TOPEKA, Kan. (October 10, 2008) - In a seesaw battle that featured four official lead changes and many more that weren’t measured at the start/finish line, Brad Stout, of Webster Groves, Mo., outlasted Michael Varacins, of Burlington, Wisc., on Friday afternoon for his fifth Formula Vee title at the 45th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka. Stephen Dreizer, of Shell Knob, Mo., finished third.
Stout and Varacins spent most of the 17-lap race exchanging leads, with Stout officially credited with leading laps eight, nine and 11 through 17 in his No. 35 Vortech FV. Varacins led the remaining eight laps in his No. 65 Speed Sport Eng/Veetech/Hoosier Speed Sport AM-5 Volkswagen, many by mere inches as the two used Heartland Park’s front straight to draft each other and make a pass going into Turn One.
The race seemed destined to end with a drag race down the front straight to the checkered flag. Unfortunately for Varacins, that opportunity wouldn’t come after Stephen Saslow slid off-track, tracking into the path of No. 10 Eddie Cadena and the two made heavy contact. Because of the location of the two damaged cars, a full-course caution came out and ended the race, giving Stout -- who was leading at the time -- the win. Cardena and Saslow exited their cars without assistance.
“We had a great race,” Stout said. “We tested each other. We went through a few turns side-by-side and I was like 'Boy I don't want to do this on a regular basis.' But, it was nice to know who could do what and what we could get away with for that last lap. Late in the race, I could see that we were coming up on traffic. I am always worried about traffic. It can either help you or hurt you. I know that both of us wanted to lead by the time we got in there. I was lucky enough to be leading. Sure enough the yellow flag came out and that was the race.”
The 0.940-second win was Stout’s fifth, and first at Heartland Park, tying him with engine builder Bill Noble for most in Formula Vee history.
While admitting there was no way to know if it would have changed the result, Varacins was visibly disappointed not to have a chance to beat Stout to the checkered flag. It was Varacins’ third consecutive runner-up finish at the SCCA Runoffs.
“I was pretty relaxed in the car,” Varacins said. “I was just waiting for the last couple of laps to see what would happen. When that full course yellow came out, I was a little disappointed. But, it would have been tough to get around him, when he is pretty tough to get around anyway. There are no guarantees what would have happened on the last lap had the race stayed green. But, it would have been a good finish one way or the other.”
Dreizler outlasted a three-and-four car battle of his own to finish third in the No. 04 Competition Data Systems Vortech 2002, but was running almost five seconds behind the battle for the lead when the yellow flag flew.
Bob Neumeister of Pueblo, Colo., and Jeffrey Loughead, of Darien, Ill., finished fourth and fifth and were among those who battled with Dreizler at one point for the final podium position.
Phillip Holcomb, of Longmont, Colo., earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award after improving 11 positions to 11th place.
The SCCA National Championship Runoffs® The Pinnacle of American Motorsports, will crown Sports Car Club of America's Club Racing National Champions for the 45th-consecutive year in 2008. The best amateur drivers from across North America will compete on Heartland Park Topeka's 2.5-mile road course in what is considered the "Olympics" of motorsports. This year's event began with four days of qualifying, Oct. 6-9, and has now commenced three days of National Championship racing, Oct. 10-12.