Who Will Win: SCCA Runoffs Part 9

James Libecco FE, Image by Jeff Loewe

Who Will Win: SCCA Runoffs Part 9

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

Who Will Win: SCCA Runoffs Part 9

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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.

After our Production category preview in Part 8 of Who Will Win the Runoffs, we turn to the massive Spec Racer Ford 3 class, as well as the Formula Enterprises variants.

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!

Tray Ayres SRF3, Image by Clark McInnis

SPEC RACER FORD GEN3
With more than 60 entries (and counting), the competition is still certain to be fierce in SRF3 this year. Tray Ayres is one of the top East Coast drivers, but to finish first, he’ll have to carve a path around several other leaders, and he quickly reeled off a long list of drivers who could complicate his path to the podium.

Robeson Clay Russell always runs well at VIR,” Ayres says, “and Brian Schofield as well. The three of us have had epic battles at that track. Then you’ve got Bobby Sak coming from out of Division, and Cliff White. Denny Stripling was up there testing for the pro race. There’s plenty of fast guys who could end up on the pole position.”

A few others who could contend at the front include multi-time Champions Scott Rettich, as well as John Black.

Black is making the tow from California, but he’s taking a relaxed attitude. “I am just going to the race to hold onto my car number,” Black jokes. “I would put my money on Robeson Russell or Brian Schofield. Russell seems to be nearly unbeatable. Schofield loves drafting tracks and always seems to put himself in the right spot at the end. The other person I would watch is Denny Stripling. I was at the back of the lead pack at the Watkins Glen Super Tour. I watched him race, and he will be right in there.”

FORMULA ENTERPRISES
Mark Snyder is heading to Virginia to defend his 2018 championship in Formula Enterprises. Since his 2018 victory at Sonoma Raceway, the 16-year-old driver has been working hard to maintain his edge, and he’s determined to repeat his performance on the opposite coast.

“I’m going to try to go out of the gates just as hard as possible,” Snyder says. “I want to set that pace and let everyone know who is boss on the track, because me and James Libecco, I think, is what the race is really going to be.”

Libecco is our pick to take top honors this year, but Snyder doesn’t plan to easily relinquish the crown. Still, Snyder knows who he’s up against. “Libecco is a silent killer,” Snyder declares. “He’s a really talented driver, methodical, and really good at starts – I don’t understand how he’s so good at starts. He finds gaps that I can’t find. Maybe I need to put on glasses when I drive – he taught me a lot this year.”

Another driver who could make a play for the front in FE is Justin Huffman, who finished second last year. Huffman hails from Herndon, Va., and could benefit from home track advantage.

Liam Snyder FE2, Image by Mark Weber

FORMULA ENTERPRISES 2
Liam Snyder finished second in FE2 at Sonoma. That’s a respectable performance, but it’s not where he wanted to be, especially because his brother Mark won the FE championship in the same race group. This year, we think Liam Snyder has what it takes to win. The young driver has been working hard on strategy and race craft to earn the top step this time.

“I’m absolutely ready,” he declares. “I’ve been doing testing and racing in F4 this year. We’ve also done days of testing in the FE2 to get ready for Virginia.”

The race won’t be easy. The field will also include Scott Rettich, who has claimed a record six championships in FE over the years. Last year, Rettich finished third in FE2, so he will also be looking for a win.

“It’s quite a big race, right?” Snyder jokes. “One race, you get one shot. Don’t mess it up on the first lap. My strategy is to keep my head in it in the first couple of laps and hopefully just pull away.”

Other drivers who are likely to contend for the lead include Paul Schneider, who has claimed three podiums in FE, and finished fourth last year at Sonoma. Tom Burt finished fifth last year and could also work his way to a podium finish.

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