LEXINGTON, Ohio (September 20, 2002) -- Experience continued to rule Friday afternoon at the Sports Car Club of America Valvoline Runoffs®, with former Champions taking each race win but one at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Joining morning race winners John Fergus, David Daughtery and Steve Sargis were Wilson Wright Jr., Thomas Oates, Brad Stout, Bob Weber and rookie Csaba Bujdoso.
Wright Jr., of Stockbridge, Mass., started second to Scott Culbertson in GT-4 and had a tough fight with him and Keith Grant. Culbertson made a bid to pass Grant for the lead mid-race and slid into him, damaging both cars and letting Wright slip through for the win, his third in GT-4. Grant, of Cordova, Tenn., finished second, 3.884 seconds behind.
"It was a hot race, I'm exhausted," said a jubilant Wright Jr., who drove the Glick Nissan/Nissan 200SX. "This is the hardest that I've had to work so far. I'm getting too old for these young guys! Early in the race, it was all a blur. I can't tell you what was going on! There was some coming together, but nothing nasty. At one time I went from first to third in a lap--nothing like it! Later I got Grant on the straight when he was slowed by broken body work."
Culbertson, of Portland, Ore., finished third in what might be his last race, as he plans to enter the Air Force after graduating from college in the Spring. Juan Montalvo Jr., of N. Palm Beach, Fla., and Joe Tenney, of Fayetteville, Ga., completed the top five.
Thomas Oates, of Cape May, N.J., led flag-to-flag in his Goodyear/Eazycare/Hawk Chevrolet Camaro to take his second Touring Two National Championship. Oates was never seriously challenged, but there was a wild battle behind.
"I had a bad week going into today," said Oates. "I was unsure if my tires would last this weekend but my Goodyears worked great. It was hard to stay focused later when I was ahead by such a margin. I slapped myself back into consciousness."
Behind Oates, a great battle between Jordan Sandridge, T.C. Kline, Kim Campbell, David Roush and Mark Sandridge waged for the remaining podium spots. In the end, the father/son duo of Jordan and Mark Sandridge, both of Westfield Center, Ohio, came through on the podium. Campbell and Kline completed the top five.
In Formula Vee, polewinner Brad Stout, of St. Louis, Mo., had one of the most dominating runs ever, passing Stevan Davis on the second lap and running away to a 24.66-second win.
"It feels great," said Stout, who earned his second-consecutive Championship. "I'm always thankful to be here. A 24-second margin....it blows my mind. I didn't know where everyone went. I looked in my mirrors and they were empty."
Following Stout's Goodyear/Noble/LRE/BRP/ACI Vortech were Gary Kittell, of Tully, N.Y., and Andres Serrano, of Munson, Ohio, after a last-lap move by Davis took he and Don Schanche out of contention.
The start of the American Sedan race was wild, with three of the top four qualifiers falling out of the top 20 in three separate incidents on the first lap. Third-starting Csaba Bujdoso, of Canfield, Ohio, moved to the front in his very first Runoffs. His Checkered Express Motorsport/Hoosier Chevrolet Camaro was challenged early by two-time defending Champion Andy McDermid, who retired on lap seven with a mechanical problem, and never looked back, taking a 2.197-second win. (SEE NOTE BELOW)
"The first year in this class, and I won," said Bujdoso, a Romanian immigrant. "At the start, I dove inside at the first turn and got through a hole. Then I had McDermid right behind me, and that was my big worry. When McDermid went out I began to think about winning. I drove consistently, kept my line. This is my first time at the Runoffs and to be a winner-it's just unbelievable!"
Bob Hahn, of Nacogdoches, Texas, finished second, with Monte Cowles, of Montclair, Va., in third. Carey Grant and Rocky Elli completed the top five.
In H Production, Bob Weber, of Kingwood, Texas, won the closest race of the day, topping Dan Collishaw by 0.206-second for his second National Championship. Weber won in an Austin-Healey Sprite in its 50th anniversary year. ( SEE NOTE BELOW )
"It's great to win again," said Weber. "I'm real proud to get a second one. It was my race to lose but I had to pedal hard all the way to stay ahead of Dan."
Collishaw, of Noblesville, Ind., finished second for the third-consecutive year, followed by two-time defending Champion Ron Bartell, of Madbury, N.H., Phil Chiles, of Hopkinsville, Ky., and John Salisbury, of Gurnee, Ill.
For complete results, visit www.scca.org. The 39th Valvoline Runoffs continues this Saturday with eight races. The final eight races are Sunday.
NOTE: In the final American Sedan results, the car of Bujdoso was found to be out of technical compliance and was disqualified. This gave the win to Bob Hahn in his Valvoline/Goodyear Ford Mustang. It is Hahn s first National Championship. Kyle Watkins, of Broomfield, Colo., had his finishing position reinstated, and was credited with second place. Cowles remained third.
In H Production, the car of Weber was found to be out of technical compliance and was disqualified. This gave the win to Collishaw in the Precision Peter s Fabrication Austin-Healey Sprite. It is Collishaw s first National Championship. Bartell is credited with second place, followed by Phil Chiles, of Hopkinsville, Ky.