RACE: National Runoffs: Sunday races report

Final Eight Champions Crowned at SCCA Runoffs TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 15, 2006) -- The final eight of 25 2006 National Champions were crowned Sunday in the final day of the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kansas--As Big As You Think...

Final Eight Champions Crowned at SCCA Runoffs

TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 15, 2006) -- The final eight of 25 2006 National Champions were crowned Sunday in the final day of the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kansas--As Big As You Think at Heartland Park Topeka.

Race 18: GTL

Polesitter James Dentici, of Oconomowoc, Wis., cruised to a 15.822-second win over Bill Gilcrease, of Costa Mesa, Calif., to capture his first SCCA GT Lite National Championship. Douglas Ruthroff, of Phoenix, finished third.

From the green flag, Dentici got a great jump in his No. 11 Raglin Racing/JDM Honda CRX Si coming down the front straight heading into Turn One on a damp racetrack and from that point forward, he must have set his throttle on cruise control, as he had more than a 29-second lead by lap 12 and never looked back.

Dentici's win was first SCCA GT Lite National Championship and his fourth SCCA National Championship overall (1981 -- GT4, 1989 and 1993 -- GT3).

Ruthroff, who started from the rear of the pack after pulling off the grid late in his No. 48 Hasport Honda CRX, put on an impressive driving display of his own charging through the field to challenge second-place finisher Gilcrease for position over the last three laps of the race. Gilcrease had to use most the 2.5-mile Heartland Park Topeka track to keep Ruthroff behind his No. 64 mincomp/Mini Mania/Redline/Booble.com BMC Mini Cooper, and he did just that finishing second.

Arnstein Loyning, of Portland, Ore., and William Pintaric, of Youngstown, Ohio, finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Matthew Foley, of Spartanburg, S.C., won the Sunoco Hard Charger of the race award for advancing nine positions throughout the race, starting 19th and finishing 10th.

Race 19: SM

Eighteen year-old Andrew Caddell, of Graham, Wash., successfully avoided an opening lap melee to become the inaugural Spec Miata National Champion. Brad Rampelberg, of San Jose, Calif., and Matt Cross, of Folsom, Calif., finished second and third respectively.

With 55 cars starting the Spec Miata race, expecting anything less than a free-for-all in the first corners would be a mistake, particularly with a damp-to-drying course. Caddell wasted no time, and motored his No. 88 Victory Lane Miata past polesitter Blake Clements, of Kennedale, Texas, and into the lead through Turn One. Clements got his No. 56 SP Induction Miata all crossed-up in Turn Two, causing the pack of cars behind him to take evasive action, and costing Clements a shot at the podium.

Caddell sped away from the incident with the No. 27 MSR Miata of Tony Rivera and No. 17 Pouredfoundations.com Miata of Anthony Coello hot on his heels. The pressure on Caddell cooled on lap four when Coello ran wide in Turn Five handing third to Rampelberg in the No. 12 Off Camber Miata. Rambelburg immediately began to battle with second-place Rivera, who began to fade with his wet-weather tires as opposed to the tires of Cadell, Rampelberg and Cross. The fight for second allowed Cadell to pull away to a dominant Spec Miata victory.

Rivera hit trouble on lap seven, when Rampelberg made the pass for second in Turn Five. Several laps later Rivera would loose the final podium spot to the No. 80 Hooverspeed/Rebello Miata of Cross. Carl Zimmermann, of Austin, Texas, and Eric Foss, of Braselton, Ga., completed the top five. No. 4 Michael Neal, of Indianapolis, Ind., earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 25 positions throughout the race, from 56th to 31st.

Race 20: GT1

Polesitter Philip Simms, of Orlando, Fla., caught a late-race break to win his first SCCA GT1 National Championship at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. Max Lagod, of Barrington, Ill., and Glen Jung, of Osteen, Fla., completed the top three.

From pole, Simms got a great jump in his No. 10 Jaguar XKR taking the lead in Turn One with the No. 12 Red Line/Cyclo Jaguar XKR of Michael Lewis, of Poway, Calif., in tow. The two would make fast work of the field, opening up a nearly 20-second lead by lap seven on then third-place driver Bill Gray, of Fayetteville, Ark.

