RACE 26 Formula 1000 | Sunday, 2:20 p.m.
Back on Top
1 Brandon Dixon Alabama Citation F1000
2 J.R. Osborne Oregon Stohr
3 Brian Novak Detroit Piper
Formula B is arguably one of the most exciting classes to be added to SCCA National Championship racing in the past 10 years, but it's difficult to get any new purpose-built racing class up and running with the critical mass of cars necessary to sustain competition. This class has a companion SCCA Pro Racing series (called the Formula 1000 Championship Series) to sweeten the pot for drivers, and that's a knife that cuts both ways for the Runoffs. On the one hand, it brings serious drivers to the class, but it can also take a competitor's focus away from Club Racing.
This year, engine failures caused the Pro series to reschedule the final race of the season at VIR to October. This has some leading drivers wondering about turnout at the Runoffs. Just three FB cars turned up at the June Sprints.
“I'll be there, but I'm not sure who else will attend,” says 2011 Champion Brandon Dixon. “The Pro series has changed some people's plans. I'm not sure who is going to scramble to get enough [National] finishes and who will stay home. I think the best bets for the podium are the usual suspects. J.R. Osborne, Brian Novak, and Glen Cooper.”
Dixon has had a great career in FB, winning the title in 2010 and claiming second last year, and has so far won three pro races this year. He was leading in the fourth race when engine trouble took him out, so it would be crazy not to rank him as the top choice to win again at the Runoffs. However, Bill McLaughlin could also be a contender, as could Lucien Pancea.
RACE 27 GT-3 | Sunday, 3:20 p.m.
1 Jeff Dernehl Atlanta Mazda RX-7
2 Michael Cyphert Neohio Toyota Celica
3 Rob Warkocki Chicago Mazda RX-7
When you consider the competition in GT-3 at the Runoffs, it's clear that this class has a very deep bench. The list of talented drivers in very well developed cars is long, and the class is bound to be one of the closest races of the week.
Jeff Dernehl has been paying his dues for quite a few years, and this is likely to be his year to finish at the top of the podium. Dernehl is leading the tough Southeast Division in points, and he won the June Sprints, with his fast race time besting longtime GT-3 driver Rob Warkocki by better than two seconds a lap.
“This could be Jeff Dernehl's year,” says Warkocki. “Obviously, he's worked very hard on his car, but his Achilles' heel is weight. Tire management will be key for him.”
Warkocki himself is always a strong contender for the podium, and finished second at the June Sprints this year.
“I'm trying to run my races this season pretty cautiously, as I need to not hurt the car,” Warkocki continues. “Everything needs to go in the new 13B engine I'm trying to get in the car for the Runoffs.”
Another longtime contender who could make the top of the podium is Michael Cyphert. “Unfortunately, I missed the June Sprints because of an uncharacteristic engine failure at the end of May,” Cyphert says. “I've got a new engine ready and it dyno'ed better than the engine that set the GT-3 qualifying record last year.”
Other drivers who are likely to be fighting for the podium include 2011 Champion John Black, two time Champion Collin Jackson, Wolfgang Maike, Mike Henderson, and Ken Nelson. With this many great drivers in the hunt, it's going to be a wild ride in GT-3 this year.
RACE 28 Formula 500 | Sunday, 4:20 p.m.
1 Michael Mueller Milwaukee Red Devil
2 C.J. McAbee Kansas KBS
3 Jason Knuteson Central Florida Scorpion
At the 2011 Runoffs, all indicators from qualifying pointed to a tight race, but as the green waved no one was in the same zip code as Michael Mueller. By lap two, Mueller had an 11-second lead on the field, and eventually motored to a better than 30-second margin of victory in the wet conditions over Jeremy Morales.
Mueller seems to be on pace to repeat, he's had a great season thus far, which was just highlighted with a win at the June Sprints.
Where we expect the changes to happen are the next two steps of the podium. There is a lot of buzz around C.J. McAbee, who finished third in 2011, and he seems to be having his best season ever. Some tweaks to the car, a new job and a new baby at home have kept McAbee busy, but he seems more determined than ever to move up the podium.
Jason Knuteson always has speed, but it is often accompanied by a bit of bad luck. If he can keep everything together he could very easily be standing on the podium come Sunday.
Other possible contenders include 2011 runner-up Morales, Aaron Ellis and Mike Brent.