The Sports Car Club of America National Championship Runoffs is the winner-take-all title fight for SCCA Road Racing glory. For 2019, this on-track battle has wound its way to the northeast, where it will pit racers against one of the best racetracks around: VIRginia International Raceway. Who will rise to the top and claim Runoffs gold? We’ll find out for sure when the green flags fly on Oct. 11-13; for now, though, all we can do is guess. As it turns out, guessing is a specialty here at SportsCar magazine – and we will be sharing those guesses with you here throughout the week.
Part 3 of Who Will Win the Runoffs looked at some of the most competitive open-wheel classes in SCCA, now we take a look at the production based Touring category, which always provides tight racing.
Oh, and pro tip: Log on to scca.com/runoffs on Oct. 11-13 for live timing, plus a video stream of all the racing action as it happens!
In recent years, the battle for the T1 podium has included a runaway victory. Usually, it’s Andrew Aquilante out front by a sizeable margin. When Aquilante had an uncharacteristic mechanical failure at the Mid-Ohio Runoffs in 2016, Ross Murray was there to cruise to the win some 10 seconds clear of the field. Then, at the Sonoma Runoffs, Kristofer Olson checked out, driving to a nearly 14-second margin of victory. So, what will this year’s T1 Runoffs race hold in store? We anticipate more of the same, but with Aquilante and his Ford Mustang back at the top.
Aquilante knows how to get around VIR, and he lists the track as one of the best in the U.S. But, while we think he’ll be the class of the field, Mark Boden will be there with his BMW M3 to capitalize should the eight-time SCCA National Champion misstep.
Our prediction for third is an outright guess. Bill Baten was quick in his Chevy Camaro at the VIR Super Tour, but we think the Dodge Viper driven by Tim Myers might give the grunt needed to put him on the podium.
Cooper MacNeil is making his first Runoffs start since 2015, and with his IMSA experience at VIR to call upon, we think he’ll be tough to beat in T2. But Kurt Rezzetano is looking for redemption after a fourth-place run at Indy, followed by a bronze medal at Sonoma, although his efforts may come down to car choice. If Rezzetano finds the right steed, he could challenge MacNeil and his BMW M3 – but as Rezzetano discovered at Indy, the wrong car could most certainly spell disaster.
There is a gaggle of Porsches looking to make a run at the podium, led by Fall Line patriarch Mark Boden. Tim Kezman has had some solid finishes this year, and we think he may break through for his first visit to the podium.
If the clouds bring rain, keep an eye on Marty Grand in the Honda Civic Type R. Grand got the better of MacNeil for his first Runoffs title at Road America in 2010, and he might have the best car for a slick track.
Regardless, this race could prove to be one of the best of the 2019 Runoffs.
Marshall Mast had the fight of his life at Sonoma in T3, with Mark Drennan relentlessly hounding him for 20 laps – we expect him to have a slightly easier go of it when the green flag waves at VIR come October, and we anticipate he’ll leave with his second championship.
We’ve seen solid speed from Scotty B. White this season, perhaps the result of him cutting back on the number of classes he’s contesting, which should put him in a strong position for a podium finish. At the VIR Super Tour, his Mustang certainly handled well on those long straights.
The final step on the podium will probably go to past Runoffs winner Rob Hines, who is set to make his first title run since 2014. Should rain enter the picture, Jared Lendrum in a Subaru WRX could upset the running order, meanwhile, Broderick Bauguess (should he enter) will also be one to watch.
The T4 Runoffs race was a barnburner in 2017, with John Heinricy and Gresham Wagner little more than a car length apart throughout the duration, and Heinricy coming away with his 15th title. And, while the move to VIR will likely produce a much different Runoffs race, we give the nod to the same man: It’ll be Heinricy for his 16th Runoffs title.
Nick Leverone, however, will be hot on Heinricy’s heels with his Subaru BRZ. Heinricy will be back in the Toyota 86 that took him the winner’s circle at Sonoma, and while it may not be the most powerful car in T4, we expect it will get the job done once again.
Currently, Owen Schefer showed great speed in his Mazda RX-8 at the VIR Super Tour in April, and we expect him to be in the hunt for the final step on the podium.