RACE: National Runoffs: Race day two report

Eight More Champions Crowned At Mid-Ohio SCCA Runoffs LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 24, 2004) -- Eight more Champions were crowned Saturday at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. For the ...

Eight More Champions Crowned At Mid-Ohio SCCA Runoffs

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 24, 2004) -- Eight more Champions were crowned Saturday at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. For the second-straight day, the sun was shining, track records were broken and both new and former champions took home the gold.

Of note, John Heinricy, of Holly, Mich., became the first driver since Jerry Hansen in 1976 to win back-to-back Championships in two classes. Heinricy, who captured his fourth-consecutive Touring 1 Championship on Friday, added his second-straight in American Sedan on Saturday.

Additionally, two drivers earned the SCCA Chicago Region Triple Crown, awarded to drivers winning the June Sprints®, their Divisional Championship and the Runoffs National Championship. John Fergus, of Powell, Ohio, and Brian Tomasi, of Elgin, Ill., won the Triple Crown in Sports 2000 and Formula Continental, respectively.

A recap of the day's action:

Race Nine, Sports 2000: John Fergus, of Powell, Ohio, captured his fourth National Championship Saturday, taking the Sports 2000 class win at the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Steve Johnson, of Deerfield, N.H., and Mark Mercer, of Aurora, Colo., completed the top-three.

Driving the No. 00 Hoosier Tires Carbir CS2, Fergus captured the SCCA Chicago Region Triple Crown with the win. Starting second, Fergus took the lead at the start entering the esses. Pushing his car to the limit, he immediately pulled away from the rest of the field. Running unchallenged, Fergus posted the fastest laps of the race, setting a new lap record of 1:26.680 (93.779 mph). At the checkered flag, Fergus had captured the National Championship by 2.84 seconds and an average speed of 90.798 mph.

"I think that the whole field had to raise their game because of last year," said Fergus, who won his Division Championship and the June Sprints to complete the Triple Crown. "I was sick during the week and did not qualify as fast as I could. But today I felt great. I knew I was capable of really going fast. I just ran every lap as hard as I could."

Nicholas Johnson, of Cromwell Newark, UK, finished fourth, and Marc Walker, of Oldsmar, Fla., completed the top-five.

Race 10, Touring 2: Mark Sandridge, of Westfield Center, Ohio, captured his second-consecutive National Championship in the Touring 2 class Saturday, and gave Cadillac its first-ever win at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Rob Hines, of Arlington, Va., and Freddy Baker, of Bedford, Ohio, completed the top three.

The race began with second place starter Toby Grahovec getting a jump in his Dodge SRT-4 over polesitter Don Knowles' Cadillac CTS-V. Grahovec slid wide heading into the Carousel complex on the first lap, but never lifted and rejoined the track in the middle of the Carousel, hitting Jordan Sandridge's Cadillac upon re-entry. Sandridge's car was sent into a series of barrel rolls and landed upside down on the tire wall. Sandridge was uninjured, but the incident brought out a lengthy caution.

At the restart, Knowles held the point, but John Fernandez was right on his bumper in a Dodge SRT-4 until lap 16, when he made an inside move in turn one. The two bumped side-by-side, and Knowles' Cadillac went spinning off to the outside. Fernandez recovered, but not until T.C. Kline's Nissan 350Z was able to move inside. The two bumped in the keyhole and Kline took the lead. Fernandez loosened Kline over the top of the Esses and re-took the advantage, only to be nudged off at the bottom of the Esses.

That opened the door for Sandridge to become the fourth leader on the lap, but Baker took the lead in his Porsche Boxster in the Carousel. One lap later, Sandridge was back into the lead in the Keyhole, and Hines worked his Chevrolet Camaro into second on the final lap of the race. Sandridge won by 0.623-secon, averaging 63.841 mph in a race shortened to 19 laps due to a 40-minute time limit.

"It was an emotional race," said Sandridge. "I was coming into the Carousel on the first lap when I saw Toby [Grahovec] off in the weeds. He never lifted and came back on course right into the side of [son] Jordan. I saw Jordan roll but went around the corner and didn't see anything else. I called my crew and told them to get down there and see how he was. I came around the next lap and saw the car upside down. I was really worried. Finally my crew called and told me he was OK, and then they put him on the radio. It was a big relief. When the restart came, I could go racing. If the race had been any longer Freddy [Baker] would have won. I don't think that I could have held him off for one more lap. My tires were shot."

