Reports from Friday's first set of National Championship races from the 50th SCCA Runoffs at Road America.
Sloe Outpaces Field in SCCA National Championship Runoffs American Sedan Race Win
Tom Sloe of Newbury, Ohio, claimed the American Sedan (AS) class victory in the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs on Friday at Road America, leading from start-to-finish in the 13-lap race. Finishing second was Michael Lavigne of Hooksett, N.H., while John Heinrich of Clarkston, Mich., finished third.
Driving the No. 74 Hutter Racing Engineering/Hoosier Ford Mustang, Sloe, the SafeRacer polesitter, survived a midrace battle with Andy McDermid of Howell, Mich., to earn his second career Runoffs win. His margin of victory was 15.975 seconds, and he averaged 96.080 mph around the 14-turn track.
The dominating victory Friday came a year after another strong performance by Sloe, one that ended in disappointment. After establishing a large lead in last year's AS race, Sloe's car suffered a broken in-take valve near the race's end, and he was passed heading up the hill to the start/finish line, dropping to third.
This year, Sloe battled McDermid during the first half of the race. The two ran nose-to-tail at the halfway point, with McDermid mounting a passing attempt for the lead. But when McDermid's No. 24 WeatherTech/Felice Performance Engineering Ford Mustang began to suffer handling problems on Lap 7, Sloe built an insurmountable lead. He pulled away, and ultimately added another first-place trophy to go along with the one he earned in 2009.
“It was nice to get this one,” said Sloe, who earned the Go-Pro Hero Move of the Race for the win. “I broke the shifter ball off and only shifted with the stick about three-quarters of the race. But we were determined to finish the last lap. We had them under control and broke an in-take valve. It was more than just a little disappointing last year.”
“I was a little loose there in the kink, but we just brought it home. The motor is a monster, just unbelievable.”
As his car struggled to maintain pace, McDermid was unable to hold off two challengers behind him. Lavigne, who started fourth in the No. 42 Auto Re-Nu-It Auto Body/Hoosier Ford Mustang, took over second on Lap 11.
“I just kept my pace,” said Lavigne, who equalized his career-best finish set last year. “It's hard to stay with Sloe and McDermid. I don't know what they've got, but I've been chasing them for many years; I just can't seem to find what I need. But we'll keep on playing with them, and get it someday, hopefully.
“Toward the end, I saw another champion, John Heinricy, so I had to keep in the throttle because he was going,” Lavigne added. “We ended up second, which I feel blessed for.”
Heinricy nipped McDermid at the checkered flag, driving the No. 56 TAR/Hoosier Pontiac Firebird. For Heinrich, it was his 15th career podium in 21 Runoffs starts; he has 11 wins to his credit.
“We had some trouble during the week, with all of the rain in practice and qualifying, so we didn't get to make a lot of changes on the car,” Heinricy said. “But we knew the direction we wanted to go, and we made the changes today. Finally, we went faster today than we did any session of practice or qualifying throughout the week, so we made great progress. We just kept pushing harder, especially the tires and the brakes. I learned how to use them, and just kept going faster and faster. Everything we did was the right stuff to make the car go. We just didn't start early enough.”
McDermid fell to fourth, though he did set the Hawk Hot Lap of 2:27.687 (97.504 mph). He was followed by Jeffrey Werth of Silver Spring, Md., in the No. 46 AEC/OG Racing Chevrolet Camaro. Scott Sanda, in the No. 73 Tro Manufacturering Cadillac CTS-V, was the Sunoco Hard Charger, picking up 16 positions and finishing 13th after starting 29th.
Provisional results for the Friday's SCCA American Sedan national championship at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Tom Sloe, Newbury, OH, Ford Mustang, 13.
2, (4), Michael Lavigne, Hooksett, NH, Ford Mustang, 13.
3, (6), John Heinricy, Clarkston, MI, Pontiac Firebird, 13.
4, (2), Andy McDermid, Howell, MI, Ford Mustang, 13.
