VR-JPMD #22: SSC, FF, SSB, AS
Valvoline Runoffs '97
Copyright (c) 1997 John P. M. Dillon
RACE 12 - Showroom Stock C
SportsCar picks: Neal Sapp, Dodge Neon Tom Start, Dodge Neon Jeff Altenberg, Dodge Neon
Grid Top 3: Bill Bartlett, Leon Neal, Jeff Luckritz
LAP 1: A lot of cars making extra lanes in the grass at the start. Two cars come together back in the pack and one is into the guard rail. Another off into the grass going into eight and almost collects another getting back on the track. Three or four more off at nine, including Jeff Altenberg who gets tapped and spins in the middle of the track. Leaders are Neal Sapp, Leon Neal and Jeff Luckritz. LAP 2: A number of cars off at the end of the straight, starting with third place Luckritz. Jack Keller flips and comes to rest upside down in the grass. Driver appears to be OK. LAP 3: The safety car is out to pick up the field. The order now is Sapp, Neal, Ralph Porter, Larry DuLude, and Gene Harrington. LAP 5: Sapp leads the field back to the restart in good order. The field is pretty well strung out. LAP 6: Sapp and Neal are starting to stretch out a bit of a lead over third place DuLude. Porter is keeping pressure on Harrington for fourth not far behind DuLude. LAP 8: Sapp and Neal continue to lead and pull away from third place. DuLude and Harrington are battling for third with a little gap back to the battle for fifth. LAP 9: Harrington takes over third from DeLude at the end of the straight. LAP 10: Sapp is gaining a bit of an advantage over Neal. Harrington has his hands full with DeLude, Larry Ray and Ralph Porter right behind. Grayson Upchurch loses it in turn nine and slides off into the grass, flipping the car and parking it on its roof. He is out and appears to be OK. LAP 12: John Lechner loses it in turn 1 and slides through the gravel into the tire wall. LAP 13: The safety car is going back out to slow the field down while Lechner's car is moved to a safer location. LAP 15: Sapp brings them by for a very fast restart. Neal stays with him in second followed by Ray, Harrington and Bill Verdien. LAP 16: The top four are battling hard for the lead and drawing away from Verdien. LAP 18: No change in the leaders, but nobody has any breathing room. Harrington comes alongside Ray for third at the end of the straight, but Ray holds him off. The battle gives Sapp and Neal a little extra room. LAP 19: Sapp comes by with about eight car length advantage over Neal who also has a margin now over the battle for third between Ray and Harrington. Ray gets a good run out of the keyhole and leaves Harrington behind.
Neal Sapp takes the National Championship with Leon Neal finishing second and Larry Ray third.
Leon Neal was selected for the Stack, Inc. "Drive of the Race" award and Larry DuLude was selected for the "Outstanding Drive" award, also sponsored by Stack, Inc.
Top Three Driver Quotes Race #12 SSC
Neal Sapp, 1st: "I wasn't sure whether they were going to throw green. I got a good run. Then the caution came out. It was a hard fight from there." "The track was real greasy. Leon presssured me the whole way. I was glad to see the checkered flag!" "The yellows hurt me. I had to drive to protect my lead. It was a dogfight to the end." "I flipped the mirror up so I wouldn't see Leon behind me.
Leon Neal, 2nd: "The first yellow helped me a little bit. It brought Neal back to me a little bit. Neal and I were able to pull away a little at the restart." "Maybe I used up more of the tires on the second restart. Gene and Larry couldn't pull away either." "The only thing consistent was the greasy track." "I drove a lot harder than I've ever done. "There were scary moments at the second restart, for at least two laps. In fact, Larry got past me briefly."
