedaled several positions. Meanwhile, Ebben quickly established a lead, which was nearly seven seconds after only two laps.
Ebben turned the Hawk Performance Hot Lap of the race with a time of 2:05.647 (114.607 mph), a race record. Each lap, Ebben extended his advantage, sometimes by two or three seconds a lap.
“I can’t hear too well on the radio, so I didn’t realize that,” Ebben said. “I was looking for those guys to come up behind me at any time. The car felt a little bit slippery, but I guess it was less slippery than everybody else.
“I’m really happy. It’s great. This is the last (Runoffs) that is going to be here for awhile, and it’s in my backyard. It’s probably the best chance I had (to win) for awhile, so I’m happy.”
Meanwhile, Peterson, in the No. 8 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette, fought more than half of the race with Kyle Kelley, who moved from eighth to second in the opening two laps, which earned him the GoPro Hero Move of the Race. But Kelley, in the No. 8 UPRacing.com/Jamison Eng./1st Class Chevrolet Corvette, pulled into the pits after nine laps with mechanical issues and promptly retired.
“I started off a little sketchy, and tried to stay with Cliff as much as I could,” Peterson said. “I tried to brake and shift and drive all at the same time, and that didn’t work very well for me. And when I did shift, I shifted to the wrong gear. We did the best we could.
“I would close in on Kyle and then he would walk off a little bit, and we went back and forth a couple times,” Peterson added. “He was a super driver. I had a great time out there.”
Lewis, in the No. 12 Goodyear/Cyclo/Redline Oil Jaguar XKR, managed to move back to third by the checkered flag. He was aiming for a fourth consecutive victory in the class.
“The luck kind of ran out this year,” Lewis said. “I made a good start there on the front straightaway, but I ran out of room at the exit and I paid the price. That took me back to sixth or so. The car was just never right. I doubt anyone would have had anything for Cliff today. He was totally hooked up and gone. My car was just nowhere after that; something happened to it.”
Finishing fourth was Simon Gregg of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., who drove the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette. He was followed by Kevin Rich, of Round Rock, Texas, in fifth driving the No. 95 Cleaning System Specialist Ford Mustang.
Jim McAleese in the No. 03 McAleese & Associates/Jetco Engine Chevrolet Corvette was the Sunoco Hard Charger, moving up five positions, from 11th to sixth.
Provisional results for Saturday’s SCCA Formula Mazda national championship at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Cliff Ebben, Appleton, WI, Ford Mustang, 13.
2, (3), Doug Peterson, Bonita Springs, FL, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
3, (2), Michael Lewis, Poway, CA, Jaguar XKR, 13.
4, (4), Simon Gregg, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
5, (5), Kevin Rich, Round Rock, TX, Ford Mustang, 13.
6, (11), Jim McAleese, Leesburg, VA, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
7, (6), David Fershtand, Fort Worth, TX, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
8, (9), Denny Lamers, Neenah, WI, Ford Mustang, 13.
9, (14), Phillip Daus, Mt Prospect, IL, Chevrolet Camaro, 13.
10, (12), Tom Smith, Springdale, AR, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
11, (10), Dave Ruehlow, Oconomowoc, WI, Ford Mustang, 13.
12, (15), J. Richard Grant, Germantown, TN, Chevrolet Corvette, 12.
13, (17), James Cantrell, Tucson, AZ, Chevrolet Corvette, 11.
14, (13), Terry Giles, Loxahatchee, FL, Chevrolet Corvette, 9.
15, (8), Kyle Kelley, Huntington Beach, CA, Chevrolet Corvette, 8.
DNF, (16), Rick Dittman, Prairie View, IL, Chevrolet Corvette, 5.
DNF, (7), David Pintaric, Canfield, OH, Chevrolet Corvette, 5.
Overall Time of Race: 27:27.457
Average Race Speed: 113.630 mph
Margin of Victory: 28.410 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:05.647
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 114.607 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #03 Jim McAleese
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-13, #6 Ebben
Schofield Takes Second SRF Title At SCCA Runoffs
Brian Schofield, of Lakeland, Fla., outlasted a field of Spec Racer Ford drivers to take his second career win at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs on Saturday at Road America. Defending champion Cliff White, of Huntsville, Ala., and Todd Harris, of Portland, Ore., finished behind Schofield on the podium.