Fernandez, of Rochester, Mich., and Grahovec, of Palos Park, Ill., completed the unofficial top five.

Race 11, Formula 500: Douglas Marsh, of Eastlake, Ohio, captured his first National Championship Saturday, taking the Formula 500 class win at the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Jonathan Dick, of Columbus, Ohio, and Aaron Ellis, of Indianapolis, Ind., completed the top-three.

Driving the No. 22 Rocketech Motorsports Rocketech R2, Marsh held off several challenges to capture his first Runoffs win. Leading the field to the green flag as the polesitter for the second consecutive year, Marsh got a good jump to hold on to the top spot. Racing in close formation, Marsh relinquished the lead on lap five to Brian Novak, before retaking the position on lap 11. The following lap, Novak retired from the race, allowing Marsh to run uncontested to the finish, winning by 5.682 seconds and an average speed of 81.873 mph.

"The surface was tough on tires," said Marsh. "I elected to follow the leader early on, then his motor went. The race came to me. My strategy went very well. It was a great race."

Jason Morales, of Hundington Station, N.Y., finished fourth, and Michael Brent, of Bethel, Con., completed the top-five.

Race 12, D Sports Racing: John Hill, of Seattle, Wash., captured his first-career National Championship Saturday, winning the D Sports Racing class race at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler. Steve Ott, of Brighton, Colo., and Al Beasley Jr., of Newbury, Ohio, completed the top three.

Starting from the pole position in his No. 6 Loynings Engine Service Stohr DSR, Hill got the jump over fellow front row starter Ott's Speads RS04 at the green flag. However, Ott dogged Hill in the early stages of the race, and made several bids to take the lead at the end of the back straight. On lap 8, Ott seemed to make the pass stick, but the two appeared to make contact at the top of the Esses, with Ott spinning back to third. From there, Hill was able to cruise to his first-ever National Championship, the third-consecutive for that particular chassis.

Ott was able to move past Beasley Jr. to regain second. Hill won the race by 7.132 seconds, averaging 93.116 mph.

"This is the same car in which I had a major accident this year," said Hill. "The car had to be completely rebuilt, and this is the first race since the crash. It is as good as new. There was a lot of traffic today and it was difficult getting through some of it. Steve [Ott] and I went into the esses pretty hard, we got together a bit and he went off. I can't say I was disappointed."

Matt Direnzo, of Medford, N.J., and Michael Reupert, of Hubertus, Wis., completed the top three.

Race 13, American Sedan: John Heinricy, of Holly, Mich., captured his seventh National Championship Saturday, taking the American Sedan class win at the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Matthew Roberts, of Torrington, Conn., and Kristain Smith, of Brighton, Mich., completed the top-three.

Driving the No. 54 Tom Aquilante Racing/Goodyear Pontiac Firebird, Heinricy for the second consecutive year won two National Championship in the same SCCA Runoffs. Caught out at the start, Heinricy fell back to third at the drop of the green flag. Racing nose-to-tail, he moved into second place on lap five. On the following lap, Heinricy, Smith and Andrew McDermid all made contact in the esses, with Heinricy able to continue in second place. Steadily catching Kyle Watkins, he passed for the lead on lap 14 exiting Thunder Valley. Unchallenged, Heinricy crossed the start/finish winning by 7.064 seconds and an average speed of 80.179 mph.

"Kyle [Watkins] got a great start and got the lead," said Heinricy, who won the T1 National Championship on Friday. "I was afraid of his getting away, but the race actually came back to me. After I took the lead I got tapped in the Carousel. I was sideways and thought that I had lost it. I put it into third gear and the rear tires bit and I was able to get it pointed straight."

Chris Billings, of Portland, Ore., finished fourth, and McDermid, of Grand Ledge, Mich., completed the top-five.

Race 14, E Production: Pratt Cole, of Salt Lake City, Utah, captured his third-career National Championship Saturday, winning the E Production class race at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler. Tony Rivera, of Littleton, Colo., and John Schmitt, of Sunbury, Ohio, completed the top three.

