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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Formula 500

It’s nearly impossible to look at the Formula 500 race and not choose Clint McMahan to win. For starters, he hasn’t lost a Runoffs in four years (though he skipped the West Coast swing in 2018). To be the best, you have to beat the best, and McMahan is the pick until proven otherwise.

So, who completes the podium? Calvin Stewart is always fast and prepared, and the former champ is the likely bet to challenge McMahan. We expect him to finish with the silver medal.

We’ve got our eye on a handful of others as podium contenders. Ryan Mayfield is McMahan’s protégé, moving from sim racing to the real world and making his first Runoffs start this year. James Weida is always right there, always consistent, and ready to pounce on any mistakes.

Our pick for third is a bolder choice at first glance. Sven de Vries has made just one career Runoffs appearance, but it came at Indianapolis in 2017. He started 11th, and he then drove all the way to a runner-up finish. He has the speed to make the run, and we’ve got our eye on him to do it.

Prototype 1

The P1 class has a mix of chassis, with the Elan DP-02 being an odds-on favorite – especially considering the drivers behind the wheel. Regardless, the one to watch is last year’s Runoffs champion James French, who is piloting a fendered Swift 014.a – the one he won with last year. He has raced for his father Brian’s team for years, and his Carl Liebich-prepared cars always run up front. He had a memorable win at the June Sprints this year, too, threading his way from last through a field of P1s and Atlantics.

“Our team has put a ton of work into developing this package, and I am confident that the performance we found will carry over to Indy,” French tells us. “The competition has been quite good and the closest battle I’ve had was with Chip Romer.”

Indeed, Chip Romer has proven to be French’s strongest competitor, and he has notched a number of wins, including the Saturday go at the June Sprints. He will continue to be a thorn in French’s side, and if French falters, Romer will be there for the win.

Other Elans in the picture include those of Todd Vanacore, John McAleer, and Darryl Shoff, all of whom have Hoosier Super Tour wins.

Lee Alexander has the fastest Stohr at the moment. Jim Devenport is, as usual, the joker in the mix. He has two Runoffs championships driving the Norma, but this year he also has an Elan DP-02 at his disposal – it is anticipated that he will test both and select whichever proves faster.

Prototype 2

In the P2 race, our pick is for Tim Day to continue his winning ways. Day was first in 2018, second last year, and is always in the hunt – we expect no less in Indianapolis. And, to that end, Day has been working on improvements. “In the off season, we embarked on a major development project,” Day reports. “We switched from the Hayabusa motor to a modern 2017-’21 Suzuki 1L GSX-R in our Stohr WF-1. Running the smaller motor allows us to remove 150lbs. We saw no reduction in lap times at Road America [which he won], but it is still early in the development process. Nevertheless, I have increased confidence in the car.”

Image by Jeff Loewe

Day’s opposition is deep this year, with several drivers hoping to take the gold. Day sees last year’s champion Greg Gyann as his toughest competitor. “Greg and his team have evolved and have raised the bar,” says Day. “He was the first to take the leap and switch to the Suzuki 1L Gixxer in the Stohr. It has worked for him.”

Our pick for second is a bit out of the ordinary. Bob Iverson is running a Ligier JS49 and has been fast. The Ligier has great acceleration and approaches P1 top speeds on the long straights. He has been knocking at the door and may walk through at Indy.

Tray Ayres has shown himself to be a front-runner in his move up to the P2 class, includingthe 2019 title. He has an Elan DP-02 and it would not be surprising to see him add a second P2 gold medal to the SRF3 gold medal he won at Indy in 2017.

Meanwhile, Lucian Pancea has dogged Day’s heels the last couple years. Day has a lot of respect for his talent and says that Pancea is an experienced driver who “has raced me very hard and clean at the June Sprints. He is very competitive, and I’d expect no less at the Runoffs.”

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