Schofield earned his second National Championship and extended his consecutive podium streak to seven years in a row in the No. 61 PM Racing Spec Racer Ford, averaging 90.457 mph in the 13-lap, 52-mile race to win by 0.878-second.
Schofield started on the SafeRacer pole but, as the leaders raced to turn one, the No. 14 Impress Communications machine of Paul Marino and the No. 63 PM Racing machine of Neil Lund touched and shot into the outside wall and across the track. Both cars saw heavy damage, but the drivers were out of the car and ok.
Race officials covered the incident with a local yellow, keeping the rest of the four-mile circuit under green flag conditions.
Drafting down the long straightaways, the lead pack was 10 deep through the early stages. Schofield took his turn up front as White’s No. 58 Thompson White Racing Spec Racer Ford worked up from his seventh starting position. White used some precision, aggressive driving to move to second place with a pass in Canada Corner, and then moved to the lead for the first time in the same place on the next lap.
Schofield and White swapped the lead, with Schofield settling back in front on lap eight. The lead pack caught a lapped car in the Kink, a single-line, lightning fast corner at Road America, on lap 8, and Schofield had to tap the break to stay behind it. That gave Harris an opening to take the lead.
That only lasted until turn five on the next lap, when Schofield once again moved back to the lead.
“I knew I wanted to be up front,” Schofield said. “I didn’t want to fall back any further than third. I actually pulled a gap and thought I could maybe get away, because I saw there was some racing behind me. But we ran into a backmarker in the Kink, so I didn’t just lift; I actually had to brake, and it could have been pretty nasty. But I let him go by me each way. I was going to push Mike, and then Mike went wide coming onto the front straightaway, so that caught me up to Todd. Cliff went by me, and when they said five laps to go, I see his weaknesses, I’ve raced him enough, I know where he’s good and I know where he’s bad.”
Schofield, White, and Harris’ No. 24 Pro Drive Racing/HMS Spec Racer Ford pulled a gap on the lead pack to decide the podium amongst themselves, and with two to go it was down to Schofield and White.
Schofield earned just a couple of car lengths on White, and raced to the finish. Always a front-runner at Road America, Schofield unloaded with a quick car and, with limited track time, prevented any of the other front runners to tweak their setups to catch up.
“I just pushed him away from Todd. We were going to make this a two-car race, and we were going to make this clean and fair. So I just conserved my tires and just sat behind him, because basically my car was on the rails. The rain played into my hands because my car is phenomenal here. There was only one good [qualifying] session, and I took advantage of the good session.”
White, who won the title a year ago, had a failing wheel bearing on the final lap and couldn’t truly challenge Schofield. That left him pleased with the runner-up finish.
“This all started Tuesday during qualifying,” White said of his drive to the front. “It was a tactical error; we put old tires on for that session, and also screwed up our shocks. So we ended up starting seventh. Our goal was to be in the top three or four at the end of the first lap. I don’t know if that actually happened, but I knew I was close. I know that the level of this competition in this class is remarkable, and I’m just happy to be here racing against these two great competitors for a second year in a row.”
Harris was thrilled with the third-place finish after a runner-up a season ago, and the Portland-native is already looking forward to the 2014 Runoffs at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on the west coast.
“This whole time, this whole team has known that the 2013 Runoffs is the jumping off point for 2014, pure and simple,” Harris said. “I said, let’s get what we can get. [Mazda Raceway] is not a home track for me. I’ve run it quite a few times, but it’s much more of a home track than this one.
“I hope that everybody will make the trip out. I mean, we want to race the full field. Brian is in the same position as me. If he can get his drivers to come out, he gets to go. If he can’t, he probably can’t go. I’m going to keep baiting him for everything it’s worth. I told him, if I have to say something bad about his mother, I will. Come on, come race me. He’s an awesome driver, and it’s a privilege to drive against him.”
