LEXINGTON, Ohio (September 21, 2002) -- The Sports Car Club of America Valvoline Runoffs® are two-third complete, with the Mid-Ohio action Saturday afternoon crowning five more National Champions. Additionally, another title may go to a driver that didn't cross the finish line first.
In 2001, John Heinricy, of Holly, Mich., lapped the entire Touring One class in the rain, a feat that had only occurred twice before. While the feat was not repeated in 2002, Heinricy still dominated the field, leading every lap from the pole in his Phoenix Performance Automotive Chevrolet Corvette.
"I have a lot of miles on this track since I first ran it in 1984," said Heinricy, a General Motors Engineer. "Lots of Nationals, and many endurance races in the old Escort Endurance Series and in the World Challenge. I don't have to spend any time learning the track so that can be a bit of an advantage. Phoenix Performance Cars put together a great car for me. It was a late decision to defend the title this year. The car was just great, I was very confident, the tires were great and even though the track was a bit slick it was not a problem."
Bobby Archer, of Ft. Worth, Texas, finished 15.21 seconds behind in second, followed by Bob Schader, of Boulder, Colo., Tom Lyons, of Harrisburg, Pa., and Scotty White, of Puyallup, Wash.
Instead of preparing for a run at the Formula Ford National Championship, Justin Pritchard, of Granville, Ohio, was battling pancreatitis this summer. After spending three weeks in the hospital and seven weeks on a strict IV diet of an IV, Pritchard was cleared to drive less than a month before the beginning of the Runoffs.
Meanwhile, Don Sievenpiper was busy developing his new Formula Ford car, the Piper DF5. When Pritchard was cleared to drive in August, they went testing and came to the Runoffs. The rest is Runoffs history, as Pritchard dominated qualifying and the race in the Hoosier/Piper/ Andresen Engines sponsored vehicle, taking the Formula Ford National Championship by 8.867 seconds for his second-career title.
"A couple of weeks back, we went to Road America to see if I could race," said Pritchard. "My biggest concern even coming into the race was if I could do 20 laps. My doctor said I needed to avoid strenuous activity, but I was able to make it through 20 laps. Now having two Championships, I think the last is always the best."
Former Champions Chris Winkler, of Farmington Hills, Mich., and Thomas Schweitz, of Winchester, Va., completed the podium Todd Bardwell and Scott Rarick completed the top five.
Duane Davis, of Camas, Wash., captured his 12th SCCA National Championship driving a Valvoline/TRD/Toyota/Goodyear Toyota Celica in GT-2. It was Davis' second-consecutive win, and he remains second on the all-time wins list, trailing only Jerry Hansen's amazing 27 victories.
"The first turn was close," said Davis, who won his first title in 1985. "I got through okay, and the others fell in line behind me. David [Finch] was close for several laps and then I was able to pick up a couple tenths per lap. The track got slick late in the race, but my car handled it just great. I felt that if Finch got by me that I had enough left that I could get him back."
Multi-time Champion Finch, of Ann Arbor, Mich., was second, followed by Bill Reid, of Knoxville, Tenn., Jim Goughary Sr., of Houston, Texas, and Tom Patton, of Hamilton, Ohio.
Kent Prather, of Wakarusa, Kan., earned his fourth National Championship in G Production and his first since 1995, coming out on top of a fierce battle with Mark Dennis, of Rochester, N.Y., late in the race. Prather held on to a 0.692-second victory in his Prather Racing/Victoria Brits MGA.
"I was surprised at my power down the straight," said Prather after the race. "That let me get one, then another as the race went on. We spent a lot of money on the engine this year and it all paid off."
Dennis finished second, followed by Karl McColl, of Arvada, Colo., Jeff Grove, of Auburndale, Fla., and George Bachman, of Maumee, Ohio.
In the day's final race, Mark Jaremko, who was battling for a podium finish in Formula Ford before crashing out late, battled back from a mid-race spin to take his first-career win in D Sports Racing. Jaremko, who started third in his brand-new Jaremko Nissan/SAAB/Loyning Engines Stohr 03D, battled with Michael Reupert, Al Beasley Jr. and Jason Miller for the lead early, before a tap from Beasley on a restart sent him back in the field.
Jaremko charged back, getting assistance from a full-course caution in his quest for the top step on the podium, and took the lead from Reupert, of Hubertus, Wis., with three laps to go.
"The spin that dropped me back was a little my fault," said Jaremko. "I didn't know that the restart was on the back straight, and I took off when I got to the finish line. When I got around to the back straight, I slowed way down thinking I was in the wrong and then the green flag came out. It was a jam into the esses and Al Beasley Jr. got into me and spun me out. Thank goodness for the yellow. I was able to make up the ground I lost."
Reupert held on to second, 0.291-second back, followed by Damon Anderson, of Aurora, Colo., Al Beasley Sr., of Willoughby, Ohio, and Miller, of Plymouth, Wis.
A second National Championship from Friday appears to be in doubt, as a revised provisional result has been posted for American Sedan, disqualifying winner Csaba Bujdoso for a technical issue. Bujdoso is protesting the decision, meaning a final will not be out until Sunday. As it stands, Bob Hahn, of Nacogdoches, Texas, who crossed the finish line third, may very well be the Champion. The second place finisher was disqualified for an on-track incident.
For complete results, visit www.scca.org. The 39th Valvoline Runoffs concludes with eight more races on Sunday.