On lap seven, Simms slid wide at the exit of Turn 14 and, as a result, Lewis inherited the lead. The Lewis -- Simms battle would continue for the next 10 laps, when on lap 16 of the 18-lap race, Lewis' machine sustained a flat left front tire and Simms assumed the lead. At that point, Lewis and Simms had a more than 35-second lead on then third-place Lagod. With Simms in the lead and Lewis heading to pit lane for a tire change, Lagod took over second-place -- highlighting an impressive run from his 23rd starting position to finish second. Lagod would win the Sunoco Hard Charger of the race award for his efforts. Meanwhile, Simms cruised to a 15.516-second win at an average speed of 76.382 mph.

Driving the No. 83 Chevrolet Camaro, Lagod had been entered in a Corvette for the Runoffs, but after losing two engines during the Trans-Am event last weekend, chose to return home in Illinois. After watching live timing and scoring for the event all week, he elected to pull out his old Camaro, with which he won the 1996 and 1997 Championships, and return to the event on Friday to start at the back of the pack.

Jung's third-place finish in the No. 77 Mazdaspeed/Goodyear/Mandeville Mazda RX7 was the first podium finish for a non-V8 powered car since 1999, when Juan Leroux won in a V6 powered Ford Mustang.

Joey Scarallo, of Hauppage, N.Y. brought his No. 16 Toyo Tire/Group A Wheels.com Chevrolet Corvette home fourth, while Shawn Gray, of Fayetteville, Ark., finished fifth in his No. 09 Chevrolet Camaro.

Race 21: FV

Bob Neumeister, of Pueblo, Colo., captured his first-career SCCA National Championship Sunday, winning the Formula Vee race at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. Stephan Oseth, of Leesburg, Va., and Michael Varacins, of Burlington, Wis., completed the podium at Heartland Park Topeka.

Neumeister started his No. 94 Hoosier/Red Line Vortech second to Oseth, but got the jump on the field into turn one. The former Runoffs runner-up battled early with previous Champions Oseth and Brad Stout, of St. Louis, before pulling out to an advantage of more than two seconds. Driving the No. 72 Hoosier/DBM Racing Vortech, Oseth and Stout's No. 35 Goodyear/Noble/LRE/BRP Vortech battled for second until four-time Champion Stout's car suffered a mechanical failure on lap 13.

Neumeister continued to extend his advantage throughout the race, finally finishing 4.129 seconds ahead of Oseth, averaging 75.362 mph over the course of the 18-lap, 45-mile contest.

Varacins started fourth in his No. 65 Speed Sport AM5 and was in contention for the lead early before spinning back to eighth. He recovered to finish third, 19.186 seconds behind the winner. Nelson Mason, of Niagara Falls, Ontario, finished fourth, followed by Stevan Davis, of Powder Springs, Ga.

Timothy Remmers, of New Hartford, Conn., earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award, advancing thirteen positions from 27th to 14th.

Race 22: EP

Lawrence Loshak, of Glendale, Wis., had to hold off polesitter Thomas Thrash, of Houston, Texas, on the last corner of the last lap to secure his first SCCA E Production National Championship at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kansas, As Big As You Think. Bob Neal, of Harbor City, Calif., finished third.

Thrash got a great start in his No. 67 Lucas Auto Mazda RX7 to grab the early lead before a multi-car incident on lap three brought out full-course yellow. It appeared that the No. 89 Mazda Miata of John Brakke, of Fargo, N.D., was spun in Turn Nine. Driving the No. 5 Roundpeg.com Mazda RX3, Aaron Downey, of Corona Del Mar, Calif., made a move on the No. 99 Mazdatrix RX7 of Dave Lemon, but Lemon checked up and the two made contact. Then, Kevin Grant, of Eads, Tenn., slid his No. 74 Rays Auto Collision Mazda Miata into Brakke. The melee got worse when Miner Wilcox, of Charlottesville, Va., slowed down to avoid contact with the other cars off course and just then Meredith Haupt, of Overland Park, Kan., found the No. 75 Carriage & Motor Works Mazda RX7 on top of Wilcox's No. 65 Checkered Flag Farm Caterham 7.

When the race went green, Thrash opened up a more than two-second lead before Thrash, Loshak and Neal made it three-wide down the front straight on lap 12, with Neal's No. 08 Mazdatrix/Performance Mazda RX7 officially leading that lap. However, Loshak would take the lead in the Carousel on lap 13. Loshak had opened up nearly a five-second advantage by the penultimate lap of the 18-lap race before Thrash filled Loshak's mirrors. Thrash looked poised to pass Loshak for the lead on the final lap in Turns 12, 13 and 14, but could not get the job done as Loshak narrowly beat Thrash by 0.455-second.

