Michael Scornavacchi, of Manheim, Pa., was visibly emotional in the moments following his Showroom Stock B victory in the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. Joining Scornavacchi on the podium were Lee Niffenegger, of Santa Clarita, Calif., in second and Ed Zabinski, of Stockbridge, Ga., in third.
From third on the starting grid, Scornavacchi went three-wide with Gumout polesitter Toby Grahovec, of Chicago, and second-place starter Tim Myers, of Atlanta, Ga., at the drop of the green flag and nosed ahead into turn one. Grahovec reclaimed the lead heading into turn three and led the first two laps before Scornavacchi took the lead in turn three on lap three. He then pulled out into a healthy advantage over the next several laps, leading by more than four seconds at one point.
"My best friend became Toby Grahovec, because when Toby and Lee were going at it [for second place], I was looking in my mirror saying, 'Oh my goodness, this is great,'" Scornavacchi said. "In fairness, I was probably running 95 percent at the time. I knew if I ended up in a dogfight, I wanted the brakes. It's a very heavy car. The brakes are good, but if you punish them here for 13 laps, you're not going to have much left. I was probably going half a brake marker, earlier, the majority of the race, probably saving a half to three-quarters of a second if I needed it. I had a crew guy on the wall that was telling me the interval back to Lee."
Niffenegger gained ground on Scornavacchi as the laps wound down but could get no closer than 1.270 seconds at the checkered flag. It was Scornavacchi's first SCCA National Championship and his second Runoffs medal. He finished second in Showroom Stock B in 2009.
"It got a little close on the last lap,' Scornavacchi said. "I caught a SSC car coming down into [turn] five, but there was a yellow in five, so I couldn't pass him. I was totally out of the gas until I got through five and on the run up to sixth. Lee must have pulled a second and a half right there.
"I was a mess, actually, the whole lap afterwards. When I saw my wife and my son, I was pretty much a mess too. The Runoffs and I are a little like oil and water. We've had some great qualifying efforts and the races haven't gone well. We've had some great seasons and the races haven't gone well.
"The year Lee won it, he and I had a phenomenal battle with a couple laps to go and I swung wide and blew a tire out at the beginning of a curb, which allowed him to win and deservedly so. We had a loose wheel in 2009, which cost me, potentially a first or a second, I don't know, but it was early in the race. Last year, we broke a part in qualifying. We were on the pole on day one and I came up out of Canada, drove out of 13 and broke a ball joint and I hit the concrete wall so I never made the race. This race and I have not been friends."
Niffenegger drove the No. 21 Honda of Keene/HPD/BFG Honda Civic Si to his third consecutive second-place result in Showroom Stock B and also turned the Hawk Hot Lap at 2:42.083 (88.843 mph). It was the fifth Runoffs medal for the 2008 Showroom Stock B National Champion.
"For some reason there was a yellow in turn one [on the first lap]," Niffenegger said. "I still don't know why, but I got passed by a lot of guys. I don't know if everybody could see it. I was stuck behind somebody and I just kind of got swarmed. Then I got hit between [turns] one and three, took my mirror off, which thankfully, it finally came in the car and I was able to rip it off and throw it in the car so it wasn't flopping there in the wind. I got hit multiple times.
"It was kind of a rough race. It didn't really need to be that way. I didn't get up to Mike. Mike and I raced for the '08 [championship] and raced clean with each other. Ed was super clean. I've got to thank my teammate, Luke Wilwert. He gave me the draft, pointed me by and told me to go after these guys. He helped me out. It was a rough race. I think I had a car to win if I didn't have to come from ninth place on the first lap. Definitely, I think that's the most cars I've ever passed at the Runoffs, at least for position. It was definitely an eventful race."
Zabinski, the defending Showroom Stock B National Champion, went from fourth to third on the last lap in the No. 1 Ford Mustang to take the final podium spot. It was the fourth straight Runoffs medal for Zabinski, who also won the 2008 Touring 1 National Championship. Zabinski took the Sunoco Hard Charger Award after starting seventh.
"What happened is, we were running around in fourth and it looked like Toby Grahovec had some sort of mechanical problem," Zabinski said. "I've heard that he got stuck in fifth gear or something on the second-to-last lap and I was surprised to see him kind of burbling and going slow up the hill out of Canada Corner. I feel bad for him, but I was pretty happy to inherit third place. I'll definitely take that. I can't say I'm disappointed to be on the podium. This is a tough field. Every single driver in this whole field is really, really good. When you're in a field like that, you're just kind of satisfied to race with these guys."
Wilwert, of Marysville, Ohio, came home fourth in the No. 79 HPD/BFGoodrich/Alpinestars/Recaro Honda Civic Si. After leading the first two laps, Grahovec held to take fifth in the No. 84 Classic BMW/Hoosier Tire/Red Line BMW Z4.
Now in its 48th year, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs annually crowns Champions in the Sports Car Club of America's Club Racing classes. The live broadcast of all 28 National Championship races will be available throughout the weekend at www.SpeedcastTV.com/scca and later available On Demand from the same site.
Follow the action on Twitter @SCCAOfficial or the SCCA, Inc. Official Facebook page at facebook.com/sccaofficial. More information is available at www.scca.com.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Provisional Results from Saturday's Showroom Stock B National Championship Race, part of the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (3), Michael Scornavacchi, Manheim, PA, Ford Mustang V-6, 13.
2, (4), Lee Niffenegger, Santa Clarita, CA, Honda Civic Si, 13.
3, (7), Ed Zabinski, Stockbridge, GA, Ford Mustang, 13.
4, (6), Luke Wilwert, Marysville, OH, Honda Civic Si, 13.
5, (1), Toby Grahovec, Chicago, IL, BMW Z4, 13.
6, (9), Ralph Porter, Kokomo, IN, BMW Z4, 13.
7, (8), Christopher Childs, Pontiac, MI, Ford Mustang, 13.
8, (10), Robbie Davis, Dallas, TX, MINI Cooper S, 13.
9, (11), Stan Czacki, Elephant Butte, NM, Acura RSX Type S, 13.
10, (5), Andrew Charbonneau, Delray Beach, FL, Ford Mustang, 10.
11, (12), Michael Dalton, Evanston, IL, Pontiac Solstice, 9.
DNF, (2), Tim Myers, Atlanta, GA, Ford Mustang, 2.
DNS, (13), Rick Shively, Louisville, CO, BMW Z4, 0.
Overall Time of Race: 35:26.844
Average Race Speed: 88.018 mph
Margin of Victory: 1.270 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: #21 Lee Niffenegger, 2:42.083
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 88.843 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #1 Ed Zabinski
Lap Leaders: #84 Toby Grahovec 1-2, #25 Michael Scornavacchi.