RACE: Valvoline Runoffs: Friday morning championship races

By N. Schilke - Motorsport.com Mid-Ohio - September 21, 2001 - Friday dawned cloudy in the early morning and during the warm-up sessions, the rain came. The first race CSR was in very wet conditions. Jacek Mucha took the early lead at the...

By N. Schilke - Motorsport.com

Mid-Ohio - September 21, 2001 - Friday dawned cloudy in the early morning and during the warm-up sessions, the rain came. The first race CSR was in very wet conditions. Jacek Mucha took the early lead at the green but it didn't take long for Ben Beasley to move up to the front. Outside of the cars that slid off onto the grass and into barriers, the top three settled into a pace of staying on the track -- Beasley, Mucha and Tim Dunn. On lap 8, Dunn started to challenge Mucha for second place until he spun. However, Dunn was determined and caught Mucha again and made the pass for second place. On the 14th lap, Mucha retook the position and going into turn seven, Dunn had another spin giving himself a lot of ground to cover again. Dunn made up the ground to challenge for the second position in the last three laps. Today was not Dunn's day as spun on the final lap. Beasley ran a good race and was careful when lapping slower cars and took the checker flag for his third ('98, '99' '01) National Championship. "A little tight to begin with but once out in front, it was better. Car ran good and I just kept it on the track as the conditions were slippery," said Beesley on his win.

Top three CSR: Beasley, Neohio Region; Mucha, Florida Region; Dunn, Neohio Region.
Beesley commented that he has never ran a race at the runoffs in dry conditions. On his start where he was able to take the lead in a five-car challenge, he said, "Familiar with the track and the rain line." Dunn had four spins during the race -- "Car was super loose. I had to deal with it. Team told me after I climbed out of the car that my rear wing was loose," stated Dunn with no idea when it came loose. Mucha said, "Goodyear tires were great in the rain. Had one moment when an engine cover from a competitor came flying at me and I had to slow down to avoid it. Thought it was an entire car to begin with."

The second race of the day, GP, started under skies that were showing signs of sunshine streaking through. Even without the rain coming down, the drivers still had wet spots on the track in every turn and on the back straight. Tom Reichenbach took the lead with Kevin Allen and Fritz Costley right on the tail of the Fiat. The three-way battle for first continued for the first two laps until Allen fell out. At the same time, Reichenbach had a problem and Costley took the lead and kept it for nine laps. Past the halfway point, Kent Prather took the lead from Costley. Reichenbach had moved back up to the front and was sitting third. The last several laps had even more changes as Jeff Winter moved up to take the lead going into turn one passing both Prather and Reichenbach and was able to pull away as the two of them were passing one another. Costley was sitting in fourth. Checker flag came out to give Winter his first National Championship.

Top three GP: Winter, Colorado Region; Reichenbach, Detroit Region; Prather, Kansas Region.
On the first win for Datsun since 1982, Jeff said, "The club did a good job of combining different models into classes and the old B-Sedan Datsun is a perfect fit in GP. I have a lot of fun with this old car (second 510 he has owned) for the past ten years. It was treacherous during the wet but once the track was drying, my intermidates came in and I just kept passing cars until I caught Kent and Tom and drafted them down the front straight and took the lead in turn one." "I watched the radar and made the decision to have Goodyear prepare intermidates for me prior to the race start," said Reichenbach. About the battle with Costley and Prather during the race and then suddenly fading back, Reichenbach said, "The guys in the rain took off and when the rain let up, I just picked the wrong line going into turn one and looped it. I was able to come back and picked off Fritz and then was getting ready to set-up to pass Kent when I looked in my mirrors and saw "Red" (refering to Winter)." Prather's comments were, "Had on full rains and the tires stuck like glue in the rain Had a good lead but backed off a bit and suddenly there they were."

Final race of the morning group was F500. In complete sunshine and dry track, the green flag fell and Elivan Goulart took the lead with five to six competitors right behind him moving like little bees from track position. Thomas Edwards ended up back in seventh and worked his way to second before he and a lapped car got together and went off. Jeff Jorgenson was now sitting in second by himself after an earlier battle with Edwards. Jim Schultz and Calvin Stewart had a great battle during the entire race. Goulart lead from lap one to the checker flag.

Top three F500: Goulart, New England Region; Jorgenson, California Sports Car Club Region; Stewart, Detroit Region.
"On the first lap, turn one, I got a bit sideways in a wet patch but gathered it up and from then on drove a smooth, clean race. Saw Edwards and Jeff behind me but with the battle they had, I was able to pull out a lead," said first time National Champion Goulart. He continued, "The race was a clean start and I had questions on the track conditions plus we were all on slicks." Jorgenson's comments, "We had a dry track and the race outside of my battle with Tom, for me, was uneventful. I tried to put pressure on Edwards and I would get him, he got me until I finally got by and was able to pull away a bit." "My battle with Schultz was the entire race and by the last lap, we had a major battle going side-by-side. I nipped him at the end," said Stewart. "The fight with Jim was the most fun I had in a while."

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Series SCCA