Roger Siebenaler, of North Hero, Vt., captured his first SCCA National Championship in 11 years, winning the Formula Vee race at the 48th SCCA National Championship Runoffs from Road America. Bob Neumeister, of Pueblo, Colo., and Michael Varacins, of Burlington, Wis., completed the top three.
Varacins started from the Gumout Pole in his No. 65 Speed Sport/Veetech/Hoosier Speed Sport AM-5, and led at the start. As is traditionally the case in the Formula Vee class, a lead at the high-speed Road America circuit is short lived, and Varacins was joined in the battle for the lead by third-starting defending Champion Rick Shields (No. 07 ARS Inc/Veesport Racing/AutoWorks VDF-2), fourth starting Siebenaler in his No. 72 Autowerks/Hoosier Mysterian M2 and sixth starting Jonathan Weisheit's No. 61 JK Technologies Protoform P3.
Weisheit's great start was short-lived, and five laps into the race, the top three broke away, with Siebenaler, Varacins and Shields trading the top spot.
On lap eight, Neumeister recovered after falling out of the top five from his second starting position in his No. 94 Hoosier/Red Line Oil Vortech to catch the top three and join the fight.
By the time the field took the signal for the 13th, and final, lap three drivers had traded the lead numerous times around the course. Neumeister led in Turn 12, while Siebenaler moved inside of Varacins for second. Any advantage Neumeister thought he may have had evaporated as he exited Turn 14 and began the run to the checkered flag. Siebenaler used the draft to pop out and edge ahead at the finish, winning by 0.131-second.
It was Siebenaler's third National Championship, but his first since winning back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000.
“This feels great. It feels better than my first win because this is not an easy track to try to do that at,” Siebenaler said. “You don't know what kind of chance you have until the last lap and you don't know where you're going to be until you cross the finish line because drafting is such an issue.
“It was a great race. It was clean. It is a great feeling. I have to thank Hoosier Tires, Autowerks engines, Vee Sport Racing and Chassistools.com. I couldn't do it without all the help I get because I live in Vermont and the car stays in New Jersey.”
While Neumeister felt confident entering Turn 14, Siebenaler did as well.
“I knew I had a shot,” Siebenaler added. “I had been doing well through Turn 14 and had been able to sneak up on people up the hill. I didn't know if I could do it before the finish line. Last year, it almost worked. This year, it worked!”
For Neumeister, it was his second podium finish and his career-best result of second.
“I didn't get the greatest start,” Neumeister said. “I kind of got trapped in the middle and as they say in NASCAR, that's not a good place to be. Charlie Hearn helped me get back up to those guys and I am real appreciative of that. Once we caught the leaders it was fun. Catching them wasn't very fun, but racing with them was.
“I haven't raced here much and I don't know all the special nuances of what to do to win the race at the end. When they fought a little bit at the end there, I thought I had it won! I thought I did 14 better than I'd done it the whole race. I never expected Roger to draft by. He was coming like a freight train. There was nothing I could do about it at that point except maybe wreck the guy and I wasn't going to do that.
“It was a lot of fun. It was way better [finish] than I thought I'd get.”
Varacins dominated the 2009 race, but following a tough race in 2010, was happy to return to the podium.
“It's hard to complain. Certainly we would have liked to be a couple spots higher, but with these kind of races, third place is nothing to complain about,” Varacins said. “These races are hard to predict. It's hard to get away because there are a lot of fast guys. On the last lap, there were maybe four of us that had a shot at winning going up the hill. It's just the way it worked out. It was a clean race. It was a great race.”
Shields, of Bridgeville, Pa., finished fourth and Dennis Andrade, of Brush Prairie, Wash., finished fifth in his No. 87 D+D Racing Vortech after starting ninth.
Neumeister earned the Hawk Fastest Race Lap with a best time of 2:41.435 (89.200 mph), breaking his previous track record.
Robert O'Connor, of Woodbridge, Va., earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award in his No. 06 HR7620 Vortech for advancing nine positions in the race to finish 21st.
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. – Results from Friday's Formula Vee SCCA National Championship race from Road America, with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (4), Roger Siebenaler, North Hero, VT, Mysterian M2, 13.
2, (2), Robert Neumeister, Pueblo, CO, Vortech Formula V, 13.
3, (1), Michael Varacins, Burlington, WI, Speed Sport AM-5, 13.
4, (3), Rick Shields, Bridgeville, PA, Volkswagen VDF-2, 13.
5, (9), Dennis Andrade, Brush Prairie, WA, Vortech FV, 13.
6, (8), Stevan Davis, Danielsville, GA, Racer's Wedge SB-1, 13.
7, (11), Ed Womer, Morningside, MD, Womer EV3, 13.
8, (10), Gary Blanarik, Baden, PA, Silver Bullet Eins, 13.
9, (5), Charles Hearn, Houston, TX, Vortech Vortech, 13.
10, (7), Chris Jennerjahn, Hartford City, IN, Vortech Vortech, 13.
11, (15), Daniel Oseth, Sterling, VA, Formula Vee Vortech, 13.
12, (16), Andrew Abbott, Livonia, MI, Vector AM-1, 13.
13, (19), Lisa Noble, Manhattan, KS, Vortech FV, 13.
14, (22), Stuart Delaney, Plymouth, MI, Adam J, 13.
15, (20), Brandon Abbott, Livonia, MI, Vector AM-1, 13.
16, (24), Russell Fredericks, Northport, NY, Caracal D, 13.
17, (13), Bill Johnson, Leawood, KS, Vortech FV, 13.
18, (18), Dave Scaler, Flemington, NJ, Mysterian CM2, 13.
19, (21), Dale Rader, Reading, PA, Volkswagen Protofom, 13.
20, (27), Mark Edwards, Los Angeles, CA, Glamdring , 13.
21, (30), Robert O'Connor, Woodbridge, VA, Vortech FV, 13.
22, (26), Guy Bellingham, Brantford, ON, BRD AFV02, 12.
23, (32), Hughie Maloney, Freeland, PA, Womer EV3, 12.
24, (28), Jim Dziewior, La Grange, IL, Citation Speedsport, 12.
25, (33), Harry Schneider, Columbia, NJ, Adams Aero FV, 12.
26, (34), James Vaseff, Decatur, GA, Citation XTC-41, 11.
27, (23), Dean Curtis, East Stroudsburg, PA, Womer EV3, 7.
28, (12), Ron Whitston, Neenah, WI, Protoform P2, 7.
29, (25), Ron Wake, Lafayette, CA, Mysterian M4, 7.
30, (31), Charlie Turner, Mission Viejo, CA, Protoform P3, 6.
31, (6), Jonathan Weisheit, Baltimore, MD, Protoform P3, 6.
DNF, (29), Andy Pastore, Watertown, MA, Citation 89FV-06, 5.
DNF, (14), Andrew Whitston, Neenah, WI, Protoform P2, 2.
DNF, (17), Charles McCormick, Clarkston, MI, Vortech CM1, 2.
Time of Race: 35:29.792
Winner's average speed: 87.896 mph
Hawk Fastest race lap: #94 Bob Neumeister, 2:41.435 (89.200 mph)
Lap Leaders: 1-9, Roger Siebenaler; 10, Varacins; 11, Neumeister; 12-13, Siebenaler.