5, (9), Jeffrey Werth, Silver Spring, MD, Chevrolet Camaro, 13.
6, (11), Jim Wheeler, Lenexa, KS, Pontiac Firebird, 13.
7, (5), Philip Smith, New Albany, OH, Chevrolet Camaro, 13.
8, (15), Amy Aquilante, Phoenixville, PA, Pontiac Firebird, 13.
9, (13), Thomas West, Standish, ME, Chevrolet Camaro, 13.
10, (12), Chris Pedersen, Mundelein, IL, Ford Mustang, 13.
11, (10), Dane Smith, Springdale, AR, Chevrolet Camaro, 13.
12, (17), Jerry Post, Sunset, SC, Chevrolet Camaro, 13.
13, (29), Scott Sanda, Western Springs, IL, Cadillac CTS-V, 13.
14, (16), Tom Smith, Springdale, AR, Chevrolet 0, 13.
15, (23), Eric Ritchie, Katy, TX, Pontiac Firebird, 13.
16, (24), Mark Muddiman, Belleville, MI, Ford Mustang, 13.
17, (25), Brian Thomas Himes, Slidell, LA, Ford Mustang, 13.
18, (26), Matt Regan, Addison, IL, Ford Mustang, 13.
19, (28), Philip Brabec, Island Lake, IL, Pontiac Firebird, 13.
20, (30), Kim McDonald, Grand Island, NE, Pontiac Firebird, 13.
21, (27), Kelly Lubash, Stamford, CT, Chevrolet Camaro, 13.
22, (31), Matt Naegle, Phoenixville, PA, Chevrolet Camaro, 12.
23, (32), Cheyne Daggett, Iowa City, IA, Ford Mustang GT, 12.
24, (36), Sean Maloney, Saint Charles, MO, Chevrolet Camaro, 12.
25, (35), David Venhaus, Milwaukee, WI, Ford Mustang Cobra, 12.
26, (34), Ian Maloney, Saint Charles, MO, Ford Mustang Cobra, 11.
27, (20), Dennis Careri, Boxford, MA, Ford Mustang, 9.
28, (7), Brian LaCroix, Hyannis, MA, Chevrolet Camaro, 7.
29, (19), Chris Qualls, Los Angeles, CA, Ford Mustang, 7.
30, (18), Scott Schweitzer, Lake Orion, MI, Ford Mustang, 6.
DNF, (8), Daniel Richardson, Rockville, MD, Chevrolet Camaro, 3.
DNF, (21), Tom Ellis, Sunrise, FL, Ford Mustang Cobra, 3.
DNF, (22), Bill Gray, Fayetteville, AR, Pontiac Firebird, 3.
DNF, (14), Gregory Eaton, Woodbridge, VA, Ford Mustang GT, 3.
DNF, (3), Edward Hosni, Galloway, OH, Ford Mustang, 1.
DNF, (33), Beth Aquilante, Arlington, VA, Chevrolet Camaro, 1.
Overall Time of Race: 32:28.372
Average Race Speed: 96.080 mph
Margin of Victory: 15.975 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:27.687
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 97.504 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #73 Scott Sanda
Lap Leaders: #74 – Laps 1-13
Warkocki Wins Second GT-3 Championship at Runoffs
Rob Warkocki, of Frankfort, Ill., earned his second Sports Car Club of America GT-3 class National Championship Friday at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Joe Kristensen, of London, Ontario, finished second, followed by Mike Henderson, of Alpine, Calif.
Driving the No. 78 TRO Manufacturing/Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-7, Warkocki started third but moved to the point on the first lap of the 12-lap, 48-mile race. His lead did not last long, though, as Kristensen put his No. 4 Acura RSX up front in Turn Five on the second lap.
The pivotal moment of the race came on the sixth lap as the GT-3 leaders worked through the back part of the GT-2 field. Running second, Warkocki and the GT-2 class Nissan 300ZX of Robert Lentz made contact entering Turn 13, with Lentz ending up in the barriers, necessitating a caution period two laps later to clean up the incident.
