RACE: Valvoline Runoffs: Saturday afternoon championship races

By N. Schilke - Motorsport.com Mid-Ohio - Saturday, September 22, 2001 - Sunshine, warm temperatures and lots of spectators greeted the afternoon races for bragging rights for the next year. AS Race 12: Forty cars took the green flag and...

By N. Schilke - Motorsport.com

Mid-Ohio - Saturday, September 22, 2001 - Sunshine, warm temperatures and lots of spectators greeted the afternoon races for bragging rights for the next year.

AS Race 12:
Forty cars took the green flag and going into the esses, cars everywhere. Andy McDermid escaped along with Kent Biddinger to take the lead. Several laps of good clean racing until Biddinger developed a motor problem and pulled off. That left last year's champion a nice lead and an easy cruise. Meantime Richard Ciochon went after Kelly Lubash and after more good clean racing, Ciochon took second. Lubash got challenged by Joseph Trapani next while the rest of the field was sliding off the slippery track or having motor problems. McDermid took the checker for his back-to-back National Championship.

Top three AS: McDermid, Western Michigan Region; Ciochon, San Francisco Region; Lubash, New England Region.

"Goodyear tires were incredible. Motor problems for Kent gave me breathing space," said McDermid as the first repeat winner this year. "Lots of oil on track -- slippery but I had a good race -- easy to driver the car," said the winner. When asked about the ability to drive these cars, McDermid said, Have to be smooth and stay on line. These cars are unforgiving when you fall off your marks." Second place finisher had a radio problem and had no idea of his position on track, "Radio wasn't working so I didn't know where I was. Knew I was somewhere in the front." "Car was perfect -- could place it anywhere i wanted. This is my first time on the podium," said Ciochon. First time on the podium for Lubash as well, he said, "The car kept getting slippery as the race went on -- my Goodyear tires kept me going -- and helped me to hold off the challenge from Joe."

SSB Race 13:
J Randolph Saucier held off challenges from the get-go to win the race. Good battles took place behind him; especially the one between eventual second place finisher, David Roush, and T.C. Kline until Kline had to give it up. Eric Morehouse kept himself out of trouble and avoided any pitfalls to bring it home third.

Top three SSB: Saucier, Oklahoma Region; Roush, Ohio Valley; Morehouse, California Region.

FP Race 14:
The race no one wants to win or finish -- the most dramatic race so far of the weekend. Steve Sargis takes the early race just to have engine problems on lap seven. Rick Haynes took over the lead and spun in the keyhole. Joe Huffaker takes the lead with Harold Flescher right behind him until Flescher parked it. In the meantime, Peter Morton's engine blew big time while several others spun, went off or developed problems. Daniel Snow moves up into third and then spun to give the position over to Mark Irwin. Huffaker kept it on the track ahead of last year's champion, Bill Niermeyer. Huffaker took his sixth National Championship (five of them in FP and one in GT5).

Top three FP: Huffaker, San Francisco Region; Niermeyer, Cincinnati Region; Mark Irwin, East Tennessee Region.

"Whole plan was to catch the leaders with perseverance and patience," said Huffaker. "I had on harder compound Goodyears and they make you work harder and when you work harder, you go faster." Niermeyer talked about the race that no one wanted to win. He said, "I come around a turn to see someone sideways or off the track. Follower Harold most of the race. Knew I couldn't catch him, so I just sat back and had a boring race since I had no one to race against." "I did have a great drive -- car was perfect. My family was cheering me on and my wife was giving me my pit signals," said Niermeyer. On his battle with Eddie Beal, Irwin commented, "It was nose-to-tail for a long time. I had him in the curves and he had me on the straightaways. Got the position with a little luck." All the drivers commenting on the slippery track on the straightaway and the keyhole. "Lots of cars were capable of winning. It was a good, clean start," said Niermeyer.

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Series SCCA