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SCCA June Sprints beat Sunday showers
The WeatherTech Chicago Region SCCA June Sprints, Round Six of the Northern Conference Majors Tour, wrapped on Sunday from Road America with 27 winners in nine race groups.
A picture perfect morning was threatened with a forecast of afternoon storms, which blew through in the form of a 15 minute shower that wet the track at the end of the Group Seven race and during the Group Eight race, but cleared up with sunshine immediately after.
The day was filled with high-end competition.
"I wasn't going to sit back," Scott Rettich said after winning the opening race. "It was time to do some racing and see how it shuffled out."
That theory applied to the entire day of racing. The highlights:
Group 1: The aforementioned Rettich was involved in a virtual dead heat with Brian Schofield at the finish line after an eventful race – so close that both drivers were certain that they were the winners at the end.
A visual examination, both in real time and through a review of the available in-car video, awarded the win to Rettich's No. 17 Alliance Autosport Spec Racer Ford by no more than six inches of total distance at the stripe.
Like Saturday, the front-running pair broke away early to set the pace of the race, with Schofield's No. 61 PM Racing Spec Racer Ford in the lead. John Greene, trying to keep pace in third, spun his No. 2 Jacky Jones Lincoln/PM Racing machine in turn seven.
Just behind Greene's spin, however, was an unrelated three-car incident in turn six. Rick Bartuska (No. 15 M/K Industries/Mundelien Spec Racer), Dana Webster (No. 4 Bluefields Capital Spec Racer), and Tom Muffler (No. 98 ArmedForcesMotorsports.com Spec Racer) were collected, bringing out a red flag to immediately halt the race and, eventually, a black flag to bring the field to pit lane.
Reverting back to the previous lap, Greene was regridded in third for the restart of the now-10 lap race. The field took the restart to start lap five, and again, the top three drivers worked away from the field.
Entering the final lap, the order was Schofield, Greene, and Rettich. Rettich moved back to second under braking in turn five, and then got a run up the hill in turn 14 and he and Schofield were in a drag race to the photo finish. Greene finished third, two car lengths behind the leaders.
Group 2: Sunday's Formula 500 and Formula Vee races were virtual replays of Saturday, with Formula 500 winner Clint McMahan and FV champ Michael Varacins pulling away from the field with impressive drives to the finish.
McMahan's No. 12 Formula600Racing.com/Satellite Racing Scorpion FDS 007 was even quicker than Saturday's race, stretching his advantage to more than 30 seconds at the finish. His closest competition, Michael Mueller, fell out early with a cracked header pipe on the No. 24 MJ Mfg/Fibeco/Hoosier/HRP/Speed Seat Red Devil/Rotax.
In Formula Vee, Varacins' No. 65 Spee dsport/Veetech/Hoosier Speed Sport AM-5/Volkswagen was again well out in front. The podium finishers were identical despite once again running in a pack, with Ron Whitston (No. 5 Subway/Hoosier Protoform P2) crossing just in front of Andrew Whitston (No. 9 Rocket Motors/Subway/Hoosier Protoform P2) and Bruce Livermore (No. 37 BBBuilds/VeeTech/BRP/Hoosier Mysterian X-M2).
Group 3: The racing saying "cautions breed cautions" was fresh in Todd Lamb's mind during a lap 10 restart on Spec Miata, and knowing that helped him to a win on Sunday.
With nine cars in the lead pack early in the race, a two-car incident near turn seven dislodged the tire barrier and brought out a full course caution.
Danny Steyn's No. 39 ADEPT Studios/ROSSINI/OPM Mazda Miata lost the lead immediately at the start of Friday's race when his restart speed allowed the cars behind him to get a head of steam and draft by him going into turn one. When he brought the field single-file to the restart on lap 10, Steyn used a slower approach up the hill to try to hold the lead.
Unfortunately, rather than following the field to the green flag, drivers in the middle of the pack tried to anticipate the restart going through turn 13. Eight cars were collected in the carnage and scattered throughout the Kettle Moraine countryside, all before the green flag came out.
Unaware at the time of the extent of the damage, Steyn took the lead through turns one, two and three, with Lamb's No. 80 Cahall/Driving Coach/Hawk Performance Miata drafting down the hill toward turn five. Steyn left the door open to the inside, and Lamb went past.
Lamb completed the move just before the full course caution flags came back out, freezing the field and bringing out the checkered flag early to complete clean-up . Lamb took home the winner's trophy, with Steyn second and the No. 97 East Street Racing Miata of Eric Stearns third.
Group 4: Five official lead changes between two drivers dotted the Formula F race as Reid Hazelton and Tim Kautz went head to head for the full 13 laps.
