RACE: National Runoffs: Sunday races report

Last Seven Championships Put Wraps on 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 25, 2005) -- The 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs®, the "Olympics" of Road Racing, crowned four first-time winners Sunday and wrapped...

Last Seven Championships Put Wraps on 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 25, 2005) -- The 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs®, the "Olympics" of Road Racing, crowned four first-time winners Sunday and wrapped up the week-long event that saw 734 drivers turn at least one qualifying lap on the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Duane Davis, of Camas, Wash., earned his 13th SCCA National Championship Runoffs title (second all-time behind Jerry Hansen's 27) on Sunday also in Grand Touring 2 -- his eighth championship in that class.

Off the track, the President's Cup - SCCA's most prestigious award given to the driver who best demonstrates ability, competitiveness and success at the Runoffs -- was awarded to H Production Champion Kent Prather, of Wakarusa, Kan. Touring 2 runner-up Kristian Skavnes, of Sparta, N.J., was awarded the Mark Donohue Award, which is given to the driver who shows outstanding performance, sportsmanship and competitiveness in SCCA Club Racing.

For complete wrap-up information of the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kohler, including recaps of all 23 races and results, visit www.scca.com.

Note: After first appearing in 1994, Sunday's conclusion marks the end of a 12-year run for the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as the 2006 Runoffs begin a three-year agreement with Heartland Park Topeka in Topeka, Kan.

Recaps of all eight races from Sunday:

Race 17: Showroom Stock C

Pete Taylor, of Ortonville, Mich., captured his first National Championship Sunday, taking the Showroom Stock C class win at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Ryan Ciechanski, of Clinton Township, Mich., and Joel Lipperini, of Pittston, Pa., completed the top-three.

Commencing the final day 2005 Runoffs, Taylor led the 39-car field to the green flag. Going two and three wide down the back straight, Ciechanski and David Waleke had dynamite starts, moving into second and fourth place respectively behind Taylor. Behind the leaders, several cars made contact in madness, resulting in a full-course caution being shown for a car upside-down the gravel trap.

Getting the green flag on lap four, Taylor had ideal restart, holding off Ciechanski into the esses. Racing nose-to-fender, Taylor and Ciechanski immediately established a multi-car gap on Lipperini. Getting quicker every lap, setting a new lap record in the process, Taylor steadily began to pull away from Ciechanski as the race progressed. Running error-free fast laps to the checkered flag, Taylor led-flag-to-flag, capturing his first Showroom Stock C National Championship by 0.452 second.

"I have been driving a Neon this year but switched to a Mini for the Runoffs," said Taylor. "I think that there is hardly any comparison; the Mini is just that much better. I had a good start although Ryan [Ciechanski] also had a very good start. He got alongside of me, but I was able to keep the lead through the first turns and since this is a hard track to pass on I felt comfortable."

Waleke, of Sterling Heights, Mich., finished fourth, and Ali Naimi, of San Jose, Calif., completed the top-five.

No. 32 Ralph Porter wins the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing nine positions, to finish 12th after starting 21st.

Race 18: Formula Vee

Brad Stout, of St. Louis, Mo., traded the lead several times during Sunday afternoon's SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, but he held on when he had to, earning the fourth Runoffs title of his career and his second SCCA Chicago Region Triple Crown. Jeff Loughead, of Darien, Ill., followed up his 2004 Runoffs-winning performance with a second-place finish, and Stevan Davis, of Powder Springs, Ga., was third.

Stout flashed signs of veteran know-how throughout the 20-lap race on the 2.258-mile course, starting from the pole then relinquishing the lead on several occasions to Bob Neumeister, of Pueblo, Colo., through the middle portions of the race.

As the two battled each other in addition to Loughead and Davis, the four-car pack separated from the rest of the field, weaving in and out of each other as the top three jockeyed back and forth, using famous Formula Vee drafts to bolt past one another virtually every lap as the group entered the Esses.

Sitting in third, Neumeister darted past both Stout and Loughead on Lap 19 after the Keyhole, only to be taken back over by both drivers as they entered the Esses. After he regained the lead, Stout held off a last-lap charge to get the win.

"These are the same three guys on the podium as last year, only the top is changed, thankfully!" Stout said. "To be successful here in Vee, you cannot make any mistakes. I just missed the Triple Crown a couple times before, but this year I am happy to bring it home."

Stout said that the win meant more after he lost someone special earlier this year.

"My crew chief, Bland McCoy, passed away last June. When I visited him one last time I told him I would win this for him. He was with me today looking over my shoulder. I was talking to him on the last lap and felt his presence. This win is for him."

In the Carousel, Neumeister was squeezed just a bit and dropped to fourth. Steve Oseth, of Leesburg, Va., the 2003 FV Champion, finished fifth after starting 13th. Brian McCarthy, of Sacramento, Calif., held the fifth spot for most of the race, but as he was exiting the Carousel, he spun, crossed the track and hit the wall, coming to a stop just before the start/finish line -- helpless as he watched the rest of the field pass him by.