Greg Ira, of Plantation, Fla., brought his No. 2 Cu Yacht Charters/First Coast Auto Nissan 240z home fourth, while John Schmitt, of Sunbury, Ohio, finished fifth in his No. 62 Hoosier/Red Line/Hondata Honda Prelude. Charles Davis, of Overland Park, Kan., won the Sunoco Hard Charger of the race award for advancing 15 positions throughout the race, starting 41st and finishing 26th.

Race 23: DSR

Mark Jaremko, of Spokane, Wash., blew away the rest of the D Sports Racing field at Heartland Park Topeka to claim D Sports Racing crown number four. John Bender, of Vancouver, Wash., and Dorian Foyil, of Nassau, Bahamas, completed the podium.

Polesitter J.R. Osborne, of Centennial, Colo., looked like the man to beat as his No. 83 Equinox Group/Farcon Stohr WF1 took the lead into Turn One, but Jaremko's No. 2 Goodyear/Redline Oil Stohr WF1-BPS quickly slid by Osborne on the following corner. Osborne didn't even have a chance to challenge Jaremko, as he pulled into the pits on lap two with mechanical issues.

After only three laps, Jaremko had more than seven seconds on the No. 11 West Race Cars West WR 1000 of Bender in second-place. That gap was erased when a car stuck off course brought out the full-course yellow on lap five. Nothing could stop the Jaremko however, and when the green flag waved for the restart, he resumed his dominant pace, averaging 75.551 mph around the 2.5-mile track.

Behind Jaremko, Bender's runner-up position came under threat in the closing laps, when traffic came into play and allowed the No. 81 Stohr WF1 of Foyil to get within striking distance. Foyil was unable to capitalize and Bender held on to the second spot.

Steve Shelton, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Mark White, of Waunakee, Wis., finished-out the top five. Michael Reupert, of Hubertus, Wis., won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 12 positions during the race, from 20th to eighth.

Race 24: GP

Chuck Mathis, of St. Jacob, Ill., made his first SCCA G Production National Championship look easy winning by 14.032-seconds over polesitter Andy Deatherage, of Cleveland, Ohio, at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kansas, As Big As You Think. Chris Albin, of Maryland Heights, Mo., finished third.

As a light rain began to fall on the G Production start, Deatherage powered his No. 9 Woody Service/Hoosier Suzuki Swift GT to the lead in Turn One and led the first six laps before Mathis made a move to the inside of Deatherage in Turn 14 to take the lead. From there, Mathis put some distance between his No. 54 Hoosier/247-Parts.com/Gateway Motorsport Volkswagen Rabbit and the rest of the field en route to his first National Championship.

Ken Bouquillon, of New Milford, Conn., finished fourth in the No. 29 Gmt Racing/Rebello Racing Engines Nissan 510 and Jonathan Goodale, of Conifer, Colo., brought the No. 4 Hoosier/Bimmerhaus/JeffCo Sheriff Suzuki Swift GTI home in fifth. David Hammer, of North East, Pa., won the Sunoco Hard Charger of the race award for advancing nine positions throughout the race, starting 24th and finishing 15th.

Race 25: FA

Mirl Swan, of Platte City, Mo., mastered a wet Heartland Park Topeka track to win the Formula Atlantic race at the 2006 SCCA National Champions Runoffs, Presented by Kansas, As Big As You Think. Brothers David and Keith Grant, from Germantown, Tenn., finished second and third respectively.

As a damp green flag waved, Polesitter K. Grant in the No. 40 Hoosier Tire Swift .014a led the field into Turn One, but struggled to find grip through Turn Two as Swan pulled alongside. K. Grant spun into the mud as the No. 88 Swan Racing/WR King Swift moved into the lead, where he rocketed to a seven second lead within a lap.

On lap two a full course yellow came out. On the lap six restart Swan remained unchallenged, but the battle commenced for P2 when D. Grant in his No. 12 Hoosier Swift .014a got around Kyle Kelley's No. 33 Upracing.com Swift .014a. John Stickler took advantage of the battle on the following lap, moving his No. 91 Matress City 03 Star Pro Formula into the runner-up position briefly, before D. Grant retook the position for good.