How closely were they matched? At the halfway point, the timing monitors showed the gap between the two drivers across the stripe as 0.000!
Kautz' No. 88 Braeburn/Two Dogg/Hoosier Piper DF3D/Honda led the start of the final lap, but with the stiff wind down the backstraight and Hazelton's No. 01 Hoosier Van Diemen RF 92 tucked in behind him, Hazelton moved into the lead and held on to the finish. Hazelton led by 0.301-second across the finish line.
Group 5: Three drivers seemed to exorcise some recent demons this weekend with sweeps in the Production classes.
Jim Daniels had been bitten by enough little mechanical issues at Road America, both at the June Sprints and previous SCCA National Championship Runoffs, but recovered this weekend with a pair of victories. Daniels' No. 176 WebLaps.com Mazda MX-5 pressed the pace from start to finish, running early with Joe Moser's No. 6 Hoosier/King Motorsports/Moser Racing Honda Prelude in a battle for the lead. Moser pulled off course early, with Daniels well ahead of Jon Brakke's No. 89 Margaret Peterson Bars Mazda Miata, and Daniels pushed to the finish.
Ken Kannard swept F Production at his home course in the No. 51 Northwest Cable Construction/Hoosier Mazda Miata. The wins will, at least, cover five years of Road America Runoffs disappointment for Kannard, who had a series of issues that kept him from his true potential at the event.
Greg Gauper entered the weekend without a win in 27 tries at the June Sprints. He leaves on a two-race winning streak, sweeping H Production in the No. 15 Rana Mort Racing/King Motorsports Honda Civic. Gauper battled early with William Trainer's No. 7 Volkswagen Scirocco, swapping the lead until Gauper got clear on lap eight. Two laps later, Trainer had pulled in with mechanical difficulties, and Gauper was clear to the finish.
Group 6: Jeremy Hill and Alex Mayer battled in Formula 1000 for the second day in a row, each in a position to have a chance to win at the end.
Jeremy Hill's No. 00 Hoosier Tire Photon VD07 was in front on lap 11 with Mayer in hot pursuit when they came up on a position battle between two Prototype 2 cars in turn seven. Hill was the first to make a decision, and chose to try to go around on the left; Mayer moved his No. 77 Mayer Motorsports JDR to the right; the Prototype cars moved to the left. Hill, making the wrong choice, went through the grass to go around the lapped traffic and fell behind Mayer.
Hill didn't give up, though, and by the final lap had closed back to the gearbox of Mayer entering turn 14. At that point, Hill was certain he had a shot to win the drag race up the hill, but didn't have his typical power from the motor. Shy of the finish, his engine popped, and Hill coasted across the finish line with a blown motor and his radiator filled with grass clippings as Mayer took the win.
James French shared the Father's Day podium with his father, Brian French, in the Prototype 1 class. The younger French led the distance in the No. 46 Motorsports Enterprises Inc. Swift 014, which Brian drove his No. 45 Motorsports Enterprises Inc. Ralt RT-41 to the runner-up finish.
Richard Colburn swept the Prototype 2 weekend in the No. 97 Amari Metals NosTendo.
Group 7: Rains started to fall on lap nine of the scheduled 13 lap race, wisely bringing out the checkered flag for the Touring cars and American Sedan.
Out on slicks, Andrew Longe's No. 02 Trianon/Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 and Andy McDermid's No. 24 WeatherTech/Felice Performance Engines/T&A Shock Ford Mustang again swept the top spots overall.
Ron Pawley was a two-time winner in Super Touring Under over the weekend, piloting to a sweep in his No. 04 J. Pauley Toyota/Scion Lexus IS300. Brian Kelm maxed out his available points in B-Spec with two wins in the No. 12 Ford Fiesta, while Mark Boden snuck in with a Touring 3 win on Sunday in the No. 4 Fall-Line BMW M3.
Group 8: All of the front running machines in the big formula group went out on rain tires, as the race began wet. However, the strategy all changed late in the race when the sun came out and the track started to dry.
Fabio Castellani led the opening 11 laps in the wet, and continued to get quicker in the No. 97 Hoosier/ABRO/Pro-one Swift 014/Toyota as the race went on. His problem, though, was that by lap 10, when a clear, dry line began to appear, Sedat Yelkin's No. 75 Everclear/K-Hill Swift 016/Mazda was going even faster.
Yelkin moved around Castellani on lap 12 and looked clear, until he realized that Conner Kearby's No. 56 GK Motorsports Swift 016/Mazda was even quicker by that point. Kearby closed a second and half on the final lap, getting to the gearbox of Yelkin at the checkered flag, but probably falling one lap short of challenging for the lead.