Douglas Sontag, of Georgetown, Ky., won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 27 positions to finish 13th after starting 40th.

Race 19: F Production

Mark Hotchkis, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., captured his first National Championship Sunday, taking the F Production class win at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Steve Sargis, of Frankfort, Ill., and Mason Workman, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, completed the top-three.

Starting from the pole position, John Saurino controlled the start, leading Sargis, and Craig Chima around the opening lap. Racing in close formation, Hotchkis and Workman joined the fight for the lead at the start of lap two. Going three-wide into the esses, Hotchkis passed Sargis and got to the inside of Saurino. Battling for the lead, Saurino went off-course followed by Chima, as Hotchkis and Sargis continued without incident. Holding off repeated challenges for the lead from Sargis, Hotchkis led laps three through eight, when a full-course caution was displayed for a spectacular incident involving Paul Shipp. Timing the lap 12 restart to perfection, Hotchkis easily maintained the lead, with no passes for position within the top-five. As Hotchkis steadily increased his lead during the closing stages of the 20-lap race, Flescher and Workman became engaged in a great battle for third place. Entering the keyhole turn on the final lap, the duo touched. Flescher spun off-course, losing several positions, while Workman continued in third place. Leading uncontested to the checkered flag, Hotchkis crossed the start/finish 6.265 seconds ahead of Sargis, winning his first National Championship.

"At the start I stayed outside going into the first turn, tucked in behind Steve to be safe and followed him through," said Hotchkis. "I got by him but never got away from him. I was driving too hard before the full course yellow but calmed down during it and was better after. This car is Robert Kirby's car. He drove it here many times. In April he passed away. His family asked me to continue to drive it this year. David Finch and his Raetech crew really prepared the car well for me this week and it was just great. The Kirby family and all the Raetech people are here so I did feel some pressure to perform."

Saurino, of Tulsa, Okla., finished fourth, and Pratt Cole, of Salt Lake City, Utah, completed the top-five.

No. 82 Gary Johnson wins the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 25 positions, to finish 14th after starting 38th.

Race 20: Grand Touring 3

John Saurino, of Tulsa, Okla., left little to the imagination in the Grand Touring 3 portion of the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler, taking the GT3 win by 8.478 seconds over Wolfgang Maike, of Santa Barbara, Calif. Terry Watson, of Pierrefonds, Quebec, was third.

In the GT3 race, Saurino broke away early (something he wasn't able to do earlier in the day in the F Production race, which cost him when he was spun out of that race in an incident with another car on the second lap) on the strength of a GT3 record race lap of 1:32.084 (89.136 mph) in his Red Line Oil/Goodyear/Nissan Nissan 240SX to open what proved to be an insurmountable lead.

Though Saurino was never within reach, Maike followed Saurino's plan, powering his Toyota Motorsports/Red Line Toyota Paseo around the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and putting space between himself and the rest of the field. By the end of the 20-lap race, Maike was 19 seconds ahead of third-place Watson's H20! Recreation Inc. Nissan 350Z.

"The car has been great from the get-go. It was fast right out of the box, and I just drove it," Saurino Said. "I was able to sit on the pole, lead every lap, and win the race. I am very pleased. I got in front and saved the tires, just drove it. I saw Wolfgang in my mirrors and just concentrated on keeping ahead. Perhaps now I can get my crew chief to smile, as he has not all week."

Craig Allen, of Fenton, Mich., finished fourth after starting 11th, and Rob Warkocki, of Frankfort, Ill., completed the top five.

Bill McGavic, of Arcadia, Fla., was the Sunoco Hard Charger after advancing 10 positions to finish 10th after starting the race 20th on the grid.

Race 21: Formula Ford

John Robinson II, of St. Cloud, Fla., captured his first National Championship Sunday, taking the Formula Ford class win at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. John LaRue, of Muncie, Ill., and Clark Cambern, of Haslett, Mich., completed the top-three.

Getting the green flag down the Mid-Ohio back straight-away, the 26-car Formula Ford field spread out three-wide. Holding the inside line, Robinson II maintained the lead ahead of LaRue and Cambern, who passed Hoinig to move into second place. As the top-five exited turn eight, Chuck Brewer made contact with Tom Schwietz, causing Schwietz to spin.

Unable to avoid Schwietz, Mike Sauce made light contact and came to halt on the track. With Sauce stopped in the middle of the corner, the full-course caution was shown to the leaders as they crossed the start/finish. Quickly clearing the incident, racing resumed on lap three.

Getting a great jump, Robinson II entered turn seven unchallenged, while LaRue and Cambern went side-by-side through turns seven and eight. With the duo battling for position, Robinson II soon began building a multi-car lead. Behind the lead trio, Schwietz was the driver on the move. Recovering from the spin, Schweitz set the fastest race lap, working his way past Jaremko into fourth place.

