RACE: Valvoline Runoffs: First day of racing report

New winners dominate day one of Valvoline Runoffs LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 19, 2003) -- The SCCA National Championship Valvoline Runoffs started in earnest on Friday, and with multiple first-time winners and the last race of the day, Grand ...

New winners dominate day one of Valvoline Runoffs

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 19, 2003) -- The SCCA National Championship Valvoline Runoffs started in earnest on Friday, and with multiple first-time winners and the last race of the day, Grand Touring 2, coming down to the last turn on the last lap, no one left the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course disappointed.

Eight different winners were recognized on the first day of three, but Friday's action only scratched the surface as 16 more fields of competitors watched the races and waited for their weekend turns at the 2.258-mile road course.

Remnants of Tropical Storm Isabel showed up early with breeze and showers, but moved on just before the start of the first race of the day, C Sports Racing.

In that race, John Mirro, of Bath, Pa., shot past both Canadian Jacek Mucha, of Laval, Quebec, and Keith Young, Jr., of Dallas, Texas as they connected and spun out during final lap 19 on the "Carousel," the last turn of the caution-shortened race. It was the first championship for Mirro and his Banana Joe's Ralt, which finished 1.718 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Dennis Pavlina, of Vancouver, Washington. Young, Jr. gathered himself fast enough after his spin in order to secure the bronze trophy.

In the day's second race, Mike Kramer, of Franklin, Tenn., led start to finish from his pole position and took the checkered flag by more than three seconds over silver trophy winner John Fernandez, of Rochester, Michigan. Tom Long, of Raleigh, N.C., rounded out the top three. The win gave Kramer his first ever Runoffs Championship.

G Production got its winner from the Land of Oz as Kent Prather, of Wakarusa, Kan., took advantage of the tough "Keyhole" portion of the Mid-Ohio course and scooted by Kevin Dennis, of Rochester, N.Y., on the fifth lap to claim his fifth Runoffs crown. Dennis made a late charge but ended up with the second prize, 0.788-seconnd behind Prather. Kevin Allen, of Covington, Ga., jumped up from fifth to earn the bronze.

The first Chicago Region Triple Crown winner of 2003 came out of Formula Atlantic as Rennie Clayton, of San Francisco literally drove his car to pieces in order to grab his first ever Runoffs FA championship. After a car-crushing blow in practice Monday which damaged all four corners and broke off his Ralt RT-41's nose, Clayton rebuilt the car in time to qualify first and then dominate the race, winning by a whopping 22.11 seconds. Daniel Selznick, of Phoenix, Ariz., and Ben Beasley, of Painesville, Ohio, finished second and third, respectively.

Usually it's a son following in a father's footsteps, but not so in Touring 2 where Mark Sandridge, of Westfield Center, Ohio, won his first championship. His son, Jordan, won here last year. Sandridge qualified third and then took advantage of pole-sitter Frederick Baker's opening lap mishap and his son's race-ending flat-tire on lap seven.

Keith Grant came into the Grand Touring 4 race Friday as SportsCar's pick to win the title and he didn't disappoint as he blew away the competition from start to finish in his Nissan 200SX to win going away by more than 7.8 seconds. Grant, of Cordova, Tenn., finished ahead of runner-up J. Warren Montague, of Manakin Sabot, Va., and third place finisher Michael Mazziotti, of Wexford, Pennsylvania.

Formula Mazda also produced a first-time winner as Doug Peterson, of Bonita Springs, Fla., survived an early push from James Goughary, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and then cruised home after Goughary went off on lap 14. Chris Schanzle, of Damascus, Md., was the primary beneficiary of Goughary's demise and finished second, 3.598 seconds behind Peterson. Robert Kaminsky, of Lockport, Ill., turned in some impressive lap times late, but they were too late and he finished third.

In the day's final and most exciting race by far, Grand Touring 2 came down to three drivers and the final turn on the final lap. Coming out of the "Carousel", barely 100 yards away from the checkered flag, race leader William Reid, of Knoxville, Tenn., and 12-time Runoffs winner Duane Davis, of Camas, Wash. made contact which sent both cars off course on the inside of the track and allowed James Goughary, Sr., of Houston, Texas, to sprint to the finish untouched and grab his first ever Runoffs win.

Eight more champions will be crowned on Saturday, starting with warm-up sessions at 8:00 a.m. The first race will be H Production at 10:00 a.m. For complete results, individual race recaps and other information concerning the SCCA National Championship Runoffs, visit www.scca.com and click on the Runoffs banners.

-scca-

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Series SCCA
Drivers Ben Beasley , Kent Prather , John Fernandez , Keith Grant , Duane Davis , James Goughary , Tom Long , Chris Schanzle , Mark Sandridge , Rennie Clayton , Keith Young , Dennis Pavlina , John Mirro , Mike Kramer , Kevin Dennis , Daniel Selznick , Frederick Baker , J. Warren Montague , Michael Mazziotti , Doug Peterson