RACE: First eight champions crowned at Valvoline Runoffs

LEXINGTON, Ohio (September 21, 2001) - The first eight of 24 shootouts took place today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the 38th running of the Sports Car Club of America's Valvoline Runoffs. The weather played a major role in the eight SCCA ...

LEXINGTON, Ohio (September 21, 2001) - The first eight of 24 shootouts took place today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the 38th running of the Sports Car Club of America's Valvoline Runoffs. The weather played a major role in the eight SCCA National Championship races, as the skies couldn't decide whether to rain or shine. Drivers' were perplexed all day with car setup and tire selection.

The opening "winner-take-all," 20-lap sprint race featured the C Sports Racer class. Polesitter Ben Beasley captured his third career SCCA National Championship in wet conditions. In a race that was filled with incidents that occurred early and often, Beasley calmly piloted his Beasley B-7 through the driving rain en route to the checkered.

"I went out on a full wet setup and was using Hoosier's full rain tires" said Beasley. "I think that I was so much faster than the others today because of my familiarity with Mid-Ohio in the rain."

Jacek Mucha, of Laval, Quebec, Canada, came home in second, followed by Tim Dunn, of Chesterland, Ohio.

The G Production title bout was slated as the second race on Friday. The track began to show signs of dry asphalt, and polesitter Kevin Allen (Triumph Spitfire) was set to drive away from the field. But this day would not belong to Allen, as he pulled his machine to a halt early-on in turn 15. The beneficiary of Allen's misfortunes was Fritz Costley, in a Fiat X 1/9. Costley led until lap 10, when Kent Prather took the point in his MG A. But in the end it was Jeff Winter, of Arvada, Colo., who took the win in a Datsun 510 after a pass of Costley on the second-to-last lap.

"No one is more surprised than me," said Winter. "The Datsun 510 used to be in B Sedan class, but it was obsolete. Then the SCCA put it into GP and it is really good here. I've had a lot of fun with this old car. The first 15 laps were just treacherous, but then the track dried and I found the dry line."

In the Formula 500 Championship event, Elivan Goulart, of Sturgis Mich., hunted down polesitter Thomas Edwards on the opening lap, and went on to lead flag-to-flag for his first Runoffs crown.

"The car was great and I had a good start," said Goulart "I just wanted to take it easy and not make any mistakes. I just stayed out of trouble and things went well."

Just before the brutish T1 cars took the course for the pace lap, the rains came in hard. The race, which was given the green flag at the start of day's worst shower, meant nothing but problems for the monstrous machines. Incident after incident shrunk the field throughout the event. But this one was over before it started if you can believe it. Someone must have forgotten to tell John Heinricy about the adverse conditions. Piloting his C5 Chevrolet Corvette, Heinricy checked-out early, extending to over 10 car lengths on the opening lap. When it was all said and done, Heinricy went on to lap the entire field in the downpour for his first National Championship in T1.

"This was an awesome car today," said Heinricy. "The car was set up just right for the wet. I got the lead at the start by going into the first turn deeper than [Bobby] Archer. I got a good rhythm going, and even when I had a big lead I did not want to back off for fear of getting out of the rhythm."

The Formula Ford race turned out to be a two-car dash to the line. After passing polesitter Keith Nunes (Swift DB6-1) on lap nine, Kyle Krisiloff, of Indianapolis, Ind., held on in a Van Diemen RF01 for his first SCCA Runoffs win.

"Patience was the key today," said Krisiloff. "We made the right tire choice with full wets, and when it started to rain hard I knew that the race was going to come back to me. I was worried about the restarts, but I was focused on making the least amount of mistakes as possible. This was my first year and we ran 21 races, trying to get as much experience. But I never expected to win."

In Showroom Stock C, David Roush, of nearby Shelby, Ohio, completed the first leg of his attempt to sweep the Showroom Stock classes. Starting from pole, Roush avoided some early contact up front and went every lap to take the win. But Roush isn't finished, as he will make his bid for a second runoffs title tomorrow in SSB.

"It feels great," said Roush. "I've been second twice before, but this is my first win. The Mazda is new to us this year and we did not do all that much development of it, but we got it right today. I live close enough to Mid-Ohio that I actually went home after this morning's warm up and took a nap until two this afternoon. I was rested and ready."

Brad Stout, of St. Louis, Mo., led from pole and was awarded the Kohler(r)/SCCA Chicago Region "Triple Crown Award." The Triple Crown Award is comprised of a win at the popular June Sprints(r) at Road America, a season point championship in the driver's division and a victory at the season-ending Runoffs. Stout, in a 2000 Vortech, dominated the 46-car field, the largest this weekend, and captured his second Runoffs National Championship.

"Last year was my race to lose and I did," said Stout. "This year I was determined not to have to make the same statement. Early in the race I bided my time, getting my tires up to temperature. Then I put my head down and drove. The track had dried out and it was great. We were set up for a dry race and we guessed right."

The final crowning of the day went to Jaime Houseman, of London, Ontario, Canada, driving a Honda CRX in the GT4 class. In the day's most stellar race, Houseman fended off numerous challenges from second place finisher Scott Culbertson (Nissan 240SX).

"I was trying to make the car as wide as possible. Culbertson was faster than me in the corners, but I was faster than him on the straights. I was concentrating on holding my line so that it would make it harder for him to pass."

Polesitter and GT4 favorite Wilson Wright Jr. failed to finish the race after leading early. A "gearbox full of neutrals", as Mid-Ohio track announcer John Fippin called it, prematurely ended his day.

Tune in again tomorrow as the Mid-Ohio track announcers call the next eight Championship races at www.peavey.com, during Peavey Electronics' live audio web broadcasting of the 2001 Runoffs.

The SCCA continues to groom top-notch, world-class drivers in the most diverse racing organization in the world. As the SCCA enters its 57th year of existence, over 60,000 members within 109 regions across the country compete in almost 2000 sanctioned events per year.


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Series SCCA
Drivers John Heinricy , Jacek Mucha , Tim Dunn , Ben Beasley , Jeff Winter , Kent Prather , Elivan Goulart , Kyle Krisiloff , Keith Nunes , David Roush , Brad Stout , Scott Culbertson , Kevin Allen , Wilson Wright