Larry Ray, 3rd: "I started 14th. At the start Bartlett was right in front of me. Somebody came by and punted Bartlett. Then a couple of other incidents. I managed to thread my way through with Paul Bonaccorsi." "The last few laps I got past Gene Harrington. "I could put a little distance on him, then I screwed up in the carrousel and allowed him to close up on me in Madness. I tried to make a move on Leon on the last lap in the keyhole, and allowed Harrington to get past me in the keyhole. I repassed him in Turn 6. "I had to work. The pass on Tom Start was hard, we got through that one pretty clean. I had a good race with Ralph Porter. He and I went by 6,7,8 until the bridge. I couldn't get ahead of him. I was getting concerned." "The pass on back straignt? I was trying to get Harrington and DeLude and they were spread out for some reason. I went from fifth to third between them. I got down to second gear, still had a good head of steam, stabbed it, got it up to the third gear, and managed to make it happen." "The first yellow helped me, I was really using up tires." "I didn't think about last year at all [when he rolled the car]. Oh, sure, I was careful in Turn 6, but I gave myself more time. Last year is last year." "Neal Sapp went up on two wheels twice." "I started past Leon Neal, but he had the inside line. Gene really pressured me. I might have had a little contact with Paul Bonaccorsi. That Mazda has a lot of straight line speed, but other than that, maybe a little brush here and there, but it was incredibly lucky considering all the stuff was going on."
Raw Quotes: LR: Started 14th, at start Bartlett was right in front, somebody came by and punted Leah Bartlett, then a couple of other incidents, then a blue car got caught up, managed to thread my way through with Paul Bonaccorsi. Last few laps got past Gene Harrington, could put a little distance on him, then screwed up in carrousel and allowed him to close up on me in Maddness. Tried to make a move on Leon on last lap in keyhole, allowed Harrin to get past me in Keyhole, I repassed him in T.6.
LN: Start/finished second. First yellow helped me a ltitle bit, brought Neal back to me a little bit, Neal and I were able to pull away a little at the restart. Maybe used up more of tires on second restart, Gene and Larry couldn't pull away either.
NS: Wasn't sure whether they were going to throw green, got a good run. Caution came out, it was a hard fight from there. Track was real greasy, Leon presssured me the whole way. Was glad to see the checkered flag! Yellows hurt me, I had to drive to protect my lead. It was a dogfight to the end.
LN: Only thing consistent was greasy track. I've had a few runs with Gene, drove a lot harder than I've ever done.
All cars are '95s. Way they're built, '95s are quicker, Konis on '95s, not on newer models, newer models are detuned to be slightly quieter. '97 has Konis, but SCCA said they have to be taken off thinking they're performance advantage. They're allowed on Neon Challenge '97s though.
LR: I had to work. THe pass on Tom's stark was hard, we got through that one pretty clean. Had a good race with Ralph Porter, He and I went by 6,7,8 until the bridge I couldn't get ahead of him, getting concerned.
LR: Pass on back straignt, trying to get Harrington and Galute, and they were spread out for some reason, went from fifth to third between them [an amazing pass!], got down to second gear, still had a good head of steam, stabbed it, got it up to the third gear, managed to make it happen.
NS: Flipped mirror up so I wouldn't see Leon behind.
LR: First yellow helped me, I was really using up tires.
All three on BFG's.
LR: "Is there another tire?"
LR: Didn't think about last year at all [when he rolled the car]. Oh, sure, I was careful in T.6, but I give myself more time. Last year is last year.
NS: I thought about it!
LR: Neal S went up on two wheels twice.
NS: Greasy, then it hooked on the curb.
LN: Scary moments at the second restart, for at least two laps. In fact Larry got past me briefly.
LR: Started past, but LN had inside line. Gene really presured me.Might of had a little contact with Paul B, that Mazda has a lot of straight line speed, but other than that, maybe a little brush here and there, but it was incredibly lucky considering all the stuff was going on.
Last year's SSC winner Paul Bonaccorsi switched from a Neon to a Mazda Protege this year. The change was prompted when the Comp Board "recommended for approval" the new Touring classes; he expected to campaign in T4. Though the new class structure was defeated, he's pleased to run the Mazda. In only three outings, he's running as quick as he did last year in the Neon; it's just that a gaggle of Neons are quicker than him! His other reason for the switch is because "Mazda support is superb." Lastly, he smiled and said "Now I can eat in the Mazda tent: Jeannie Ross prepares a great spread every year."
