RACE: Valvoline Runoffs: Day one report

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 16, 2003) -- It was a day of firsts at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as every class leader, all 24 of them to be exact, set a new course record. Of course, that was because the course being used for the 2003 SCCA National...

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 16, 2003) -- It was a day of firsts at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as every class leader, all 24 of them to be exact, set a new course record. Of course, that was because the course being used for the 2003 SCCA National Championship Valvoline Runoffs was modified by two turns, meaning that a brand new course was in effect and that every top qualifying time was a record. After the morning sessions ended, the afternoon groups took up the task of providing ultimate competition and action for drivers and fans.

In the first afternoon session, G Production started with a bang as Kevin Dennis, of Rochester, N.Y., stormed his way around the 13 turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as he posted one of two sub 1:41 times. His Nissan 510 posted the top mark with a 1:40.873, which was 0.043-second faster than the time put up by Kent Prather, of Wakarusa, Kansas. In third position currently is Karl McColl, of Arvada, Colo., who turned in a time of 1:41.767 in his Nissan PL510.

Canadian Jacek Mucha, of Laval, Quebec, did absolutely nothing wrong in his first run on the track as he powered his C Sports Racer Ralt JMS to an outstanding 1:22.171, more than four seconds ahead of the second quickest driver, Jeffrey Miller, of Plymouth, Wis., who was driving his Wynnfurst CSR. Jack Ruscilli, of nearby Columbus, Ohio, was a distant third with a time of 1:26.949.

The Formula Atlantic class, which ran concurrently with CSR, saw Keith Lively, of San Francisco, Calif., who is a favorite in the class coming into this week according to SportsCar, backed that support up as he posted the only qualifying time under 1:21 with a 1:20.360 in his Ralt Rt-41. Jacek Mucha sits second in the class with a Ralt RT-40 and a time of 1:21.076, and Tom Nastasi, of Stamford, Conn., drove his Swift 008 to the tune of a 1:21.116 and a current third place position.

Steve Johnson, of Deerfield, N.H., streaked through his ninth and final lap and grabbed the early lead in his SR 71 with the only 1:27 time posted in the class, with a 1:27.733. He bettered Marc Walker, of Oldsmar, Fla., whose Lola 89/90 turned in its best time on the ninth lap (1:28.127), and John Fergus, of Powell, Ohio, who seized the current third position with a 1:28.344 in his Carbir CS2.

A bit of trouble surfaced in the Touring 1/Touring 2 qualifier in the middle of the afternoon session. Approximately 17 minutes into the 20 minute session, the no. 8 T2 car, driven by William Baten, of Indianapolis, Ind., went off course at turn eight, a ninety right, which resulted in a black flag/checkered flag. Baten's car, a Chevrolet Camaro Z28, had to be towed out of the turn and off the course. In T1, John Heinricy, a large favorite this week, punched ahead of the competition in the 25-car, Corvette dominated class (only 1 car, a BMW driven by Bob Tunnell, of Superior, Colo., sits 17th currently). His 1:34.959 puts him almost approximately eight-tenths ahead of current second-place qualifier Scotty White, of Puyallup, Wash., and 1.5 seconds up on David Roush, of Shelby, Ohio.

In T2, Frederick Baker's Porsche Boxter leads after day one, barely, after posting a fast lap time of 1:39.903. The Bedford, Ohio native leads Jordan Sandridge, of Westfield Center, Ohio by a meager 0.073-second. The distance between Sandridge's Pontiac Firebird and another one, driven by his ??? Mark, is only about three-tenths of a second.

Robert Weber, of Kingwood, Texas, turned in the only sub-1:42 time in H Production with a 1:41.541. He leads Daniel Collishaw, of East Orleans, Mass., who turned in a 1:42.541. Both drivers are in an A H Sprite. Tom Feller, of Clarkston, Mich., is third currently, recording a best lap time of 1:42.668 in his Triumph Spitfire.

Formula Vee has had a full year celebrating its 40th birthday party at the Kohler SCCA Chicago Region June Sprints0x00ae at Road America this year and the tight battles that have waged within its boundaries this year. The Runoffs are shaping up to be no different. 2002 Valvoline ProVee champion Steve Oseth, of Leesburg, Va., grabbed the early pole by running a time of 1:40.051. His time out did Stevan Davis, of Powder Springs, Ga. (1:40.160), and three-time Runoffs champion Brad Stout, of St. Louis, Missouri (1:40.764). In all, the top five Tuesday qualifiers all posted times under 1:41.

E Production had some excitement of its own as a few cars spun out approaching the carousel. No one at the top of the 47-car class had any problems, including Jon Brakke, of Fargo, N.D., who put in a business-like effort in his Mazda Miata and consistency raised his lap times before posting his best on lap five at 1:36.049. Glen Jung, of Deltona, Fla., came out firing and at the end of the run, his Mazda RX-7 sat in second position with a time of 1:36.215. Grayson Upchurch, of Alpharetta, Ga., held the top spot for a few early laps before falling back and then rebounding, finally ending up in the third slot (1:36.266).

Another SportsCar pick made his way toward the top of the leaderboard after qualifying round one, this time in American Sedan. John Heinricy, of Holly, Mich., turned in a solid 1:38.633 in his Chevrolet Camaro, but the top spot in AS after first day action went to Monte Cowles, of Dumfries, Va., who topped Heinricy by 0.059-second in his Ford Mustang. Csaba Bujdoso, of Canfield, Ohio, who won the Runoffs last year but was disqualified due to an engine rules infraction, is third in his own Camaro.

In D Sports Racer, Mark Jaremko, of Spokane, Wash., exploded from the start and easily took qualifying day one in his Stohr 03D BPS, posting a mark of 1:23.914, almost two full seconds better than Matthew Direnzo, of Medford, N.J., who ran a time of 1:25.805 in his Stohr 03D. Jay Lovett, of Deerfield, Ill., brought his own Stohr DSR02 home in the third slot with a time of 1:26.734.

A couple of Californians made Mid-Ohio their own course in GT5. Doug Peterson, of Rescue, Calif., sped his Mini Cooper S to a time of 1:38.596, besting Joe Huffaker, of Petaluma, Calif., who encouraged his own Mini to turn the only other sub-1:39 time of the class at 1:38.600. Jim Rauck, of Grove City, Ohio, paced his Nissan 200SX to a time of 1:39.667, or about 1.1 seconds behind Peterson.

Justin Pritchard, of Granville, Ohio, jetted out to the lead and has the top spot by over half of a second in Formula Ford when he recorded best lap at 1:28.816. Pritchard's Piper DF-5 beat out efforts from John Larue, of Muncie, Ind. and his Citation (1:29.485), along with Jason Byers, of Livonia, Mich., whose Van Diemen RF-99 clocked in at 1:30.036.

All 24 classes will be back on the track tomorrow after taking the evening and a bit of the day on Wednesday to adjust cars and plans of attack forthe Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Second rounds of qualifying begin with the FC class set to fire its engines up at 8:00 a.m.

For results from day one or other information concerning the Valvoline Runoffs, visit www.scca.com.

-scca-

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Series SCCA
Drivers John Heinricy , Jacek Mucha , Kent Prather , Brad Stout , Jordan Sandridge , Joe Huffaker , John Fergus , Tom Nastasi , Glen Jung , Grayson Upchurch , Mark Jaremko , Jon Brakke , Jim Rauck , Jeff Miller , Scotty White , Justin Pritchard , Karl McColl , Csaba Bujdoso , Jack Ruscilli , Kevin Dennis , Frederick Baker , Steve Johnson , Matthew Di