In Formula Continental, Gerald Kraut's No. 55 Formula Continental and Devin Lesueur No. 05 OSQ/Hoosier Tire Van Diemen each took a turn at the front of the battle in the wet, racing each other and sitting behind a faster, at least up the straightaways, Formula Atlantic machine. On lap five, Kraut moved around the Atlantic machine, but Lesueur was held up for another lap. That gap was all Kraut needed to stay in front and take the win.
Group 9: Two race wins at the June Sprints in a GT-1 machine is a career achievement for many drivers – Cameron Lawrence has now done it in just two career starts in the class.
Lawrence stuck his No. 40 Fan Rag Chevrolet Corvette in the lead at the green flag and was chased for 10 full laps of the 15-lap big bore race by Cliff Ebben – no stranger to Road America race wins himself. Ebben was within a second for that 40 miles in the No. 36 Lamers Motor Racing Ford Mustang until pulling off with a mechanical failure in the carousel. From there, Lawrence finished his perfect weekend unchallenged to the victory lap.
Mark Boden drove his No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche GT3 to his second win of the day, pulling away from Saturday winner Alan Kossof's No. 23 Kossof Motorsports/Fall-Line Porsche GT3 for the Touring 1 win. John Kachadurian swept GT-2 in the No. 80 Chicago Motor Cars/Grey Fox Racing Porsche GT3, while George Chichon, Jr., did the same in GT-3 behind the wheel of the No. 39 Hoosier/MAZDASPEED/Cichon Racing Mazda RX-7.
The Northern Conference Majors Tour continues July 12-13 with Rounds Seven and Eight at GingerMan Raceway. The next U.S. Majors Tour events are the BFGoodrich Tires Watkins Glen Super Tour at Watkins Glen International, in the Eastern Conference, and Portland International Raceway, in the Western Conference, both July 4-6.
More information on the WeatherTech Chicago Region SCCA June Sprints, including results, can be found at SCCA.com/JuneSprints. A direct link to results from the weekend can be found at http://www.scca.com/events/results.cfm?eid=6736.
Provisional race winners for Sunday's WeatherTech June Sprints at Road America, Round Six of the SCCA Northern Conference Championship. Drivers are listed by Class: name, hometown, and car.
American Sedan: Andy McDermid, Howell, Mich., Ford Mustang
B-Spec: Brian Kelm, Plymouth, Mich., Ford Fiesta
E Production: Jim Daniels, Germantown, Tenn., Mazda Miata
F Production: Ken Kannard, East Troy, Wis., Mazda Miata
H Production: Greg Gauper, Hubertus, Wis., Honda Civic
Formula 500: Clint McMahan, Covington, Ga., Scorpion FDS 007
Formula 1000: Alex Mayer, Harleysville, Pa., JDR
Formula Atlantic: Sedat Yelkin, Austintown, Ohio, Swift 016/Mazda
Formula Continental: Gerald Kraut, Saint Paul, Minn., Formula Continental
Formula Enterprises: Scott Rettich, Columbus, Ohio, Formula Enterprises/Ford
Formula F: Tim Kautz, Geneva, Ill., Piper DF3D/Honda
Formula Mazda: Dale VandenBush, Green Bay, Wis., Formula Mazda
Formula Vee: Michael Varacins, Burlington, Wis., Speed Sport AM-5
GT-1: Cameron Lawrence, Windermere, Fla. Chevrolet Corvette
GT-2: John Kachadurian, Chicago, Ill., Porsche GT3
GT-3: George Cichon, Jr., Rockton, Ill., Mazda RX-7
GT-Lite: Chris Bovis, Lawrence, Kan., Honda CRX
Prototype 1: James French, Sheboygan, Wis., Swift 014
Prototype 2: Richard Colburn, Northbrook, Ill., NosTendo 2
Super Touring Lite: Jim Drago, Memphis, Tenn., Mazda Miata
Super Touring Under: Ron Pawley, Greenwood, Ark., Lexus IS300
Spec Miata: Todd Lamb, Atlanta, Ga., Mazda Miata
Spec Racer Ford: Scott Rettich, Columbus, Ohio, Spec Racer Ford
Touring 1: Mark Boden, Buffalo Grove, Ill., Porsche GT3
Touring 2: Andrew Longe, Naples, Fla., Porsche GT3
Touring 3: Mark Boden, Buffalo Grove, Ill., BMW M3
Touring 4: Daniel Bender, Northbrook, Ill., Mazda MX-5
Image: Scott Rettich leads Brian Schofield on the way to a photo finish in SRF.
Credit: Mark Weber
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