Jeff Beck, of Ingleside, Ill., hung in the lead pack early in the race and ran as high as second in the No. 31 Lindell/Ryan Spec Racer Ford before finishing fourth. Bruce Myers finished fifth in the No. 28 Seacoast Physiatry machine.
TJ Acker, Mike Miserendino, Denny Stripling, and Tray Ayres, who were all in the lead pack early in the race, finished in the top 10, as did Keith Verges. Acker’s No. 62 MBI Racing Spec Racer Ford turned the Hawk Performance Hot Lap in a 2:38.034 (91.120 mph).
Scott Rettich, who crashed his primary car in Tuesday’s fast qualifying session and moved to a back-up car for the rest of the week, started 45th and moved all the way to 15th to earn both the Sunoco Hard Charger and the GoPro Hero Move of the Race.
Provisional results for Saturday’s Spec Racer Ford national championship at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
Lap Leaders: #61 laps 1-3, 6-7, 9, 12-13; #58 laps 4-5, 10-11; #24 lap 8
Aquilante Dominates Touring 1 at SCCA Runoffs
Andrew Aquilante, of Chester Springs, Pa., dominated the Touring 1 National title race at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America for his second victory of the weekend. Jerry Onks, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Michael Pettiford, of Louisville, Colo., completed the podium.
Aquilante started from the SafeRacer pole position in the No. 36 Phoenix Performance/Hoosier/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette and dropped to second heading into Turn One. Eight corners later, Aquilante passed Preston Calvert, of Potomac, Md., for the lead and never looked back. Aquilante weathered the race’s three-lap caution to win by 34.182-seconds, at an average speed of 83.542 mph. En route to the win, Aquilante turned the Hawk Hot Lap with a 2:15.216 (106.496 mph).
“We knew on the race start, just like in GT-2, that we were going to be a little bit outgunned down the straight away,” Aquilante said. “Preston and I jumped on the power about the same time, and I knew he was going to walk me. I was pretty nervous about David [Pintaric] and the Viper back there, as well, so I kept close to the inside to take that option away from him. The first half lap went pretty much exactly to plan. There wasn’t much I was going to do down in Turn Five with him, and so when I got him in the carousel, that’s where I expected to do it.
“I was really nervous on the restart, because I figured David could get a really big run. I knew from yesterday they through the green a lot earlier. Again, I made him go to the outside, held Turn One, and cleared off. “
While Aquilante won his first T1 National title in 2007 at Heartland Park, his GT2 Championship yesterday and his T1 win today have more importance to him than his 2007 feat. Aquilante believes these two wins are more special because he won them at the 50th SCCA Runoffs.
“With the 50th anniversary of the Runoffs here, we looked at that and used the past National Championship provision to run GT-2,” Aquilante said. “To win that, and win T1, it’s a great honor. To win it at the 50th here at Road America, probably one of the most prestigious road courses in America, and what SCCA has done for the 50th to make it a special event again. I would have liked to have been the only one to win two, but Lawrence [Loshak] won two yesterday. They just made the event awesome, and it’s a great feeling to have won.
Onks got a good start in the No. 96 Wilwood Brakes/VetteSport/Hoosier Chevrolet Corvette and was just outside the top three early in the race. On lap seven, Onks inherited third place when Calvert’s No. 77 Phoenix Performance/Hoosier/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette had mechanical issues. Onks moved to second when then second-place driver David Pintaric pulled his No. 40 Kryderacing/WRP Investments/Hoosier Dodge Viper ACR-X off into the grass between Turns Five and Six. From there, Onks battled Pettiford late in the race to keep his second place finish by 1.1 seconds.
“We got a really good start,” Onks said. “Andrew started pulling ahead, and the rest of us were probably a second or so apart. And then, we got the caution, and that’s what allowed us to group back up. I got a good start, and something happened with Preston, and that allowed me to move up to third. We got going, and Pintaric broke down in Turn five, so that put me in second. We were just heading home, and then all of a sudden I saw this guy [Pettiford] in my mirrors and they said on the radio he’s coming for you.’ We just had to keep pushing it the whole way, but the car worked great. We had problems all week long, and we’re just thankful we got it back together.”
