Steve Introne of Windham, NH had a plan to win the B-Spec championship at the 59th SCCA National Championship Runoffs — taking place Sept. 24-Oct. 2 at Virginia International Raceway — in the No. 12 VeloceEng/Black Hog Beer/BosMblTire MINI Cooper. And, it worked.
Introne’s plan involved a partnership with second-place finisher Richard Hromin of Stroudsburg, PA. Hromin’s No. 11 RP Performance/Performance Autowork MINI Cooper was well-matched to Introne’s. Working together, Introne claimed the Tire Rack Pole Award, while Hromin qualified in second place on VIR’s 3.27-mile, 18-turn circuit.
Behind the two MINIs on the grid sat 10-time Runoffs winner and B-Spec defending champion David Daughtery of McCordsville, IN, in the No. 1 Bill Black Racing Chevrolet Sonic. Outside in fourth position was the No. 7 Team Effort Motorsports Mazda2 of Matt Wolfe, from Waterford, MI.
As the 30 B-Spec competitors took the green flag on the second of three Hagerty Race Days, Daughtery ran for the outside to pass the leading MINIs, but couldn’t get it done as Introne and Hromin hooked up and began executing their plan. The two drivers stuck together and used the increased speed and double length of their cars to make passing difficult on VIR’s long straights and technical turns.
“That was the plan,” Hromin said. “I raced Spec Miata for a long time. The way I always look at it is that I’m going to push whoever’s in front of me until we have a nice gap, then I’m going to race for the win.”
“I’m a Spec Racer guy,” Introne replied. “We’re used to running close, having to have partners. So on the test days, we went to see whether we were faster with Rich [Hromin] in front or me in front. We were both faster with me in front. That’s what we wanted to do, and it worked out.”
Daughtery came out of the opening lap in fourth place, behind Riley Salyer of Longview, TX, in the No. 22 MSR Houston/HandsOnDrivingAcademy Mazda2. Salyer had charged up from eighth place at the start. Daughtery found his way around the Mazda on the second lap, and began dogging Hromin, looking for an opening.
“Until the race went yellow, I had a fighting chance,” Daughtery said. “Once it went yellow, they started breathing again, and they settled down and started driving. They were hooked up!”
The yellow Daughtery mentions happened on the fourth lap, when Matt Giuffre of Chelsea, MI got sideways in his No. 52 Hawk/Flying Ghost Ford Fiesta, and rolled the car onto its roof. Giuffre got himself out of the car and was not injured in the incident, but the cleanup brought out a full course caution and a safety car for several laps.
At the restart, Hromin and Introne simply renewed their cooperation and made an impenetrable wall for Daughtery and Salyer. With drivers of this caliber, any mistake would result in a change of position, but the mistakes never came. Because of the time lost to the yellow flag, the race went to its 35-minute time limit, completing 12 of the intended 15 laps.
As the leaders approached the checkered flag, Hromin made a final charge to draft around Introne, and if the front straight were just a hundred yards longer, he might have made it. As it was, Introne claimed the victory with a margin of just 0.078 seconds, barely a bumper’s worth of distance. Daughtery finished third, with Salyer taking fourth place. Fifth place went to Dan Sheehy of Arley, AL in the No. 9 Ala Lone Wolf Racing/Phillips Race Prep MINI Cooper. The Sunoco Hard Charger award went to Blair Deffenbaugh of Sylvia, NC in the No. 87 FasterSkunk Racing/Racing for ALS Honda Fit, gaining seven positions during the race.
Introne was emotional on the podium, as his family celebrated the legacy of his late father, Robert Introne, who was a past Chairman on the SCCA Board of Directors.
“I think I cried the whole last lap after the checker,” Introne said. “My father passed last year, and my father did everything in SCCA. He was so proud last year when I got third at the Runoffs at Indy. I know upstairs he’s saying we did it even better this time.”
The top three drivers were greeted at the victory podium with a bottle of bubbly form Mazza Vineyards, the “Official Sparkling Wine” of the Runoffs.
The 59th SCCA National Championship Runoffs®, the Pinnacle of American Amateur Motorsports, crowns Sports Car Club of America’s Road Racing National Champions this year at VIR during Hagerty Race Days, Friday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 2.
Live, online video coverage of Runoffs races, presented by Mazda, is available throughout the three days of competition at SCCA.com/live, and at SCCA’s official YouTube and Facebook social media channels. Live timing and scoring for each race is also available at SCCA.com, along with an audio-only feed from the Super Tour Radio presented by Hoosier Racing Tire broadcast team.
Below are provisional results for Saturday’s B-Spec race at the 2022 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, and laps completed.
1, (1), Steve Introne, Windham, NH, Mini Cooper, 12.
2, (2), Richard Hromin, Stroudsburg, PA, Mini Cooper, 12.
3, (3), David Daughtery, McCordsville, IN, Chevrolet Sonic, 12.
4, (8), Riley Salyer, Longview, TX, Mazda 2, 12.
5, (11), Dan Sheehy, Arley, AL, Mini Cooper, 12.
6, (7), Alex Ratcliffe, Leesburg, VA, Mini Cooper, 12.
7, (6), Ian Schoen, Austin, TX, Mazda 2, 12.
8, (14), John Phillips, Sealy, TX, Toyota Yaris, 12.
9, (13), Corey Rueth, Manchaca, TX, Mini Cooper, 12.
10, (9), Conner Kelleher, Angleton, TX, Mini Cooper, 12.
11, (16), Stewart Black, Greensboro, NC, Chevrolet Sonic, 12.
12, (4), Matt Wolfe, Waterford, MI, Mazda 2, 12.
13, (15), Matt Downing, Canal Winchester, OH, Honda Fit, 12.
14, (21), Blair Deffenbaugh, Sylva, NC, Honda Fit, 12.
15, (17), Daniel Dennehy, Pittsburgh, PA, Honda Fit, 12.
16, (18), David Rosenblum, Mays Landing, NJ, Ford Fiesta, 12.
17, (23), J B Swan, Braintree, MA, Chevrolet Sonic, 12.
18, (20), Matthew Fess, Steamboat, CO, Mini Cooper, 12.
19, (24), Dan Hardison, Delaware, OH, Honda Fit, 12.
20, (12), Ryan Moran, Lyndhurst, VA, Mini Coupe, 12.
21, (26), Tom Hopson, Powell, OH, Honda Fit, 12.
22, (19), Anthony Ruddy, Jackson, NH, Chevrolet Sonic, 12.
23, (28), Cherie Storms, Langley, BC, Mazda 2, 12.
24, (22), Thomas Tremper, Painted Post, NY, Mini Cooper, 12.
25, (25), George Badger, Pendleton, IN, Honda Fit, 12.
26, (27), Stephanie Andersen, Racine, WI, Mazda 2, 12.
27, (5), Rob Piekarczyk, Brunswick, OH, Honda Fit, 12.
28, (29), Ryan Claucherty, Sanford, NC, Mini Cooper, 12.
29, (30), Karah Behrend, Houston, TX, Honda Fit, 12.
DNF, (10), Matt Giuffre, Chelsea, MI, Ford Fiesta, 3.
Length of Race: 39 miles
Overall Time of Race: 35:57.981 (65.461 mph)
Margin of Victory: 00.078 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: 2:23.819 (81.853 mph)
Lap Leaders: #12, Laps 1-12
Sunoco Hard Charger: #87 Blair Deffenbaugh