LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 24, 2005) – Saturday’s action at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler crowned eight more champions, bringing the weekend’s total to 16, with seven championships left to be decided Sunday. -30-
While eight drivers were lucky to walk away with a coveted Runoffs title, several others walked away with some bumps and bruises after incidents in a couple of the day’s classes.
John Heinricy, of Holly, Mich., moved into third all-time on the SCCA’s list of Runoffs titles won when he blitzed the American Sedan field for his second win of the weekend and the ninth of his career, trailing only Jerry Hansen (27) and Duane Davis (12).
The final seven races of the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler are set for Sunday, with Showroom Stock C scheduled to wave the green flag at 10:05 a.m. (EDT) following warm-up sessions that begin at 8 a.m. The last race of the day, Grand Touring 2, is slated to begin at 4:15 p.m. To watch all race action via live timing and scoring, visit www.scca.com, where complete schedule information and results are located.
Recaps of all eight races from Saturday:
Race 9: Formula 500
Doug Marsh, of Eastlake, Ohio, captured his first National Championship Saturday, taking the Formula 500 class win at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Wiley McMahan, of Covington, Ga., and Michael Brent, of Bethel, Conn., completed the top-three.
In typical Formula 500 fashion, the start featured the 29-car field fanned out four-wide into the first turn. Holding the lead ahead of Brian Novak and Marsh, Brent witnessed former champion Aaron Ellis spin off-course in turn eight. Running nose-to-tail, the top-four repeatedly swapped positions throughout the opening laps, with Novak taking the lead early on. Working lap 10, Novak suddenly slowed in the carousel and pulled into the pits.
On the following lap, racing came to an abrupt halt, as the field was shown Black All, for an incident in turn one. Following a 13-minute stoppage, racing resumed with a restart on lap 13. Getting a great start, McMahan took the lead ahead of Steven Jondal and Marsh. Quickly recovering from his poor start, Marsh passed Jondal and began pressuring McMahan for the lead. Setting up the pass exiting turn one, Marsh took the lead in the keyhole turn on the final lap of the time-shortened race. Leading the remainder of the race, Marsh captured his first Formula 500 National Championship win by 6.30 seconds over McMahan.
“My plugs fouled on the restart and the engine would not pull,” said Marsh. “I was getting passed left and right. By the time I got into Thunder Valley the plugs cleared and the car ran well after that. I was able to get ahead on what turned out to be the last lap. Last year we had a minor machining error that cost us the win. But we made up for it this year.”
Jim Schultz, of Levittown, Pa., finished fourth, and Jondal, of Somerset, Wis., completed the top-five.
No. 38 Steven Jondal wins the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 15 positions, to finish fifth after starting 20th.
Race 10: Touring 2
Chuck Hemmingson, of West Des Moines, Iowa, outlasted a bruising SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler Touring 2 race Saturday morning at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to earn his first-ever Runoffs win and give Subaru its first Runoffs title. Kristian Skavnes, of Sparta, N.J., and Don Knowles, of Pittsboro, N.C., finished second and third, respectively.
Starting second on the grid, Hemmingson bolted past polesitter Dave Schotz, of Simi Valley, Calif., in his Subaru/Rotary Lift Subaru Impreza WRX STi to take an early lead as various others in the 43-car field sent each other sprawling off the 2.258-mile course.
Though the carnage continued beyond the opening lap, Hemmingson managed to build a two-second gap between him and Knowles’ Phoenix Performance Goodyear Pontiac Firebird. That lead disappeared on Lap 9 as a full-course caution, brought on by oil on the track at Turn 1 that sent multiple cars into the gravel, bunched the field back.
After the three-lap caution ended, Hemmingson sprinted away again, only to be reeled in by both Knowles and Skavnes’ Subaru/Goodyear/Valvoline Subaru Impreza WRX STi. Knowles bumped Hemmingson from behind going into the Esses. Only splendid driving by Hemmingson kept the Subaru on the track, and Knowles, showing great sportsmanship, remained in second place.
From there, Hemmingson broke away once again (to eventually win by 0.636-sec.), leaving Knowles and Skavnes to battle for second, where Skavnes eventually took the spot.
“I got tapped a couple of times at the start, but that wasn’t near as exciting as when Don touched me,” Hemmingson said. “I didn’t really expect that one. I was ready to save the first one, but the next one surprised me. I was pretty sideways, and had my foot on the throttle. I didn’t want to let off and lose a bunch of positions. I like being in the lead.
“You know, he bumped me and then gave me the chance to recover and get back to racing again.”
William Baten, of Indianapolis, Ind., put together a solid run to finish fourth after starting 13th, and William Ziegler, of Stamford, Conn., finished fifth.
No. 16 Michael Santos wins Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 16 positions to finish 10th after starting 26th.
Race 11: Formula Mazda
David Donovan, of Plantation, Fla., captured his first National Championship Saturday, taking the Formula Mazda class win at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Chris Schanzle, of Damascus, Md., and Robin Nicholas, of Haymarket, Va., completed the top-three.