Onks’ second place finish was a career-best at the Runoffs. His previous best finish was third in an STO car in 2010.
Pettiford started eighth in the No. 41 Go 4 It Racing Schools/Hoosier/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette and managed to stay out of the Turn One trouble shortly after the start. From there, he ran a consistent race that put him on the podium for the second time in 41-career Runoffs starts.
“I stayed out of the melee in Turn 1, and just kind of worked my way up through,” Pettiford said. “I had very good brakes on the car, and it stayed consistent all race so I could close people up as their brakes started fading. The car was just great, everybody did a fabulous job.
“It feels really good to be out of the cheap seats for a change, and be up where the lights are. The last time I was on the podium was at Topeka in the T2 class, and it feels good to be back. “
Pratt Cole, of Salt Lake City, finished fourth in the No. 88 Western Metals Transport Dodge Viper.
George Biskup, of Naperville, Ill., started 12th and finished fifth in the No. 16 Biskup Motorsorts Ford Mustang. For his efforts, he had the Go Pro Hero move of the race and was the Sunoco Hard Charger.
1, (1), Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
2, (5), Jerry Onks, Murfreesboro, TN, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
3, (8), Michael Pettiford, Louisville, CO, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
4, (6), Pratt Cole, Salt Lake City, UT, Dodge Viper, 13.
5, (12), George Biskup, Naperville, IL, Ford Mustang, 13.
6, (13), Tim Myers, Atlanta, GA, Dodge Viper, 13.
7, (14), Tim Hund, Norfolk, VA, Dodge Viper, 13.
8, (15), Norman Betts, Ann Arbor, MI, Chevrolet Corvette C5, 13.
9, (2), Preston Calvert, Potomac, MD, Chevrolet Corvette, 11.
10, (3), David Pintaric, Canfield, OH, Dodge Viper ACR-X, 9.
11, (10), Jason Berkeley, New York, NY, Chevrolet Corvette GS, 8.
DNF, (4), Todd Napieralski, Chelsea, MI, Chevrolet Camaro SS, 3.
DNF, (11), George Winkler, Frederick, MD, Ford Mustang, 2.
DNF, (7), Joe Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA, Chevrolet Corvette, 0.
DNS, (9), Ken Davis, Escondido, CA, Chevrolet Corvette C6, .
Overall Time of Race: 37:20.799
Average Race Speed: 83.542 mph
Margin of Victory: 34.182 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:15.216
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 106.496 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #16 George Biskup
Lap Leaders: #36 Laps 1-13
Mercer Takes Exciting Sports 2000 SCCA National Championship
Mark Mercer, of Aurora, Colo., earned his third Sports Car Club of America National Championship, winning Sports 2000 at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs. Bart Wolf, of Elkhart Lake, Wis., and David Doran, of Cincinnati, Ohio, completed the top three at Road America.
With planned changes in the Sports Racing category of SCCA, it marked the 34th, and final, Sports 2000 race as a class, with Mercer becoming its second most decorated driver, tying Bob Lobenberg with his third title.
Mercer started from the SafeRacer Pole Position in his No. 34 Ferenco/Hoosier Tires Lola 90/91 Ford, and held the lead from start to finish in the 40-minute limited, 10-lap race around the four-mile circuit. His win did not come easy, though, as Wolf’s No. 8 Goodyear/Lake Street Carbir CS2.8 Ford was charging at the finish, challenging for the position through Canada Corner and into Turn 13 on the final lap.
In the end, Mercer was able to nose ahead entering Turn 13, taking the win by 0.51 second.
“I knew Bart was back there and he was the one that would catch me if anybody could,” Mercer said. “The breaks went in my favor, for the most part.
“I just tried to keep [Wolf] back there. He was better than me under braking in two places that I knew of. I kept on driving as fast as I could and kept trying to get a run through the traffic. It was a great race. It was very intense. I liked it and I wish there would have been more Sports 2s here to enjoy it. Our class is leaving us, so this is the last one.”