With Robinson II running unchallenged in the lead, all eyes focused on the battle for second place. Despite repeatedly getting alongside LaRue, Cambern never found a way past. At the conclusion of the 20-lap race, Robinson had led flag-to-flag to capture his first-ever Formula Ford Title by 2.583 seconds.

"I really have to thank my engine builder," said Robinson II. "We blew our in engine in testing in August and they dropped everything so we would have two motors in the trailer here to the Runoffs. The first few laps I had to push, but once I got free and John [LaRue] and Clark [Cambern] began battling, I was able to focus on driving fast consistent laps."

Schweitz, of Winchester, Va., finished fourth, and Jaremko, of Spokane, Was., completed the top-five.

No. 21 Arthur Foster wins the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 10 positions, to finish seventh after starting 17th.

Race 22: Spec Racer Ford

Joe Colasacco, of Greenwich, Conn., earned his first-ever SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Kohler title in Spec Racer Ford Sunday afternoon, taking the checkered flag by 1.282 seconds over John Black, of Olympic Valley, Calif., and Richard Spicer, of Laurel, Md., who finished second and third, respectively.

Starting second on the grid, Colasacco trailed polesitter Black for the first two laps. As the field entered the Esses, Colasacco executed a perfect inside pass on Black, taking over the lead. Though he was never completely in the clear for the rest of the 20-lap race, Colasacco never relinquished his advantage and took the checkered flag.

Spicer, in his Hagerman RacEngineering/Spicer SRF, also made his move on the third lap, passing Jeff Beck, of Ingleside, Ill., who was looking for a SCCA Chicago Region Triple Crown. It wasn't to be for Beck, however, as Spicer went on to set a new SRF race lap record with a 1:38.642 (83.211 mph), putting third, let alone first, out of reach.

Colasacco said that even after he gained the top spot, he never felt like he had complete control.

"Once I got the lead, I just tried to focus ahead," Colasacco said. "It was so difficult because [Black] was all over me. I tried not to make mistakes, and when I saw Richard [Spicer] make a pass on Black late in the race, I had a feeling that I had it at that point, so I just concentrated on running laps with no mistakes since I didn't have to run qualifying-speed laps at that point."

For Colasacco, it was a relief to finally top the podium as he had participated in more than a decade's worth of Runoffs, but had only been able to finish second, that coming in 2004.

"Last year, I had the pole and went off with two laps to go," Colasacco said. "I've been trying to win this race, for, seriously, like the last three years and have been coming to the Runoffs for the past ten years plus. Finally, it's a good way to go out with the Runoffs going to another location next year, to finally win one, it's important to me."

After battling for much of the 20-lap race, Beck finished fourth, and Lee Fleming, of Lake Forest, Calif., completed the top five.

Ron Lentz, of Shawnee, Kan., won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 12 positions to finish 14th after starting 26th.

Race 23: Grand Touring 2

Duane Davis, of Camas, Was., captured his 13th National Championship Sunday, taking the Grand Touring 2 class win at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. David Finch, of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Jim Goughary, of Houston, Texas, completed the top-three.

Completing Mid-Ohio's 12-year run of hosting the Runoffs, Davis led the Grand Touring 2 field to the green flag. Racing side-by-side into the first turn with six-time National Champion Finch, Davis held the lead, despite light contact between the two cars. Attacking the course, the duo quickly pulled out a gap on third place Gilles, who had moved into the position at the start, as he battled Goughary and Tom Patton.

Holding off early challenges from Finch, Davis steadily began to pull away, building his gap to over five seconds. As the lead duo circulated the 2.258-mile track unchallenged, the battle for third heated up. Passing Gilles just past the halfway mark of the 20-lap race, Goughary passed Patton for third on lap 13. Running unchanged to checkered flag, Davis crossed the start/finish 7.797 seconds ahead of Finch, to capturing his eighth Grand Touring 2 National Championship and 13th Championship overall.

The active leader in National Championships, Davis' 13 titles ranks second all-time behind Jerry Hansen's 27 wins.

"For me it was a great race," said Davis. "The first few laps were pretty tight. I had my areas where I was quick and David [Finch] had his. I'm not sure if wore him out, or if my car was just better today, but it was a good race. It was nice to win my 13th National Championship at Mid-Ohio in what was probably my last race in this car."

Patton, of Hamilton, Ohio, finished fourth, and Gilles, of Avon Lake, Ohio, completed the top-five.

No. 60 Tony Giordano wins the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing six positions, to finish 16th after starting 22nd.

-Curtis Kitchen, SCCA

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers John Robinson , Kent Prather , Brad Stout , Duane Davis , David Finch , Kristian Skavnes , Jeff Beck , Richard Spicer , Pratt Cole , Craig Chima , Tony Giordano , Tom Patton , Pete Taylor , Ralph Porter , Terry Watson , John Black , John LaRue , Jim Goughary , Steve Sargis , Mason Workman , Robert Kirby , Joe Colasacco , Mark Donohue , Mark Hotchkis , John Gary