Commencing just prior to the lunch break, Donovan got an ideal start, holding the lead into esses, as Robert Kaminsky passed two cars, moving second place. Behind the leaders, Triple Crown contender Fabio Castellani had a less than perfect start. Battling for position, Castellani spun in turn eight on lap two and was struck by Rodney Jensen and William Eriksen, ending all three drivers race. Pushing his car to the limit, Donovan steadily increased his lead, as Kaminsky battled Schanzle for second place.
Getting alongside Kaminsky under braking on lap eight, Schanzle passed for position in turn seven. Retaining the position for the following six laps, Kaminsky fell back to fifth on lap 14, when he spun off-course exiting Thunder Valley. Holding off a spirited last lap challenge by Schanzle, Donovan captured his first Formula Mazda National Championship by 0.686 second, leading flag-to-flag.
“Since I was on the pole I tried to race without making any mistakes,” Donovan. “I never had it easy though, as a blue car [Schanzle] was in my mirrors constantly. He was coming and if the race was a few laps longer I think that he could have passed me.”
Jim Goughary Jr., of Jupiter, Fla., finished fourth, and Kaminsky, of Lockport, Ill., completed the top-five.
No. 36 Mishael Abbott wins the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing seven positions, to finish 13th after starting 20th.
Race 12: American Sedan
Any visions that other drivers in the SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler American Sedan race had of unseating two-time defending champion John Heinricy were gone in a matter of moments after the green flag waved.
Heinricy roared around the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in his Tom Aquilante Racing Pontiac Firebird, opening up a lead as large as eight seconds before settling in and coasting to his third-straight A Sedan title – this one a 2.995-second win over Andy McDermid, of Grand Ledge, Mich. Kristian Smith, of Brighton, Mich., finished third.
While Heinricy, who earned was never challenged, the same couldn’t be said for McDermid, who overcame a spin on Lap 3 that dropped him to 14th. McDermid battled his way back through the field in his Goodyear/Lane Automotive/Red Line Ford Mustang and used a couple of small mistakes from other drivers ahead of him to fight his way back to a podium finish.
On the lap prior to his spin, which came after contact with Kyle Watkins, of Broomfield, Colo., who was in his Hoosier/Sensible Auto/Perf Machine Ford Mustang, McDermid set a new A Sedan race lap record with a 1:37.145 (84.492 mph).
As that battle and others unfurled behind him, Heinricy drove a clean race throughout, exercising the same style that had earned him eight championships previously, including the Touring 1 title, his fifth-straight in that class, on Friday.
“I felt fortunate to be on the pole and then be able to get away in Turns Seven and Eight and maintain my lead while other people behind me were beating each other up. That worked out pretty good,” Heinricy said. “This is the 124th win for a General Motors powered car at the Runoffs, and the third for a Pontiac, and I feel really great about having gotten that.”
Jerry Post, of Hoboken, N.J., finished fifth behind fourth-place finisher Watkins.
Jason Vonkluge, of Ann Arbor, Mich., won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 14 positions to finish 12th after starting 26th.
Race 13: Formula Continental
Niki Coello, of East Troy, Wis., captured his first National Championship Saturday, taking the Formula Continental class win at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Justin Pritchard, of Granville, Ohio, and Dave Weitzenhof, of Bath, Ohio, completed the top-three.
Leading the 34-car field to the green flag, polesitter Ricardo Vassmer maintained the lead into the esses. Going two and three-wide through turn seven and eight, Coello and 2004 Champion Brian Tomassi passed Cole Morgan, to move into second and third respectively. Attacking the 2.258-mile road course, Vassmer, Coello and Tomasi quickly began to build a lead on Pritchard, as he came under pressure from Bill Jordan.
Posting times marginally better than Coello, Vassmer established a one second lead by lap five. Behind the top-four, seven-time National Champion Weitzenhof began to work his way towards the front. Recovering from light contact with Shaffer at the start, Weitzenhof worked his way into fifth and closed on Pritchard. With the leaders evenly spaced apart, Tomasi slowed and pulled off-course on lap 16, promoting Pritchard and Weitzenhof to third and four respectively, as Vassmer continued to battle Coello for the lead.
Having lost his lead while encountering slower traffic, Vassmer attempted to lap Bill Johnson on lap 17. Making heavy contact exiting the carousel, Vassmer retired in turn one with damage. Inheriting the lead, Coello led unchallenged to the checkered flag, capturing his first Formula Continental Championship by 2.290 seconds.
“Vassmer pulled away in the beginning, more than I would have liked,” said Coello. “He was caught in traffic and I was able to gain on him there. He did not seem to be too consistent. I tried to be smooth, my tires were good, and I waited until the opportunity came. When I caught him he made his car very wide. I tried to pass a couple times but had to back off. Then he tried a pass of a back marker in the Carousel. I don't think that the other driver saw him and they went off. I don't like to win this way but I will take it!”
Jordan, of Waterford, Mich., finished fourth, and Tim Minor, of Falls Church, Va., completed the top-five.
No. 95 Alan Guibord wins the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 10 positions, to finish 16th after starting 26th.