The full course yellow came out again on lap 15 for cars stuck on track, making it a sprint to the end when green-flag racing resumed on lap 17. Swan and D. Grant were untouchable on the restart, but Kelley fell into the clutches of the resurgent K. Grant, who snatched the final podium position away from Kelley in the Carousel.

Mirl won the race with an average speed of 65.66 mph, and earned his first SCCA National Championship at his home track.

REVISED Race 15: AS

One day after finishing second on the racetrack at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kansas--As Big As You Think, John Heinricy, of Royal Oak, Mich., was awarded his 10th-Career SCCA National Championship and fourth-straight in the American Sedan class after Michael Lavigne was disqualified following post-race technical inspection. Ed Hosni, of Novi, Mich., was second, followed by Jason Von Kluge, of Ann Arbor, Mich.

From the outside of row two driving the No. 78 Sensible Auto/Hoosier Ford Mustang, Kyle Watkins, of Broomfield, Colo., tried a banzai-like move to the outside of Turn One for the lead, but could not make it stick. Watkins locked up the tires sustaining a flat right front tire, giving the lead to the No. 7 Hoosier/Russell Auto Center Ford Mustang of polesitter Tom Sloe, of Newbury, Ohio.

Sloe quickly put some distance between himself and then second-place Lavigne, leading by more than five seconds by lap three. However, smoke began to emanate from the rear of Sloe's machine on lap four. By lap eight of the 18-lap race, the smoke continued to get worse and Lavigne passed Sloe for the lead -- a lead he would never relinquish. Lavigne captured his first SCCA National Championship by dominating 20.631-seconds at an average speed of 77.501 mph.

Heinricy put on an impressive driving display in his No. 58 Goodyear/TAR/Tom Aquilante Pontiac Firebird from his 10th starting position to take the win. Driving the No. 3 Kumho Tires Cheverolet Camaro, Schepergerdes also had nice race finishing third on track, but would also be disqualified in post-race tech.

Following the penalties, Hosni in the No. 17 Goodyear/RSIG Security Ford Mustang winds up second in the final results, followed by the No. 77 Ford Mustang of Jason Von Kluge to complete the revised podium. Jim Wheeler, of Leneza, Kan., and Tom Ellis, of Pompano Beach, Fla., become fourth and fifth respectively. Kevin Youngers, of Greeley, Colo., won the Sunoco Hard Charger of the race award for advancing 10 positions throughout the race, starting 21st and finishing 11th.

Superlatives:

A total of 682 drivers started the 25 races from Friday through Sunday, the third most in event history.

In addition to the eight Championships, three major awards were announced, including the top two driver awards and the Mechanic of the Year.

The President's Cup, awarded annually to the driver demonstrating ability, competitiveness and success at the Runoffs by the event stewards, was presented to Spec Racer Ford Champion Mike Miserendino.

The Mark Donohue Award, presented by the Road Racing Driver's Club for outstanding performance, sportsmanship and competitiveness in SCCA road racing was presented to Jesse Prather, who won the F Production National Championship.

Miserendino's crew chief, Mark Ballengee, was presented the SCCA Mechanic of the Year award for his efforts and sacrifice of missing the birth of his first grandchild to be at the Runoffs.

Celebrating its 43rd year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kansas, As Big As You Think annually crowns the best amateur road racers in North America as Champions. More than 750 competitors gathered to battle for 25 class titles, with nine races on Friday and eight Saturday and Sunday. This was the first year for the Runoffs to held at Heartland Park Topeka and fittingly enough, the event opened and closed with a Kansas driver winning his first National Championship (Hans Peter in CSR and Mirl Swan in Formula Atlantic.)

-credit: scca

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Series SCCA
Drivers Mark White , Brad Stout , Keith Grant , Max Lagod , Tom Sloe , Glen Jung , Philip Simms , John Schmitt , Michael Neal , Michael Reupert , Mark Jaremko , Jesse Prather , Bill Gray , Bill Gilcrease , Kyle Kelley , Kevin Grant , Chris Albin , Jonathan Goodale , Brad Rampelberg , Chuck Mathis , William Pintaric , John Bender , Shawn Gray , Juan Leroux , Andrew Caddell , Mark Donohue , Eric Foss , Mirl Swan , J.R. Osborne , Kyle Watkins , Mike Miserendino