“We were side-by-side in the corner [Turn 12], but I was on the damp part of the track on the inside,” Warkocki recalled. “He got a better run out of the corner and I let off the gas to give him a little breathing room and he can scoot away. I don't know if he missed a shift. I'm not sure. Because, when I went back to the throttle after I lifted, I'm right on him; right on him to the point that I lifted his rear up and he was gone.
“It was really bad. It's not something that I do. The car looked pretty bad and I hope he's okay. We can fix cars, but fixing people is more difficult.”
Lentz was not injured in the incident.
When racing resumed, just two laps remained, and Warkocki hounded Kristensen, making his move for the lead under braking in Turn Eight. With that pass, Warkocki earned the GoPro HERO Move of the Race, and he held Kristensen off for the final lap around the four-mile circuit.
“In Turn Eight, in 2009, we lost a very good friend of ours named Tom Thrash. He was a fellow GT3 competitor and E Production champion. We were very close friends, and it still hurts. Every time I go through Turn 8, I think of him. Believe it or not, under hard braking there pulling in next to Joe, all I could think about was Tom. He was probably riding with me, it's very emotional.
“The last lap, there was a gamble,” Warkocki said. “I really, really had to push extremely hard to stay ahead of Joe, because he was coming. Again, you have that mindset where you're charging in there and hope there's not enough grip. And you're throwing cares to the wind because, if there's not, it's going to be bad. But if it is, I could win this whole thing. Obviously it paid off for us.”
Warkocki won his first Championship in 2010, but admitted he was better prepared to enjoy the second one.
“This time, I understand a little bit more about what happens,” Warkocki said. “I focused almost 25 years on winning the first one, and I never realized what happens after you win. I sat in this [interview] room almost three years ago, and I didn't even know about this. I didn't know what to expect. And I thought, if I ever win again, if I'm ever blessed enough to do that, I'm really going to enjoy this. I've experienced it now, and I can take a step back and really, really enjoy it. So this time is probably even sweeter than the first time, because I understand. Before, it was such a faraway dream and I didn't ever think I could do this. Now that I've done it twice, it's amazing.”
For Kristensen, it was his third runner-up finish at the National Championship Runoffs.
“I thought it was going to be my day,” Kristensen said. “I looked in my mirror and I saw Rob was a ways back, and we got some traffic there. The yellow came out, and Rob got the better of me on the start. He deserved to win, it was a great race and I loved it.
“I was pretty good through the Kink and the Carousel, Rob was pretty good on the front straight and through turn three. But all in all, we were pretty evenly matched.”
Henderson started his No. 12 Mazda/Red Line Oil/M2 Motorsports Mazda RX-7 from the SafeRacer Pole Position for the third time in his career, but dropped to third on the first lap, a position he would maintain throughout the run.
“Unfortunately, it rained and the track was pretty wet and I was a little bit tentative,” Henderson said. “It was a good thing for me that Rob took the point, because it helped me get around here. I saw a lot of guys going off in front and behind me, and I was tentative. The track dried out, and by that time, I couldn't catch up to them. The yellow got me there, but by that time we had two laps left and I didn't have a lot of tire. It didn't work out for me, but I had a great race.”
Wolfgang Maike finished fourth in his No. 42 Toyota/RedLine Oil/Hoosier Toyota Paseo, followed by Paul Young, in his No. 79 Young Engineering LLC/Hoosier Tire Ford Probe.
Warkocki earned the Hawk Hot Lap award for turning the fastest race lap at a 1:25.688 (98.841 mph), as well as the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing two positions in the race.
Provisional results for Friday's SCCA GT-3 National Championship at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (3), Rob Warkocki, Frankfort, IL, Mazda RX-7, 12.
2, (2), Joe Kristensen, London, ON, Acura RSX, 12.
3, (1), Mike Henderson, Alpine, CA, Mazda RX-7, 12.
4, (4), Wolfgang Maike, Santa Barbara, CA, Toyota Paseo, 12.