Race 14: D Sports Racing
Some people like drama. Mark Jaremko, of Spokane, Wash., apparently isn’t one of those people as he opened a huge lead early in his Lee Stohr Cars/Goodyear/Red Line Stohr WF1 and went on to win the D Sports Racing portion of the 2005 National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler by over 30 seconds. Rod Morley, of Provo, Utah, finished second, and Matthew DiRenzo, of Medford, N.J., was third.
Dashing away from the very start in his pole position, Jaremko opened an 11-second lead over the rest of the field by Lap 3, utilizing a new DSR race lap record time of 1:21.606 (100.581 mph) to bolt from the other drivers and eventually take the win by 34.880 seconds. The record mark was almost two seconds faster than the previous best set by 2004 DSR Champion John Hill.
The 2005 Championship gave Jaremko, who was the fastest car in DSR all week, his third title in the past four years. And even though he made his third win look easy, Jaremko said things were far from it.
“After about five laps I lost my clutch,” Jaremko said. “That made it cumbersome to downshift. I drove hard for the first five laps and built a lead. Then I looked in my mirrors, backed off and conserved my tires. This is a brand new car, the latest from Stohr. It turned its first wheel here this week. It made life easier for me."
Steve Shelton, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., finished fourth, and Matthew DiRenzo, of Medford, N.J., completed the top five.
No. 40 James Boehm, of St. Louis, Mo., won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing nine positions to finish 12th after starting 21st.
Race 15: E Production
Kim Knapp, of Avon, Colo., captured his first National Championship Saturday, taking the E Production class win at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Erik Madsen, of Lakeville, Ohio, and Sam Halkias, of Westerville, Ohio, completed the top-three.
The largest field at the 2005 Runoffs, 50-cars, the start of E Production race was sure to be exciting. Starting from the pole position, Tom Thrash appeared to get a good start, maintaining the lead down the back straight. Exiting turn seven, Thrash and fellow front-row starter Buddy Norton III made contact with one another. Going off-course, Thrash made heavy contact with the tire barrier, while Norton III slowed, losing numerous positions.
Benefiting from the incident, Lawrence Loshak moved into the lead, ahead of Knapp and Pratt Cole. With a full-course caution displayed for the incident, racing resumed on lap three. Getting a great jump, Bob Neal passed several cars down the front to move into second place. Racing nose-to-tail, Loshak led a train of cars until lap 10, when racing was halted for heavy contact between Paul Pineider and Jon Brakke at the start/finish.
Following a 15-minute stoppage, the race resumed with green, white, checkered sprint to the finish. Entering turn seven on the restart, Loshak and Neal made contact, with both cars going off-course.
As several cars got into the grass to avoid the incident, John Schmitt inherited the lead ahead of Knapp and Halkias. Racing side-by-side on the final lap, Halkias briefly passed for the lead in turn seven, before Knapp, using the wide line through the turn vaulted into the led. Losing momentum, Halkias was then passed by Morton. Driving error free the remainder of the race, Knapp captured his first National Championship by 1.939 seconds over Morton, who finished second in his first career Runoffs start.
“The restart was tough,” said Knapp. “It was too slow and everyone ahead of me went to the right. I went to the left and went past all of them. It was lots of fun and real exciting. You just have to avoid all the troubles and hope that you get through.”
Schmitt, of Sunbury, Ohio, finished fourth, and Jeff Dernehl, of Woodstock, Ga., completed the top-five.
No. 20 Erik Madsen wins the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 17 positions, to finish second after starting 19th.
Race 16: Grand Touring 1
Lew Larimer, of Hayward, Calif., took home top honors in Grand Touring 1 at the 2005 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® Presented by Kohler Saturday, winning the 20-lap race by 8.925 seconds in his American Port Weld/Red Line Oil Oldsmobile Cutlass. Trevor Hopwood, of Lee, N.H., and Bryan Long, Peoria, Ill., completed the podium.
Saturday’s win was the second-consecutive Runoffs T1 win for Larimer, and the second of his career.
After a bobble at the beginning of the race left a wheel off the 2.258-mile course and him down a spot from his starting pole position, Larimer rebounded a couple of laps later, overtaking Hopwood’s Hoosier/Wild Bill’s Sports Bar Chevrolet Corvette and never looking back. Soon after retaking the lead, Larimer put the hammer down, breaking his own GT1 race lap record from a year ago by nailing a 1:24.582 (97.042 mph), which stretched his lead over the rest of the field.
Larimer backed that lap up with a mixed bag of high 1:24s and low 1:25s, effectively ending any other drivers’ hopes of taking the GT1 lead. Larimer’s run also was the 125th win for a General Motors-powered car.
“I went into turn one too deep and lost some grip. Trevor got past. I settled into a rhythm, and got relaxed. After a few laps I was able to catch up and finally got past. I built a lead so that I could relax a bit. But I was concerned about Michael Lewis coming up from behind, but he never got close enough to us.”
Michael Lewis, of Poway, Calif., finished fourth and earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 17 positions after starting the race 21st. Brian Kunbinski, of Plainfield, Ill., completed the top five, moving up from his starting ninth-starting position.
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