Who Will Win: SCCA Runoffs Part 6

Chris Haldeman STU, Image by Mark Weber

Who Will Win: SCCA Runoffs Part 6

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

Who Will Win: SCCA Runoffs Part 6

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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.

We now shift gears from the Prototype classes featured in Part 5 of Who Will Win the Runoffs, and go from mild to wild with B-Spec, American Sedan and the Super Touring classes.

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!

Danny Steyn STL, Image by Clark McInnis

SUPER TOURING LITE
STL is anyone’s game this year. We’ve picked the defending Champion Danny Steyn to repeat his victory in Virginia, but the results are far from certain.

“STL has been an interesting class,” Steyn explains. “It has gone through a spate of evolution and equalization. The Hondas were given a smaller restrictor at the beginning of the year and this hurt some of their straight-line speed. But prior to that, they would utterly dominate. They have more torque and they’re about 300 to 400 pounds lighter [than the NC Miata], so they squirt out of the corners.”

Although STL is mostly populated by Mazda drivers as of late, there are several Honda drivers who are likely to play up front. Chief among these is Cliff Ira, who will be back in his Acura Integra GSR. Ira finished third last year in Sonoma. Max Gee, and 2015 STU Champion John Schmitt, have both entered in Honda Preludes.

“I can see that the Honda drivers are going to be a threat at VIR, for sure,” Steyn says. “I think this is the one track in the country where the Hondas really have a good shot because of the three fifth-gear straights.”

Another driver who could monkey wrench Steyn’s hopes for a second gold medal is Chris Haldeman. He finished third in Spec Miata at Sonoma, and he’s bringing a Honda Civic Si to Virginia for STL.

“Danny Steyn will be a consistent competitor, but I don’t think his Mazda is up to the challenge speed-wise,” Haldeman says. “Cliff Ira will also be a strong factor. VIR is a great track for the front-wheel-drive cars with power, and I know he has been testing there.”

SUPER TOURING UNDER
Chris Haldeman is planning to race STU, STL, and Spec Miata this year. He’d love to win three championships in one weekend, which hasn’t been done since the legendary Jerry Hansen achieved the feat in 1972. That’s a tall order, and we think Haldeman’s best shot for a championship is in STU. He’s been studying the competition, and he’s ready.

“I’m expecting Mike Flynn to bring a very fast BMW,” Haldeman admits. “And I’ve seen the writing on the wall. I’m expecting to see Elivan Goulart come sneaking in there in something. Probably a Lotus.”

Haldeman is mostly right. Goulart is coming, and he is bringing the Lotus, but there’s no sneaking involved. The four-time national champion wants to win again.

“This is all coming together very recently,” Goulart says. “The Lotus has been getting developed throughout the year. I’m looking forward to going out there and having a really good showing.”

Goulart knows he has to work to add another medal to his collection. “Haldeman was really quick last time I saw him at VIR,” Goulart says. “So, I think that’s going to be a really good challenge. Kevin Boehm is always up there, too, so I think it could be a three-way battle.”

Boehm anticipates a rather diverse race. “I expect to closely battle with some fast Lotus, BMW, and Honda Competitors,” he says.

A potential disruptor in the field could be Rob Huffmaster. The three-time champion is entered in a Honda S2000, which he put on the pole at the 2017 Runoffs in Indianapolis.

Be sure to watch this race. STU is always exciting, and this year you might see history being made.

John Heinricy AS, Image by Jeff Loewe

AMERICAN SEDAN
John Heinricy is the most winning active driver in SCCA, and he’s the odds-on favorite to take his 16th SCCA National Championship in American Sedan this year – he won both Touring 4 and American Sedan last year at Sonoma, and he’s ready to do it again.

Heinricy is a thinker, so we asked him how he thought the track at VIR would affect the balance of competition. “It’s a pretty technical track,” he says, “but it also has two-and-a-half straights that are very power-dominated, with some technical bits thrown between them. So, it’s not as power-dominated as Road America, but power is still a pretty big factor. That means the Mustangs are going to be very tough.”

When you think about Mustangs in American Sedan, you can’t help but think of eight-time National Champ Andy McDermid. “Yeah, we’re overdue,” McDermid says. “It looks like it should be fun, and we’ve got good turnout. I think the old players are upping their game, but there should be some new restricted prep cars in the mix.”

Heinricy agrees. “I would think that McDermid and Bryan Long would be top guys,” Heinricy states. “I also look at people who I know are spending a lot of time developing cars. I’d put Daniel Richardson in the mix real strong. The other guy I know who was doing a lot of development is Kevin Fandozzi.”

Also on our list of drivers to watch is Greg Eaton. He’s only been to the Runoffs once before, but this Mustang driver hails from Woodbridge, Va., so he knows the VIR circuit as well as anyone.

David Daughtery BS, Image by Jeff Loewe

B-SPEC
David Daughtery has 10 national championships to his credit; two of them are in B-Spec, plus a couple more podium finishes. Now living close to VIR, he’s a prohibitive favorite to win. “I will be at the front,” he says. “Absolutely.”

From anyone else, that might sound like arrogance. But Daughtery is well known as an affable racer, so it’s really just an observation of a plain fact. It’s no different than noting the color of the sky.

“The car’s very good,” Daughtery adds. “I’m going to go back in September and do a little more cool-weather testing just to refine everything a little bit.”

Asked to evaluate the competition, Daughtery knows who’s coming and what they’re bringing. “It’s going to be interesting because the old Mini has got a header now, and Alex Ratcliffe was very fast in testing. John Phillips was right there, too. Riley Salyer was also running really well but the Mazda 2 still doesn’t quite have enough to run up front. He may make a car switch before the Runoffs. I also think Frank Schwartz will be a player, and Fritz Wilke in the Ford should be strong.

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