Jon Brakke, of Fargo, N.D., cruised to his second-career Pace American E Production National Championship during the 47th SCCA Runoffs Presented by Subway at Road America. Greg Ira, of Plantation, Fla., and Aaron Downey, of Rossmoor, Calif., were second and third, respectively.
Brakke, who started from the Gumout pole in the No. 89 Margaret Peterson Bars Mazda Miata, fell back to third on the first lap. On the next lap, he passed Downey for second. In fact, he was right behind the then race leader Ira when the full course caution came out on lap three to remove the No. 64 Snader Racing/Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8 of Austin Snader from the Kink.
On the lap-six restart, Brakke got a great run coming up the hill just before the start/finish line to grab the lead from Ira. From there, Brakke cruised to a 16.432 second win and, in the process, set a new E Production SCCA Runoffs fast lap record with a time of 2:28.758 (96.802 mph).
"As I thought, Greg [Ira] got me at the start," Brakke said. "But, I didn't see this one [Downey] coming, though I was not surprised. The Miata just doesn't have quite the good pulling power that the RX-3 and the Nissan do. Then, it was a matter of running my own race. The Miata's forte is handling. From corner five to the last corner is where the Miata shines. I thought if I could get ahead, so that there was no fighting in the corners, we would be able to show the kind of times that we turned in qualifying. Then, the throttle stuck open."
Due to the stuck throttle, Brakke had to use more brake in the final laps to account for this problem. In fact, Brakke did not take a victory lap because of the stuck throttle.
"I don't think this [win] is any more meaningful [than his first SCCA National Championship win], nor any less meaningful," Brakke said. "SCCA is a great organization, with great drivers. It's a privilege [to win]."
Driving the No. 2 First Coast Auto Finance/HealthLink Nissan 240Z, Ira got great jump at the race start and took the early lead. Unfortunately, his lead was short-lived due to the full-course caution. Under caution, Ira decided he was going to employ a "NASCAR" type restart strategy to keep Brakke behind him when the race when green. The plan did not quite work. Brakke was already side-by-side with Ira down the front straight and Brakke never looked back.
"My car seems to be fast right from the start, with minimum warmup," Ira said of his early race lead. "I tried to go with the fastest pace I could. Aaron [Downey] and Jon [Brakke] were mixing it up a bit. I think a led by about three seconds. I put my head down and did not even look in my mirrors. That [the win] is something I might have pulled off had the race stayed green.
"I had an idea of what I wanted to do on the restart, which did not work at all. [I planned] sort of a NASCAR-type start where you might go a little bit before you see the green. He [the starter] really held it for a long time. Jon had a good run and so did Aaron. They both passed me going into [Turn] One. So, that didn't work. But, once Jon got warmed up, I baked my car trying to keep the same interval and that really didn't work."
Downey started fourth in the No. 5 roundpeg.com/Mazda Motorsports Mazda RX-3 and ran as high as second. On the restart, Downey was third and hoped to push Brakke and Ira for the lead. Unfortunately, Brakke and Ira proved to be too much and Downey finished third.
"I kind of set a strategy for myself," Downey said of his race. "[I figured] if I could stay with them in the corners, I thought I would have enough horsepower to actually stay with them down the straightaway. And, with the way these two [Brakke and Ira] have battled for years, at the June Sprints and at the Runoffs, that they would give me enough time to work myself into a groove and stay with them, which was the case for a lap and half - maybe two laps. But, Jon came on strong. His tires definitely came in. His motor woke up and he was gone.
"Then the caution came out and I thought, 'Well, maybe there's an opportunity to do this again. Who knows what might happen?' Once the restart happened, I had a great race to Turn One. Greg [Ira] got me in Turn Five and that was the last I saw of anybody. There wasn't much racing for me after that."
Sam Moore drove the No. 17 Hoosier Tire/Bavarian Motors/OPM BMW Z3 to a fourth-place finish and James Simaras finished fifth in the No. 95 Maszk Motorsports Mazda RX-7.
Michael Sturm, Stephen Epperly, Brian Haupt, Rick Kosdrosky, and Jason Albright finished sixth through 10th, respectively.
Donald Walsh was the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing 13 positions throughout the race. Walsh started 29th and finished 16th in No. 47 Classic Auto Mazda RX-7.
Now in its 47th year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Subway annually crowns Champions in the Sports Car Club of America's Club Racing classes. The live broadcast of all 28 National Championship races will be available throughout the weekend at www.Speedcasttv.com/scca and later available On Demand from the same site.
Follow the action on Twitter @SCCAOfficial or the SCCA, Inc. Official Facebook page at facebook.com/sccaofficial.
More information is available at www.scca.com/runoffs.
Attached image: Pace American E Production National Champion Jon Brakke.
Credit: John Steflik
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Provisional Results from Friday's Pace American E Production National Championship Race, part of the 47th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Jon R Brakke, Fargo, ND, Mazda Miata, 13.
2, (2), Greg Ira, Plantation, FL, Nissan 240-Z, 13.
3, (4), Aaron Downey, Rossmoor, CA, Mazda RX-3, 13.
4, (11), Sam Moore, Kannapolis, NC, BMW Z3, 13.
5, (8), James Simaras, Oconomowoc, WI, Mazda RX-7, 13.
6, (6), Michael Sturm, Grafton, WI, Honda Prelude Si, 13.
7, (12), Stephen L Epperly, Salem, OR, Datsun 260-Z, 13.
8, (18), Brian T Haupt, Spring Hill, KS, Mazda RX-7, 13.
9, (16), Rick Kosdrosky, Granbury, TX, Caterham 7 America, 13.
10, (17), Jason Albright, Clayton, OH, Mazda RX-7, 13.
11, (22), Greg Kasprzyk, Yatesville, PA, BMW 318i, 13.
12, (19), Charlie Clark, Mission, KS, Mazda RX-7, 13.
13, (21), Sydney Davis, Cypress, TX, Mazda Miata, 13.
14, (25), Rich Olsen, South Barrington, IL, Mazda RX-7, 13.
15, (24), Ron Olsen, Barrington, IL, Mazda RX-7, 13.
16, (29), Donald Walsh, Orrtanna, PA, Mazda RX-7, 13.
17, (26), Steven R Hays, Milton, WI, Mazda RX-7, 13.
18, (13), Steven A Hickham, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Mazda RX-8, 12.
19, (28), Larry A Svaton, Alvin, TX, Caterham 7 America, 12.
20, (10), Steve Smyczek, Brookfield, WI, Mazda RX-7, 12.
21, (27), W. Fred Albright, Tipp City, OH, Mazda RX-7, 12.
22, (15), Terry Jesk, Mokena, IL, Mazda Miata, 11.
23, (14), Gary L Martz, Canton, OH, Mazda RX-7, 10.
24, (3), Mark Brakke, Coon Rapids, MN, Mazda Miata, 8.
25, (9), Don Tucker, Memphis, TN, Mazda Miata, 8.
26, (7), Samuel Halkias, Westerville, OH, Triumph TR6, 7.
27, (30), George Olsen, Barrington, IL, Austin-Healey 3000, 7.
DNF, (5), Austin Snader, Brookshire, TX, Mazda RX-8, 1.
DNS, (20), Dennis Golden, Danville, CA, Mazda RX-7, 0.
DNS, (23), Don Bunt, Rockford, IL, Datsun 240-Z, 0.
Winner's average speed: 81.269 mph
Fastest race lap: #89 Jon Brakke, 2:28.758 (96.802 mph)
Lap Leaders: 1-4, #2 Greg Ira, 5-13, #89 Jon Brakke
Sunoco Hard Charger: #47 Donald Walsh