Wolf started fifth after much of qualifying during the week was rained out, and had to work past Doran, Tony Sleath and Michael Bautz to get to the runner-up position. Wolf closed up on Mercer on lap six, but caught traffic and fell back to nearly three seconds behind. On the penultimate lap, Wolf set a race lap record at 2:16.283 (106.930 mph), which allowed him to close on Mercer for the final lap.
“It was a great run,” Wolf said. “We had a little misfortune in qualifying. I was just trying to enjoy every lap. It was the last race here and the last race for Sports 2000. Just tried to live in the moment and be there. It was just really fun.
“Traffic played a little bit of a factor. Unfortunately, one of the Formula Mazdas had quite a moment in front of me at the top of Turn Six. Luckily, I didn’t have a big impact there. So I just started working on trying to catch back up to Mark [Mercer]. Toward the end, the last lap we were right there. [Mercer took] a couple interesting lines into some of the corners to prevent me from passing. Then, finally in 12 we had a little bit of contact. We’ll see what transpires from there.”
Doran started fourth and moved to the final podium position in his No. 77 Hoosier/Doran Racing Doran JE-1 Ford. It was a lonely run for the 1995 Sports 2000 Champion.
“My race wasn’t too eventful,” Doran said. “I got a good start and then I just settled in. My car was kind of pushing a little too much. Those guys just kept pulling away. With that push, I just couldn’t get out of the corners.”
Michael Bautz, who started third, finished fourth in the No. 42 Hoosier/Juliospolishing crib/Artera Lola T90/90 Ford, with Chris Helt completing the top five in his No. 25 Excelle Racing Lola T89/90 Ford.
In addition to taking the Hawk Performance Hot Lap, Wolf also earned the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing from fifth to second.
Mercer’s retention of the lead was named the GoPro Hero Move of the Race.
The race was run in conjunction with Formula Mazda, which had a startline crash, necessitating a lengthy cleanup. The cleanup resulted in the race running up against its 40-minute time limit, instead of the 13 laps planned.
Provisional results for Saturday’s SCCA Sports 2000 National Championship race at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Mark Mercer, Aurora, CO, Lola 90/91, 10.
2, (5), M Bart Wolf, Elkhart Lake, WI, Carbir CS2.8, 10.
3, (4), David Doran, Cincinnati, OH, Doran JE-1, 10.
4, (3), Michael Bautz, Machesney Pk, IL, Lola T90/90, 10.
5, (6), Chris Helt, Fort Collins, CO, Lola T89/90, 10.
6, (7), Jack Donnellan, Chickasha, OK, Lola 598, 10.
7, (8), Steve Meyer, Longmont, CO, Lola 88/90, 10.
8, (9), William B Niemeyer, Loveland, OH, Doran JE-1, 10.
9, (11), Charles Duncan, Cottage Grove, WI, Lola 88/90, 10.
10, (10), Hawley Chester, Atlanta, GA, Royale RP 38/42, 9.
DNF, (2), Tony Sleath, Dearborn, MI, Carbir CS2-A2, 2.
Wills wins Formula Mazda class race in SCCA National Championship Runoffs
Darryl Wills of Houston, Texas, earned his third Formula Mazda victory in four years Saturday in the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. He was followed by Brian Lift of Crestwood, Ill., and Robert Noell of Cary, N.C.
Wills moved from third to first with a series of moves on the third of 10 laps. The race was stopped for nearly 20 minutes after a first-lap accident involving Sam Lockwood and Ken De Nault, who hit the pit wall moments after taking the green flag. Both drivers emerged from their cars under their own power.
Wills’ move came on SafeRacer polesitter Doug Peterson, who led the opening two laps, on the outside of the Carousel, which earned him the Go-Pro Hero Move of the Race. After that, he ran away in his No. 23 Hillenburg Motorsports/Hoosier Tire Star Formula Mazda. His margin of victory over Lift was 14.363 seconds.