5, (5), Paul Young, Commerce Township, MI, Ford Probe, 12.
6, (7), Chad Bacon, Kingsport, TN, Toyota Celica, 12.
7, (6), James Hargrove, Surrey, BC, Honda Civic, 12.
8, (11), James Ashe, Prospect, CT, Mazda RX-7, 12.
9, (8), George Cichon, Rockton, IL, Mazda RX-7, 12.
10, (10), Ken Nelson, Novi, MI, Nissan 200-SX, 12.
11, (9), Steven Lustig, Chester, NJ, Acura Integra, 12.
12, (12), Mark Ward, Loxahatchee, FL, Toyota Paseo, 12.
13, (14), Robert Herman, Cairo, NE, Mazda RX-7, 12.
14, (13), Jim Stinehelfer, Frisco, CO, Mazda Miata, 12.
15, (15), Brian Haupt, Spring Hill, KS, Mazda RX-7, 12.
16, (16), Chris Stevens, Shawnee, KS, Mazda RX-7, 10.
17, (18), Dave Dobry, Plymouth, MI, Eagle Talon, 6.
DNS, (17), Jim Speights, San Antonio, TX, Mazda Miata.
Overall Time of Race: 37:34.847
Average Race Speed: 76.635 mph
Margin of Victory: 0.708-second
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: Rob Warkocki, 2:25.688 (98.841 mph)
Sunoco Hard Charger: #78 Rob Warkocki
Lap Leaders: Lap 1, #78 Warkocki; laps 2-10 Kristensen; laps 11-12 Warkocki
Aquilante wins GT2 class race in SCCA National Championship Runoffs
at Road America. Trent Hindman, of Ocean, N.J., finished second.
victory. He drove the No. 36 PhoenixPerformance/Hoosier Hawk Chevrolet Corvette.
Starting from the SafeRacer pole position, Aquilante briefly lost the lead in Turn 1 on the opening lap, slipping to third behind Hindman and Joe Koenig. But, attentive to ever-changing track conditions, he jumped back to the front moments later. He grabbed second from Hindman by Turn 3 and the lead from Koenig in Turn 5. From there, Aquilante set sail to a lead of nearly seven seconds before the only full course caution midway through the race.
On the Lap 12 restart, Aquilante said he “wanted to get into Turn 1 like there was no tomorrow, because I knew I had to clear them. Once their tires were going to come up to temperature it was going to be quite a fight.”
But that fight didn't happen. Aquilante brought the pack to the green flag slowly before jumping to a five-car length lead over Hindman by Turn 1. By the checkered flag, Aquilante had extended his lead to 4.370 seconds over Hindman. Aquilante also earned the Go-Pro Move of the Race and set the fastest race lap of 2:16.717.
“We thought that we had the past champion provisional, so we figured we'd run GT2,” said Aquilante, who earned his first Runoffs win in 2007 in the T1 class Heartland Park in Topeka, Kan. “Really, coming into this, I didn't know what to expect. But we figured we'd be pretty competitive.
“After qualifying on the first day, only a tenth of a second separating me and Trent, I knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Aquilante continued. “With the rain this morning, it made me really nervous until the track started drying out. Again, with our last minute sort of thing, we have experience with the Hoosier A6 tire, which we've run in touring classes. You're allowed slicks in GT2. We chose not to switch to those, and in the scheme of things, it worked, because on a half-dry, half-wet track, which we've experienced before here, the A6 comes up to temperature.
“Hats off to Hoosier on the A6; it's just an awesome tire,” Aquilante concluded. “And it's a good feeling to put Phoenix Performance up top in quite a short matter. It was a three-week conversion build, and it feels good to be able to do something like that.”
While Aquilante was busy, in his words, “disappearing,” Hindman and John Kachadurian battled throughout the race for second. Hindman and Kachadurian ran nose-to-tail the entire final lap, before finishing about six tenths of a second apart at the checkered flag.
