Who will win the 2021 SCCA Runoffs at Indy?

Jeff Loewe

Who will win the 2021 SCCA Runoffs at Indy?

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

Who will win the 2021 SCCA Runoffs at Indy?

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Super Touring Under

As mentioned, 2020 STL champion Joe Moser has taken his winning car to STU, where he previously won the 2016 National Championship.

“We had heard over and over again that winning STU would take big money,” Moser says, “and that small displacement, naturally aspirated cars didn’t have a chance. After running through countless lap simulations to estimate what a small-displacement, front-drive CRX could do, we decided we had a chance. Chad LeBeau and King Motorsports put together a killer B20-VTEC engine, we bolted it into the STL CRX, and headed down to Florida in the winter to try it out. It was a huge success at Sebring and Homestead, with two new track records and huge smiles on my end.”

Drivers who will be there to compete with Moser include a laundry list of STU contenders, which includes the likes of Eric Heinrich, who is once again trying his hand at small-displacement STU performance in his E30 M3.

“My old friend Kip VanSteenburg is always a rocket and is bringing back his championship-winning Porsche 944 S2,” Moser adds. “I’ve never raced against Chip Herr personally, but my King Motorsports colleagues vouch for his driving skills and top-notch car. I hope to see David Fiorelli, our 2020 STU pole winner, too. Finally, you have the huge South Florida STU contingent. Our 2020 champion Paul Azan, Jorge Ortiz, and Jose Pena tend to lead the pack from this group and will absolutely be threats to win it all.”

Touring 1

A lesser driver might have shrugged his shoulders and walked away after twice snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. But 10-time SCCA National Champion Andrew Aquilante likes his chances of claiming title number 11 – it would be his sixth in Touring 1 – at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this fall.

Image by Jeff Loewe

Aquilante was en route to that sixth T1 title in a wet Runoffs race at VIR two years ago when a timing chain broke on the final lap, handing the win to class arch-rival Mark Boden. In the lead again at Road America last fall, a tie rod broke on lap 10, with Boden once more capitalizing on Aquilante’s misfortune.

“Yes, OK, I was leading the past two years,” Aquilante explains. “However, one race was in the wet and in the other race, Mark [Boden] was all over me and had the superior car but couldn’t make it happen. It’s one of those things: We’re fighting with less horsepower, more weight, less tire, [but] we’re still in the front.”

Aquilante has prioritized his GT-2 effort this summer, spending only a minimal amount of time in his familiar Phoenix Performance Ford Mustang. Indy, though, with its challenging infield, was the site of his most recent T1 championship in 2017, and he likes his chances, although there is no overlooking his Fall-Line Motorsports challengers, who SportsCar’s editorial team has picked to fill out the T1 podium:

“Mark’s BMW M3 will be very strong, and Tim [Kezman] will be pretty strong as well,” Aquilante says. “Tim doesn’t have as much time in the car as Mark, but that car in the hands of anybody – as we saw last year with Tom, who hopped in it at the last minute for the Runoffs – it’s a strong car. I don’t expect there to be anyone showing up out of left field like what we had at Sonoma.”

Touring 2

In T2, T1 front-runner Andrew Aquilante likes Phoenix Performance teammate Kurt Rezzetano’s chances as much as SportsCar’s editors who placed him just above the Fall-Line pair in their Who Will Win the Runoffs? estimation.

“This year, clearly, it was a level playing field for the V8 cars [like ours],” says Aquilante. “We feel a lot better.”

Rezzetano, who has a pair of T2 National Championship titles, will be chased by a trio of six-cylinder, Fall-Line Porsches driven by Mark and Joe Boden, plus Tim Kezman. Mark is the defending T2 champ, taking over a recovering-from-injury Kezman’s Porsche 996 and claiming a popular Runoffs victory on his home track, Road America – a win made even more memorable for son Joe, the third-place finisher, joining him on the podium.

Of the 20-plus T2 racers set to take to the track, there are quite a few who could nose into the action – like Charlie Peter, who put his BMW in second place at last year’s Runoffs. In fact, we’d be shocked if he didn’t prove our podium prediction wrong.

Touring 3

Marshall Mast, the third Phoenix Performance driver picked by SportsCar this year to win a Touring class, has never missed a podium finish in his four Runoffs appearances. Indeed, the Narvon, Pa., native made it almost look easy at Road America last fall, qualifying on the pole and outrunning nearest challenger Jason Ott into Turn 1 twice – once at the start and again on the restart after a long mid-race red flag – to claim his second National Championship crown.

Image by Jeff Loewe

Indy is quite a different challenge than Road America, though, and Coloradoan Ott’s nimble BMW Z4 should give Mast’s potent Ford Mustang a real run – and with six top-five Runoffs finishes to his name, Ott is gunning for more.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on ex-EP and STL Mazda driver Breton Williams. Sixth in last year’s Runoffs, the Iowan is a serious dark-horse pick.

Touring 4

A fourth 2021 Touring National Championship for Phoenix Performance? Possibly, as evergreen, 74-year-old, 15-time National Champ John Heinricy once again will park his Toyota 86 under the Pennsylvania team’s tent. But in T4, we’re going a different route this year and selecting OPM Autosport major domo Tom Fowler to claim the gold – albeit with Heinricy on his tail.

Fowler, once noted for speed in a Honda Civic, stepped away for several years, but returned with a Mazda RX-8 in 2019 for the Runoffs at VIR and was an immediate T4 frontrunner. Note that Fowler’s Georgia-based OPM Autosports team also includes Danny Steyn, our pick to win both Spec Miata and STL, and this year Fowler has entered T4 in an NC MX-5 – the same chassis Steyn runs.

Meanwhile, we anticipate that Chi Ho will turn a disappointing 2020 run into a podium finish this year. Ho was fast at the 2017 Runoffs at Indy, but we’re unsure if his heavier BMW will be able to keep pace with the nimble 86s and MX-5s in the long run.

E Production

Jesse Prather is pretty confident, and he has reason to be. He has, after all, won every race he’s entered in his BMW Z3 for the past two seasons. On top of that, Prather is an excellent driver, and his BMW is incredibly reliable. But a win at the Runoffs is not going to be easy.

Image by Jeff Loewe

Three-time EP champion Matt Reynolds and two-time EP podium finisher John Hainsworth are incredibly fast and consistent, and they were on the podium with Prather last year. Then factor in that past EP National Champ Jon Brakke is entered with a BMW Z3 sporting a Prather-built engine.

Bill Lamkin will be there driving a BMW 328, while past Formula Mazda champion Mike Anderson will be wheeling a BMW 325is. And then Peter Norton could also factor into the equation in his Caterham.

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