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• For detailed coverage of the 50th SCCA National Runoffs, go to scca.com/runoffs. The races can also be seen live Sept. 20-22, on www.SpeedcastTV.com.
Bovis Narrowly Bests Lentz at the Line to Win GT-Lite at 50th SCCA Runoffs
Chris Bovis, of Lawrence, Kan., beat Bobby Lentz, of Chantilly, Va., by 0.007-second to win his second-career GT-Lite National title at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Bovis' win is the closest Runoffs finish in the transponder era. Steve Sargis, of Frankfort, Ill., finished third.
Bovis started fifth in the No. 78 JDM Motorsports/Hoosier Tire Honda CRX and spent the first nine laps battling Kent Prather, of Wakarusa, Kan., in the No. 26 Prather Racing/Mazdaspeed/Moss Motorsports Mazda Miata for second. The two swapped spots several times before Bovis finally got by Prather for good on lap 10. From there, Bovis had his sights set on then race leader Lentz.
Bovis turned the Hawk Performance Hot Lap of the Race (2:33.161, 94.019 mph) en route to catching Lentz. On the final lap, Bovis was right behind Lentz's No. 60 FGR/Hoosier/Nissan Sentra SER heading into turn 12. By the time both cars exited the corner, they were side-by-side. After contact side-by-side, Bovis tucked in behind Lentz heading into the final corner, which set up a sling shot move around Lentz up the hill to the stripe. At the line, Bovis was just inches in front of Lentz, which earned Bovis the GoPro Hero Move of the Race.
“We got a great start, and were able to focus,” Bovis said. “We had a huge gap, and I really was not happy to see that yellow flag come out to pull everybody back together. Once Kent [Prather] got around me, that was really the first time I really had to get around one guy that had a pace. That took a lot longer than I wanted it to. He's a pretty tough competitor. Once we got around him, I figured honestly that we were going to run out of time and run out of laps. I was yelling at myself in the car, pounding the steering wheel, trying to get myself psyched up to run him down. And, we almost did.
“The difference between Bobby's laps and my lap's was just a matter of a few feet here and there. I was trying to figure out where I was quicker. It was just marginally quicker. The best thing I had was [Turn] 13, which is a terrible place to do anything. I'd love to tell you I had a plan, but I consciously thought going into [Turn] 3, this is just going to happen somewhere. Road America is a very important place for me. I grew up here. I've seen a lot of drivers run here differently. I just know sometimes here, if somebody is diving really hard into the corner, you can square the corner up, cut back, and just lengthen the straightaway up, and sometimes it works. That's honestly the only option I had. It was the last lap and the best opportunity, and it was what it was.”
Lentz started from the Saferacer pole position and wasn't seriously challenged for the race lead until Bovis caught him on lap 11. At that point, Lentz had to drive defensively to keep Bovis behind him. On the final lap, Lentz knew he and Bovis would have a drag race to the finish coming out of turn 14.
As bad luck would have it, and for the second straight year, Lentz was beat at the line by the narrowest of margins. This year, he lost by 0.007-second. Last year, Prather beat Lentz by 0.023. In two years, Lentz has missed winning a National Championship by a total time of 0.030-second. Lentz now owns three-career Runoffs podium finishes.
“He just got a great run, a great run on me, coming out of Canada [Corner],” Lentz said. “We went through Billy Mitchell Corner side-by-side. I got back over on the outside, and it was just a drag race up the hill to the finish line.
“I was hoping I was going to win. I could see him creeping, creeping, creeping. Frankly, all I thought was, here we go again. It was exactly what happened to me last year. I just got out-motored up the hill.
“Frankly, it's just impossible for it to sink in that it's happened to me two years in a row. In a million years, I would have never guessed that I would have the first and second closest finishes, and to be second in both of them two years in a row. My thought after qualifying was, if I could be heads down and run my race, I should be able to win this thing.”
Sargis, a seven-time Runoffs Champion, started 12th in the No. 8 SBS Batteries/Hoosier Tire Triumph Spitfire and moved up into the top five by lap three. By lap five, he was in fourth – a position he held until the final lap when he passed Prather in Canada Corner for the final podium spot. Sargis now has 16-career Runoffs podiums.
“My plan was just to be cautious,” Sargis said. “I didn't think I had a chance to win, and I wasn't sure how the car was going to run. It seemed to run good today. When I got around a bunch of guys and I got around [Peter] Shadowen, I was like, oh, it can't be too bad, because I know he is one of the top guys.
“Then the yellow came out, and I was like, uhhh. On the restart, Bobby Clark flew in front of me and got sideways in [Turn] 1, and kind of killed all of my momentum. So it took pretty much the rest of the race to catch Kent [Prather] again. I don't know if he was having handling problems or was protecting his line too much, but he ended up going into Canada [Corner]. I took the normal line and took a good, sweeping turn. He was drifting wide through there anyway, and with the inside line, he really got wide. I got underneath him in Billy Mitchell Corner, and I think he went off in the last corner. I'm happy; it was fun.”
