RACE 24 F Production | Sunday, 1:20 p.m.
1 Steve Sargis Blackhawk Valley Truimph Spitfire
2 Eric Prill Kansas Mazda Miata
3 Ken Kannard Atlanta Mazda Miata
Eric Prill and Ken Kannard are having incredible seasons and, while as of July he has yet to compete this year in FP, Sargis says he's going to run the class at the Runoffs. Picking a winner from among these guys is an exercise in frustration, so after online threads about using hats or dart boards to pick the winner, the three names went into a hat and came out as Kannard taking the win, Prill claiming second, and Sargis finishing third. The random name draw was then debated and second-guessed, and it was eventually decided the best compromise was to invert the hat-drawn results. Regardless, picking which one of these guys is going to win is impossible – any one of them could be the 2012 FP champion.
But it's not going to be an easy race for any of the podium positions. 2008 FP Champion Rick Harris (Mazda Miata) and Brian Linn (Mazda Miata) are back after missing last year's race; Sam Henry (Mazda Miata) and 2010 Champion Kevin Ruck (Acura Integra) are both very fast; and Charlie Campbell (Mazda Miata) had a strong third-place finish last year. Count them up – there are eight FP racers who could actually win the championship. They are all fast; they all know Road America; any of them could win. Ultimately, though, the champion is most likely to be Kannard, Prill, or Sargis.
Keeping these guys honest will be drivers in some unusual cars: Bill Wessel (Datsun SP311), David Strittmatter (Lancia Scorpion), and John Walker (Lotus). Also expect to see Mason Workman also in the mix, as well as Austin Britton, who will be retuning to the Runoffs for the first time since 2001 and was a force to be reckoned with in the 1990s.
Mark Weber (Mazda Miata) will set another record at this year's race. He's already the driver with the most starts at the Runoffs, and this year he will participate in his 500th SCCA race and his 50th Runoffs race. Good luck to Mark!
J. Michael Hemsley
RACE 25 Formula Atlantic | Sunday, 2:20 p.m.
1 Keith Grant Atlanta Swift 016.a
2 Jason Byers Milwaukee Swift 016.a
3 Michael Mallinen Kansas City Swift 016.a
Five times in the last six years a car fielded by Mirl Swan has won the Runoffs. This stranglehold may – just may – be broken this year. The one who could do it is Keith Grant, who is determined and due.
Grant very well could have won the past two years. In 2010, he went wide on the last corner of the last lap, throwing the win away. Last year he just wants to forget. Keith and brother David had a 30-second lead early in the race when they spun in the rain and took each other out. Grant is focused on winning this year, and as of the end of June he has three National wins plus two SCCA Pro Racing Atlantic Championship Series wins. If he keeps his nose clean, he should finally do it this year.
Second and third should be Swan cars. Michael Mallinen won last year but Jason Byers has defeated Mallinen the last two times they have both raced at Road America. Because of this, we think that Byers should just tip Mallinen for second.
Jeff Kowalik, in a Swift 016.a as opposed to the 014.a cars of Grant, Byers, and Mallinen, is always a factor in the CENDiv. If things fall right, he could be on the podium, but which step is the question.
If Lewis Cooper comes, he must be considered. At this date, he has five wins and is leading his division. Also doing well this season are Sedat Yelkin and Chris Fahan. Hans Peter, the 2007 winner, is racing sporadically this season and is unlikely to come to Elkhart Lake this fall – but if he does, watch out. David Grant would definitely contend, but the word is that he is sitting this one out.
When all is said and done, though, it's time for Keith Grant to come through and capitalize on the speed he has shown in the past. If he can go mistake free, he could very well add a Formula Atlantic championship to his resume.