Starting from the pole position in his No. 9 Western Companies Mazda Miata, Cole led flag-to-flag, fending off second qualifier Tom Thrash, of Houston, Texas, early and Rivera in the closing stages of the race. Cole averaged 73.360 mph in his 4.001-second victory. The win is his third, also taking Championships in 1997 and 2001.

"I'd like to believe I could have checked out, but that wasn't going to happen," said Cole. "When the pace car came out [to remove 2003's top two finishers Jon Brakke and Grayson Upchurch from the gravel trap in the esses], I was sad to see the lead go away. My spotters were telling me 'two seconds' and I was talking to them and they said 'shut up and drive,'so I tried to do my best to do that. I knew Tony [Rivera] was coming. Fortunately I was able to maintain a pace and stay in front of the problems."

Rivera was at the tail end of a three-car battle for second, when Dave Lemon, of Signal Hill, Calif., and Thrash came together and spun on lap 14 of 20, allowing him to move up in his Mazda RX-7. Schmitt started eighth, but stayed out of trouble to finish third in his Honda Prelude.

Bob Neal, of Harbor City, Calif., and Ken Kannard, of East Troy, Wis., completed the top five.

Race 15, GT-3: Pete Peterson, of Lumberton, N.C., captured his fifth National Championship Saturday, taking the GT-3 class at the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Michael Cyphert, of Burton, Ohio, and David Rugh, of Portland, Ore., completed the top-three.

Driving the No. 98 Toyota Motorsports/Valvoline Toyota Celica, Peterson worked his way through the field to capture the win. Maintaining his starting position in the opening laps, Peterson capitalized on incidents to move forward as the race progressed. Following a full-course caution, Peterson attacked Mike Henderson for the lead on lap nine. Running nose-to-tail, the duo made contact on lap 12, with Peterson taking the lead. Once in front, Peterson never relinquished the lead, winning by 6.434 seconds and an average speed of 78.758 mph.

"The first three laps, my car had a miss in it," said Peterson. "Fortunately, everybody was going slow because they were on cold tires. After about three laps, the miss went away and I was able to start getting through. I thought it was going to be tough from where I was starting, and it was.

"Henderson was all over the place. We went down the hill and he moved way over to the left, and I was passing him and he clobbered me. It broke the front wheel and the front end of the car came off when I stopped."

Richard Bushley, of Va., finished fourth, and Craig Allen, of Fenton, Mich., completed the top five.

Race 16, Formula Continental: Brian Tomasi, of Elgin, Ill., captured his first National Championship Saturday, taking the Formula Continental class at the 2004 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Dave Weitzenhof, of Bath, Ohio, and Mark Defer, of Streetsboro, Ohio, completed the top three.

Driving the No. 96 Hoosier/RMX/Nova/Subway Van Diemen RF01, Tomasi led every lap en route to his first-ever Runoffs win. Starting on pole, after setting a new lap record on Tuesday, Tomasi got a great jump to maintain the lead at the start. Showing great car control, Tomasi steadily began to pull away from second place in the openings laps. As the race progressed, Tomasi continued to build his lead as the field began to spread out. Setting a new lap record of 1:24.667 (96.009), Tomasi cruised to the checkered flag, winning by 9.51 seconds with an average speed of 86.687 mph.

"All I wanted to do in my career was to win the [Road America] June Sprints and the Runoffs," said Tomasi, who captured the SCCA Chicago Region Triple Crown with the win. "Now I have done both in the same year. I got a very good start and was able to pull away. I was nervous about things before the race. I thought it would be a battle but when I got a great start it made the difference. I think that my tires worked better today in the cooler temperatures than Dave's [Weitzenhof] did."

Rick Silver, of Derwood, Md., finished fourth, and Chas Shaffer, of Catlett, Va., completed the top-five.

-scca-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers John Heinricy , Jason Morales , John Fernandez , Jordan Sandridge , Chris Billings , John Fergus , John Schmitt , Pratt Cole , Tony Rivera , Michael Reupert , Al Beasley Jr. , Jon Brakke , Tom Thrash , Ken Kannard , Michael Cyphert , Mike Henderson , Brian Tomasi , Pete Peterson , Mark Sandridge , Toby Grahovec , Douglas Marsh , Don Knowles , Steve Johnson , Steve Ott , Kyle Watkins