Sargis was the Sunoco Hard Charger after improving nine positions. He started 12th and finished third.
Bob Clark, of Glendale, Wis., finished fourth in the No. 77 JDM Group/Raglin Racing Honda CRX. Charles Leonard, of Palmetto, Fla., finished fifth in the No. 14 JB Racing/Hoosier Tire Nissan 200SX SE-R.
Provisional results for Sunday's GT-Lite 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, (5), Christopher Bovis, Lawrence, KS, Honda CRX, 13.
2, (1), Robert Lentz, Chantilly, VA, Nissan Sentra SER, 13.
3, (12), Steve Sargis, Frankfort, IL, Triumph Spitfire, 13.
4, (2), Bob Clark, Glendale, WI, Honda CRX, 13.
5, (10), Charles Leonard, Palmetto, FL, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 13.
6, (6), Kyle Disque, Philadelphia, PA, Toyota Tercel, 13.
7, (8), Brian Downey, Bristow, VA, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 13.
8, (16), Lans Stout, Cornelius, OR, Nissan Sentra, 13.
9, (9), Peter Zekert, Maryland Heights, MO, Nissan 200SX SE-R, 13.
10, (7), Jonathan Goodale, Conifer, CO, Mazda MX-5, 13.
11, (4), Kent Prather, Wakarusa, KS, Mazda Miata, 13.
12, (11), Daniel Meller, Milwaukee, WI, Toyota Tercel, 13.
13, (13), James Hargrove, Surrey, BC, Honda Civic, 13.
14, (15), Roy Lopshire Jr, Blue Springs, MO, Toyota Tercel, 13.
15, (18), Bryan Floyd, Clarion, PA, Nissan 200SX, 13.
16, (19), Robert Bax, Cincinnati, OH, Nissan Sentra, 13.
17, (14), Noel Hayward, Vallejo, CA, MG Midget, 9.
DNF, (3), Peter Shadowen, West Palm Beach, FL, Honda CRX, 3.
DNF, (17), Jamie Houseman, London, ON, Honda CRX, 3.
DNF, (20), Greg Socha, Richland, MI, Toyota Celica, 3.
Overall Time of Race: 38:16.431
Average Race Speed: 81.518 mph
Margin of Victory: 0.007 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:33.161
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 94.019 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #8 Steve Sargis
Lap Leaders: #60 – Laps 1-12, #78 – Lap 13
Ira Declared E Production Champion at SCCA Runoffs
Three-times a bridesmaid, Greg Ira is now a Sports Car Club of America National Champion after on-track E Production race winner Matt Reynolds was penalized for last-lap contact in a battle for the lead at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America.
Ira, of Plantation, Fla., led in his No. 2 GlenMartin Nissan 260-Z as the field received the one-to-go signal. Recovering from an early-race spin in his No. 71 Reynolds Brothers Racing/Jesse Prather Mazda Miata, Reynolds ran Ira down, but made contact with the Nissan in Turn Eight, allowing the Mazda through and into the lead. On the track, Reynolds finished 0.173-second ahead of Ira.
Following the race, the SCCA Stewards of the Meet determined that Reynolds was in violation of General Competition Rules (GCR) sections 6.11.1.A, B, C and D relating to On Course Driver Conduct. He was moved back a total of three positions (one for the last-lap incident and two for an earlier incident), making the revised top three finishers Ira, Aaron Downey, of Rossmoor, Calif., and Chris Dryden, of New Freedom, Pa.
The race got off to an adventurous start, as two early leaders slid off course. Reynolds was battling with Jim Daniels on the third lap and took the lead when Daniels' No. 76 TheRacingInsiders.com Mazda Miata slid off the track near the Kink. Moments later, Reynolds spun in Canada Corner on his own, and waited to rejoin the field as several cars passed him.
SafeRacer Polesitter Downey then took the point in his No. 5 roundpeg.com/Mazdaspeed Motorsports Mazda RX-3, but it was short-lived, as Ira was soon into the lead.
Having fallen back to 14th, Reynolds was on a tear through the field, setting the Hawk Performance Hot Lap of the Race with a time of 2:28.274 (97.117 mph) on lap six. He was back up to second place on lap 11, passing Downey for the position.
“The level of aggressiveness that some people have is different,” Ira said. “That might fly in another class, but a bump-and-run, for whatever the reason is, isn't a good way to win if you ask me.
“These old cars we're in, we really have to wheel them,” Ira added. “Winning with one of our older cars is difficult. But I was never comfortable. My head was always down, and I was always trying to click and hit my marks the best I could, for the exact reason that happened at the end. I told myself I was going to raise my aggressive level today because of our need to win so badly.”
“It was two very competitive drivers and two good drivers going for the same spot,” Reynolds said immediately following the race. “I chose my line, which was underneath, and there was just a little contact. It was a racing incident, and I did apologize to Greg.”