RACE 13 - Formula Ford
SportsCar picks: Bruce May, Swift DB-1 Jon Horgas, Van Diemen RF-9 Guy Cosmo, Swift DB-1
Grid Top 3: Jon Horgas, Joe Parsons, Adam Dupre
LAP 1: Jon Horgas leads the field into the first turn as they spread out four wide. Horgas quickly opens up a lead over second place Joe Parsons. Two cars get together in turn nine going right over the top of one another. Russell Ruedisueli rolled over the back of a spinning Mike Sauce and both are stopped in the middle of the track. LAP 2: The safety car is going out to slow down the field. LAP 5: Horgas leads the field back for the restart. Chris Winkler moves quickly into second and starts pressuring Horgas for the lead. The two of them are stretching out an advantage over Parsons in third. LAP 7: The first seven cars forming up the lead pack with little distance between them. Winkler makes the pass on Horgas at the end of the straight. Horgas gets into the grass coming into the carousel and allows Winkler to pull a little lead. Parsons is in third followed by John LaRue and Tom Reinsel. LAP 9: Parsons spins and loses third, but quickly gets back going. LAP 10: Winkler and Horgas are pulling out a lead over third place LaRue. LAP 11: Horgas is within a car length of Winkler and tries to make a move on the outside at the end of the straight. Winkler holds onto first. LaRue leads a pack of six cars about four seconds behind the leaders. LAP 12: Guy Cosmo collects Parsons coming through turn 1 and winds up in the gravel pit missing a wheel. Parsons is out also. Horgas continues to pressure Horgas at all turns, but Winkler maintains the lead. Bruce May gets by into third. LAP 13: Horgas makes a pass on Winkler at the end of the straight and takes over the lead. LAP 15: Winkler makes a move on the outside of Horgas at the end of the straight and takes back first place. LAP 16: Winkler tries to get Horgas on the inside at turn 1, but Horgas holds him off. Winkler makes a move on the inside at the end of the straight, but Horgas makes him back off. Horgas locks up his brakes at turn nine and lets Winkler get by for the lead. Horgas loses about ten car lengths, but immediately starts trying to get it back. LAP 18: Winkler leads by just a car length over Horgas. Bruce May leads a three car battle for third, just three seconds behind the leader. Horgas stays right up on Winkler. Horgas tries to make a move on the inside at turn 11, but doesn't have enough room. LAP 19: Winkler gets a good run out of the keyhole and gets away from Horgas on the straight. LaRue gets by May for third. Horgas closes up on Winkler through the esses. Horgas gets into Winkler at turn 11 and flips Winkler's car into the tires. Horgas is also off into the barriers.
John LaRue takes the National Championship. Bruce May finishes second and Clark Cambern is third.
Dan Rinehart was selected for the Stack, Inc. "Drive of the Race" award and Chris Winkler was selected for the "Outstanding Drive" award, also sponsored by Stack, Inc.
Top Three Driver Quotes Race #13 FF
1st: John LaRue 2nd: Bruce May 3rd: Clark Cambern
CC: Started 4th, I didn't know we were going to be on the podium till I saw Chris Winkler on his head, trying to get up with Bruce and John and make a race of it. Just had to chase them down, try to get around, couldn't make it happen. 17 years old, first Speed Freakz podium this year. Just got a Quicksilver engine and going fast.
Bruce May: moved up from 11th to 2nd. Little disappointed didn't win, but I won the previous two.
JL: Never gave up hope. Car went "off" a little bit during the middle part of the race, Bruce got around me, thought I could follow him around, cooled the tires a bit. New car for me. We burnt the oil all week long, kept tweaking the car. The car worked real well. It's a Lathrop Citation. No foreign stuff, built in Indianapolis.
JL: I had problems getting off the keyhole all day long.
CC: I think it was a lot greasier than it has been. T.11, Keyhole, even T.1.
CC: It was tight, running in pack the whole time. Very frustrating to see Horgas and Winkler motor away; pack up going into a corner, string out exiting the corner, the leaders kept getting further away.
BM: Hope to see it on TV; it was sure exciting from my spot.
JL: Put a big thanks for Steve Lathrop, he's really helped a lot. Snores a little loud though!