For Hindman, the Runoffs rookie came up just short in giving himself a first-place trophy as his 18th birthday present.
“Coming into the Runoffs, there's always that aura around it,” Hindman said. “It's the Runoffs – a lot can happen. I'm just very happy the car came home clean and that we were able to survive the race itself. I'm a little bit disappointed that we were able to bring home the win, but overall, a big congrats to Andrew. Those Phoenix guys were on it all week long, and also, a huge thanks to all the Fall-Line guys. They've done a great job all year. I'd love to come back to the Runoffs, maybe next year, and give a go at it.”
The third-place finish for Kachadurian, driving the No. 80 Grey Fox Racing/Fall-Line/#keepitup Porsche GT3 Cup, was a career best. His previous best finish of fourth came last year in the T2 class.
“We wanted to get a good start and play nice,” Kachadurian said. “I was able to pick up a spot on the first lap when a friend slipped off the track. From there, I knew I had a defending national champion behind me, and too fast guys in front of me. I just tried to keep my nose clean and run a good race. I thought that the yellow would help me, but I knew it was going to take something big to pick up another spot. These guys drove a great race. I've been looking at the back of the No. 41 car much of the season, so hats off to him for the great season. And I knew when I saw Andrew on the entry list, it was going to be a tough job to reach the top step.”
Finishing fourth was Tom Wickersham of San Ramon, Calif., who drove the No. 01 Maine Straight Racing/Michelin Porsche 996 GT3 Cup. In fifth was Mark Boden of Winnetka, Ill., in the No. 40 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup.
James Berkeley, who drove the No. 57 BMG Management/Hoosier/Pabst Chevrolet Corvette, earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award, for improving seven positions – 16th to ninth.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Provisional results for the SCCA Friday's GT2 national championship at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
2, (2), Trent Hindman, Ocean, NJ, Porsche GT3 Cup, 13.
3, (4), John Kachadurian, Chicago, IL, Porsche GT3 Cup, 13.
4, (7), Tom Wickersham, San Ramon, CA, Porsche 996 GT3 Cup, 13.
5, (9), Mark Boden, Winnetka, IL, Porsche GT3 Cup, 13.
6, (12), Mark Pauly, Bettendorf, IA, BMW M3, 13.
7, (13), Russ Snow, Eden, NC, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
8, (8), Tom Patton, Hamilton, OH, Sunbeam Tiger, 13.
9, (16), Jason Berkeley, New York, NY, Chevrolet Corvette, 13.
10, (23), Robert Kelley, Huntington Beach, CA, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 12.
11, (19), Ken Muth, Snohomish, WA, Nissan 240SX, 12.
12, (18), Jason Lee, Dover, NJ, Audi TT Coupe, 12.
13, (21), Bud Matakaetis, North Haven, CT, Nissan 240SX, 12.
14, (5), Pete Peterson, Lumberton, NC, Toyota Celica, 7.
15, (6), Jim Goughary, Houston, TX, Nissan 350Z, 7.
DNF, (10), Robert Lentz, Leesburg, VA, Nissan 300ZX, 5.
DNF, (17), Tim Gray, Eden Prairie, MN, Porsche GT3 Cup, 3.
DNF, (22), Karim Talbot, Carpentersville, IL, Chevrolet Corvette, 2.
DNF, (3), Joe Koenig, Glenview, IL, BMW M3, 0.
DNS, (11), J. Kurt Roehrig, Lexington, NC, Chevrolet Camaro.
DNS, (14), Jerry Onks, Murfreesboro, TN, Chevrolet Corvette.
DNS, (15), Pratt Cole, Salt Lake City, UT, Dodge Viper.
DNS, (20), Tim Myers, Atlanta, GA, Dodge Viper.
DNS, (24), Erich W Joiner, Torrance, CA, Porsche 997 GT3 Cup.
Overall Time of Race: 37:14.457
Average Race Speed: 83.779 mph
Margin of Victory: 4.370 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:16.717
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 105.327 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #57 James Berkeley
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-13, #36 Aquilante