This week, the Sports Car Club of America’s premier winner-take-all road race, the National Championship Runoffs, kicked into high gear at Road America. There, some 600 drivers will battle in 26 classes in the hopes of becoming one of the select few who can call themselves an SCCA National Champion. Most will fall short. However, thanks to SportsCar magazine, SCCA’s official publication, and its annual Runoffs predictions, it’s possible to get some insight into who to watch in each class when the races take the green this weekend, running from Friday, Oct. 9, to Sunday, Oct. 11.
The Runoffs event schedule can be found here, and SCCA will stream all 26 races live on SCCA.com.
In this installment of our multi-part Runoffs preview, we take an inside look at SCCA’s Formula classes, namely Formula Atlantic, Formula Continental, Formula X, Formula 500, Formula F, and Formula Vee to see who could become SCCA’s next national champions.
SportsCar magazine totally missed this pick. To be fair, when they printed their Runoffs predictions in the October issue, they had no clue Flinn Lazier would enter Formula Atlantic. Had they known, the magazine’s editor assures us he would have been the pick to win.
As it is, though, SportsCar’s choice of Hans Peter to win is a solid one that very well could happen, although it won’t be an easy run for either of them with the likes of Spencer Brockman and Lee Alexander nipping at their heals.
Robert Armington is having a strong year in Formula Continental. He was the class of the field at the June Sprints and should be hard to beat come October. He has also not over complicated his strategy to end on the podium: “Qualify well, get out to the pointy end of the group, and stay out of trouble,” he says.
Rob Allaer has won before, and is unlucky not to have more wins. He is always a threat and may well be the biggest challenge that Armington will have to face this year, although Brandon Dixon is showing tremendous speed.
And, while it’s unlikely he’ll be contending for the win this year, a wild card is Michael Varacins. The seven-time FV champion has slowly become more competitive in FC and we feel it’s only a matter of time before he breaks out in this class, too.
While Formula X is a new class to the Runoffs, for all intents and purposes this year, it’s Formula Mazda under a different name. At the time of this writing, all of the entries are FM Star Mazda cars.
Moses Smith has always sparkled in FM and this may be the year that he takes the top step, although early Runoffs qualifying sessions show he’s got a long row to hoe. Jason Vinkenmulder and Jarret Voorheis will certainly be in the mix, but one to watch this year is Jacob Loomis.
Clint McMahan doesn’t want the honor of being our Formula 500 prediction to win, but when you line up his last Runoffs appearances – a win at VIR, a win at Indy, a pole at Daytona (though bad luck sunk his race early), and a runner-up at Laguna – it’s hard to go anywhere else.
McMahan did list a whole host of potential contenders, though – and it’s a strong list. Calvin Stewart and James Weida are class stalwarts that have a proven track record and made our podium prediction, but McMahan think Eric McCree will surprise some.
“He showed a lot of promise at VIR and made some rookie mistakes, but nonetheless he was fast,” points out McMahan.
When the Formula F field takes the green flag at Road America, the finishing order is always up in the air. But as of late, the Formula F front pack has seen a slew of youngsters slicing and dicing for the coveted SCCA National Championship title. So, who do we think will win in 2020? Veteran racer Tim Kautz.
Bob Perona loves Road America and Jeffrey Bartz landed on the podium before the Runoffs left Road America the last time and has a lot of laps on his home track. Keep an eye on both of them.
Others to watch include Jonathan Kotyk, Max Mallinen, and 19-year-old Simon Sikes.
Last year’s Runoffs at VIR saw an epic battle with the brothers Whitston, Andrew and Zachary, and Hunter Phelps-Barron at the end, and 2020 could see a rematch. But they’re not the only ones who will be fighting for the win in this increasingly difficult class. Expect Andrew Abbott to be in the mix, as well as Whitston’s dad, Ron.
The only way to sort this out is to put them all on the track and see where the chips fall. But you’re here for a bold prediction, so here’s where we think this lands: Having a brother as a drafting partner is an advantage at Road America. With that in mind, we think it will be Zach’s year to turn the tables on Andrew, but a shove up the front straight from his brother puts Andrew Abbott in between the two.
Although, we could be wrong.