RACE 14 - Showroom Stock B
SportsCar picks: Harry Manning, Masda Miata R Mike Galati, Mazda Miata R Erich Heuschele, Dodge Neon
Grid Top 3: Mike Galati, Harry Manning, David Roush
LAP 1: Galati leads the field into and through the first turn. Harry Manning tucks in behind Galati, but loses it in turn nine and slides off into the grass. LAP 2: Galati quickly pulls out a slight lead over David Roush in second. Third is Eric Morehouse. Vincent Ocuto goes by Morehouse at the keyhole to take over third. LAP 3: Galati continues to pull out an advantage over Roush. Ocuto has his hands full with Morehouse and Gail Baker right behind. Phil Croyle is in sixth and moving up on Baker. LAP 6: Galati leads Roush by two seconds with a gap of three more seconds back to the battle for third. Ocuto continues to lead Morehouse, but Baker is keeping the pressure up on Morehouse. LAP 7: Morehouse gets a good run on Ocuto down the back straight and tries to pass on the inside at the end of the straight, but Ocuto slams the door. LAP 9: Galati has added another second to his lead over Roush. The battle for third continues to be very close, but no changes in position. LAP 10: Ocuto slips off the track and lets Morehouse and Baker get by. He rejoins in fifth place and quickly get back up behind Baker. LAP 12: Roush appears to be closing a little on Galati. Galati gets around some lapped traffic, but Roush gets held up. LAP 13: Ocuto goes off at the keyhole and rejoins but drops way back. LAP 15: Galati's advantage is now almost five seconds over Roush. Morehouse and Baker are gaining on Roush as well. LAP 16: The battle for second has become a three way affair with Morehouse and Baker right behind Roush. Ocuto has caught up to Croyle to battle for fifth. Croyle loses it going into the carousel and Ocuto takes over fifth. LAP 17: Roush, Morehouse and Baker have trouble with lapped traffic coming out of the carousel. All of them wind up taking to the grass and positions really get shuffled. Roush comes out ahead with an advantage as Morehouse and Baker have more trouble. LAP 19: Galati has a huge lead over second place Roush. Baker is now in second followed by Morehouse and Ocuto.
Michael Galati takes the National Championship. Second place goes to David Roush and Gail Baker takes third.
Michael Galati was selected for the Stack, Inc. "Drive of the Race" award and Chad Melnik was selected for the "Outstanding Drive" award, also sponsored by Stack, Inc.
Top Three Driver Quotes Race #14 SSB 1st: Michael Galati 2nd: Dave Roush 3rd: Gail Baker 4th: Eric Morehouse
GB: Re: front straight incident. We were flying, doing real good, came up on a slow car, everything broke loose, Eric was spinning, I was in the kitty litter, we all got going, survived. It cracked the oil pan, that motor is done. Didn't know what it was, but I could smell the smoke!
Dave Roush: Losing handling between laps 11 and 14, Gail and Eric were hooked up pretty good, lapped traffic; only second year racing (1st Nationals) and I'm learning, learning, learning; got popped from behind, got in gravel trap, kept my foot it in, kept it together. Goal was to finish on the podium. Once Michael checked out just wanted to hold off the others. Second to Michael is like first to me.
MG: Won 4 SSC championships. Told the crew beforehand, if I can get through Turn 1 we'll have it in the bag. Very special, think this is my last one, to go away on the top is a great relief. Red Line have been sticking with me. Last couple of years don't even make a lap, they still stuck with me. "Where's the podium?" It used to seem easy to get podium, but then I couldn't even find it! Got startled a couple times in the race with brakes, they got a little soft. But then I paced myself based on interval times and kept it all together. Next year is still up in the air; running World Challenge, will be at Reno next week. Will be a shootout next week, 2 points behind.
DR: At start I got on the brakes, tried to make it through clean, got pounded from behind, I might have tapped Harry a little bit. Basically I did what Mike told me to do, just put your head down and drive. My intention was to hook up with Harry and finish on podium, real unfortunate what happened to him. It was exciting.
Lapped traffic was a bit of a problem?
MG: Couple of places maybe, but they tried to get out of the way.
GB: Just bad luck a couple of times.
Reporter: Jim Ukhoto got caught out be a lapped Neon, probably didn't see him, as result had some car damage.
MG: No spaghetti this year [he was going to make spaghetti for the Mazda tent occupants], I got stuck at work, but next year I'll come down to watch so I can cook for the guys them. I really felt bad about not being able to make it. Not gonna defend title. Racing Pro should be a full time job, but it's not my fulltime job. It takes a lot of time. Toni is at the rev limiter already.