In the revised results, Ira's margin of victory was 8.362 seconds, averaging 90.441 mph.
Downey bounced around the top five, and led lap three in the No. 5 roundpeg.com/Mazdaspeed Motorsports Mazda RX-3. In the end, he was only 0.201-second ahead of Dryden the new third-place finisher in the No. 02 PayPal/Carbotech BMW Z3.
“We were just off on the setup,” said Downey, the recipient of the GoPro Move of the Race after drifting through the Carousel early in the race. “I never lost sight of the leaders. Yes, I did lead a couple times during the race, but I never felt like I had a winning car.”
Reynolds was placed fourth in the final results, one position ahead of Jesse Prather, of Topeka, Kan., who drove the No. 34 Jesse Prather Motorsports/Mazdaspeed/Hoosier Mazda MX-5.
Philip Royle in the No. 42 CureSarcoma.org/Electromotive Mazda RX-7 picked up the Sunoco Hard Charger, advancing 18 spots from 34th to 16th.
Final results for Sunday's SCCA E Production 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, (4), Greg Ira, Plantation, FL, Nissan 260-Z, 13.
2, (1), Aaron Downey, Rossmoor, CA, Mazda RX-3, 13.
3, (5), Chris Dryden, New Freedom, PA, BMW Z3, 13.
4, (3), Matt Reynolds, Boerne, TX, Mazda Miata, 13.
5, (6), Jesse Prather, Topeka, KS, Mazda MX-5, 13.
6, (10), Kevin Leigh, Harrisonburg, VA, BMW Z3, 13.
7, (7), Kenneth W Shreve, Sammamish, WA, Mazda RX-7, 13.
8, (11), James Simaras, Oconomowoc, WI, Mazda RX-7, 13.
9, (9), Sam Halkias, Westerville, OH, Triumph TR6, 13.
10, (13), John Morton, El Segundo, CA, Nissan 240-Z, 13.
11, (18), Don Bunt, Rockford, IL, Nissan 240-Z, 13.
12, (16), Lance Loughman, Lake Zurich, IL, Nissan 240-Z, 13.
13, (12), Steve Smyczek, Brookfield, WI, Mazda RX-7, 13.
14, (35), Robert E. Hummel, McHenry, IL, Mazda RX-7, 13.
15, (19), Charlie Clark, Mission, KS, Mazda RX-7, 13.
16, (34), Philip Royle, Winnetka, CA, Mazda RX-7, 13.
17, (26), Peter Morton, Milford, MI, Honda S2000, 13.
18, (24), Brian Haupt, Spring Hill, KS, Mazda RX-7, 13.
19, (25), Richard Luening, Milwaukee, WI, MG B, 12.
20, (33), Sydney Davis, Angleton, TX, Mazda Miata, 12.
21, (29), James Malone, Willcox, AZ, Porsche 944, 12.
22, (38), George Olsen, Barrington, IL, Austin-Healey 3000, 12.
23, (21), Michael Helm, Union, OH, Toyota MR-2, 11.
24, (2), Jim Daniels, Germantown, TN, Mazda Miata, 10.
25, (8), Rick Kavitski, Freeland, PA, Mazda Miata, 10.
26, (14), Rick Kosdrosky, Granbury, TX, Caterham 7 America, 7.
27, (32), Dan Hedley, Gorham, ON, Honda Prelude Si, 7.
28, (20), Tony Jimerson, Benicia, CA, Mazda RX-7, 6.
DNF, (15), Gary Gist, Del Mar, CA, Mazda RX-7, 3.
DNF, (23), Ron Olsen, Barrington, IL, Mazda RX-7, 2.
DNF, (30), Dwight Cooke, Greensboro, NC, Triumph TR4, 2.
DNF, (17), Rob Coffey, Thunder Ray, ON, Honda Prelude Si, 1.
DNF, (31), Rich Olsen, South Barrington, IL, Mazda RX-7, 1.
DNS, (22), Steve Hussey, Capitola, CA, Mazda Miata.
DNS, (27), Chris Stevens, Shawnee, KS, Mazda RX-7.
DNS, (28), Donald Walsh, Orrtanna, PA, Mazda RX-7.
DNS, (37), Jon Brakke, Fargo, ND, Mazda Miata.
Overall Time of Race: 34:29.864
Average Race Speed: 90.441 mph
Margin of Victory: 8.535 seconds
Hawk Performance Fastest Race Lap: Matt Reynolds, 2:28.274 (97.117 mph), Record
Sunoco Hard Charger: #42 Philip Royle
Lap Leaders: Lap 1, #76 Daniels; Lap 2, #71 Reynolds; Lap 3, #5 Downey, Laps 4-9, #2 Ira; Lap 10, #76 Daniels; Laps 11-12, #2 Ira; Lap 13, #71 Reynolds.
Note: Reynolds penalized three positions per SCCA GCR 6.11.1.A, B, C, D