“You have to know your competition,” Wills said. “All the fast guys were running Goodyears, except Brian, and we were running Hoosiers, which come in really quick. You have to make your moves fast on Hoosiers.
“I got inside of Doug coming out of (Turn) 8, and we headed for the Carousel. Both of us hit the Carousel, and didn’t lift. We were both catching the car, losing the car, catching the car, losing the car, and I got the front wheels ahead of him as you come through the dips about three-quarters of the way. That’s when my car hooked up, and it was gone.”
Wills, who also won the 2010 and 2011 races, turned the Hawk Performance Hot Lap of the race with a 2:15.492 (106.279 mph), near the end of the 10-lap event. The lap was actually quicker than his qualifying lap of 2:16.042. The field had only completed one dry session since practice began earlier this week.
“I’ve been at this for 40 years you never let up,” Wills said. “As soon as you let up, if you have a comfortable lead, you let up and you make a mistake. You get out of your rhythm. The car is set up to hammer out 13 laps, wide open, full-on, and that’s exactly what I intended to do.
“We spend a lot of time in this car,” Wills added. “When you’re in a spec car, it’s the little things that make big differences. I have a really good race car.”
Behind Wills, Lift who started sixth and Alan McCallum staged a spirited battle for second, swapping the lead numerous times before Lift, in the No. 29 Mazda/Hoosier/Havoc Motorsport Star Formula Mazda, pulled away in the closing minutes.
“I eventually got to third, and Alan and I battled lap after lap after lap, before I finally got a gap,” Lift said. “We both kind of made some mistakes there, but overall, it was a good race.”
Noell, driving the No. 27 Guest Concepts/VIPER Star Formula Mazda, earned third, his first career podium. He said his tires struggled with grip in the early stages of the race, but the car came in as the race continued.
“When we went green, it was just an ice rink out there,” Noell said. “By the time the tires heated up, I began catching everybody. That’s just the way it panned out; we just didn’t have the speed today.
He said he nearly picked off Lift for second, but simply ran out of time.
“I was catching Brian and Alan, but I didn’t know the race was going to end when it ended,” Noell continued. “I got around Alan and was planning on passing Brian in Turn 1, because I had a lot more momentum than he did in Turn 14. When they threw the checkered flag, I was right beside him. I just ran out of laps.”
McCallum, of Houston, Texas, finished fourth in the No. 1 Alan McCallum Racing/GKmotorsports Star Formula Mazda, while Stuart Rettie, also of Houston, was fifth in the No. 21 Hillenburg Motorsports Star Formula Mazda.
The Sunoco Hard Charger of the race was former race winner Juan Marchand, in the No. 06 AGYFIELD.COM/Hoosier Tire/JRM Star Formula Mazda, who moved up eight positions from 16th to eighth.
Provisional results for Saturday’s SCCA FM national championship at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (3), Darryl Wills, Houston, TX, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
2, (6), Brian Lift, Crestwood, IL, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
3, (4), Robert Noell, Cary, NC, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
4, (2), Alan McCallum, Houston, TX, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
5, (8), Stuart Rettie, Houston, TX, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
6, (7), Jason Vinkemulder, Spring Lake, MI, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
7, (5), Dale Vandenbush, Green Bay, WI, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
8, (16), Juan R Marchand, South Haven, MI, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
9, (9), Dan McBreen, Atlanta, GA, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
10, (10), Conner Kearby, Corpus Christi, TX, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
11, (14), David VanHooser, Enid, OK, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
12, (13), Doug Nelson, Tucson, AZ, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
13, (15), Collin Kearby, Corpus Christi, TX, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
14, (1), Douglas Peterson, Bonita Springs, FL, Star Formula Mazda, 6.
DNF, (11), Sam Lockwood, Cumming, GA, Star Formula Mazda, 0.
DNF, (12), Ken De Nault, Cedar Falls, IA, Star Formula Mazda, 0.
Overall Time of Race: 39:25.943
Average Race Speed: 60.864 mph
Margin of Victory: 14.363 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:15.492
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 106.279 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #06 Juan Marchand
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-2, #87 Peterson; Laps 3-10, #23 Wills