Race 3 | Touring 2 | Friday, 10:30 a.m.
1 | Bill Baten | Indianapolis | Chevrolet Camaro
2 | David McNeil | Chicago | BMW M3
3 | Bill Peter | Milwaukee Region | Mitsubishi Evo
Last year, the top three finishers and two other contenders in T2 each drove a Pontiac Solstice GXP – don't look for that to happen this year at Road America. In fact, it's going to be tough for a Solstice to even make the podium.
With several long straightaways, the 4.048-mile circuit is more conducive to the bigger horsepower cars in T2 than superb cornering cars like the Solstice. Consequently, cars like the Chevy Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Mitsubishi Evo and possibly BMW M3 may wind up on top.
Case in point: This year's June Sprints was won by a Camaro. Finishing second through fifth were M3s. The only Solstice entry finished sixth, 25 seconds behind the winner.
Last year's Runoffs runner-up, Mike Pettiford, is having second thoughts about which car to run. “I was thinking of driving my Solstice,” he says, “but after looking at the results, I may switch to a Camaro Z-28.”
Based on Pettiford staying in a Solstice, the favorite's nod goes to Bill Baten. He won this year's June Sprints and was sixth at the 2008 Runoffs.
David McNeil looks like the best of the Beemers. He has run well at the Sprints, finishing second this year and winning in 2008.
Look for Evo driver Bill Peter, who last year was third at the Sprints and ninth at the Runoffs, to nab the final podium spot over fellow Evo pilot Marty Grand.
Despite the horsepower concerns, don't completely overlook the Solstice. Four-time Runoffs Champion Don Knowles drove one to titles in 2006-'07, and was leading on the last lap in 2008. He is experienced enough to take it to the front. Last year's Runoffs Champ Andy Wolverton has run well at Road America, finishing third in the 2008 Sprints. And let's not forget Pettiford; he's always tough, no matter what he drives.
Race 4 | Sports 2000 | Friday, 11:30 a.m.
1 | John Fergus II | Ohio Valley | Carbir | n6
2 | Corey Fergus | Ohio Valley | Carbir
3 | Bart Wolf | Milwaukee | Carbir
For the past decade, Sports 2000 has meant John Fergus. Others have come and gone, and Fergus has not won every year, but it is indisputable that he has dominated this class.
Now there are two of them.
Son Corey began racing not long ago and has progressed at a very fast pace. Indeed, Corey finished third last year behind his father John and Bart Wolf. This season, Corey has picked up the pace considerably and is a winner in his own right. He has even beaten dad on occasion. At the June Sprints, Corey scored his biggest win yet, besting a fine S2000 field to win. Corey Fergus is very capable of winning the Gold Medal.
So why are we picking John? Because this is the Runoffs, because John has won six times previously, because he is super competitive, because he will give nothing away and because he still is the best S2000 driver out there, that's why.
“I am very proud of Corey,” says John. “He is very fast, even faster than me. I really enjoy running with him, and he is going to be very good. He can beat me.” All well and good, of course, but family pride aside, John still wants to win!
Bart Wolf has been knocking on the door for the past few years and will continue to do so. He is at his home track and will definitely be a factor. As familiar as Bart is with Road America, whether he can beat the Ferguses remains to be seen.
Mark Mercer returned to the track with a second-place finish at the June Sprints, but is undecided as to whether or not he will continue racing – he has won the gold before, and if he shows up, he could be on the podium again.
Others meriting consideration include Michael Bautz, Ed Guenther, Joe Moran, Ron Jessen, Marc Walker, Anthony Sleath and Burns Moore.
Race 5 | America Sedan | Friday, 1:30 p.m.
1 | Andy McDermid | Milwaukee | Ford Mustang | n4
2 | Tom Sloe | Neohio | Ford Mustang
3 | Michael Lavigne | New England | Ford Mustang
A look at these top picks and you would think we worked for Ford! But let me assure you, that's not the case – and it's really going to be a crapshoot as to which one of the three competitors we've listed comes out on top. Tom Sloe bested current National Champ Andy McDermid at the June Sprints by about three seconds, but best times were only separated by a tick of the clock, so it likely will be anyone's game. McDermid took wins at Mid-Ohio and Blackhawk Farms and he's going for the hat trick this year.
One name that is conspicuously absent from all point sheets is that of 11-time National Champion John Heinricy. Heinricy has four consecutive titles in the A Sedan class alone! We spoke to Heinricy's longtime friend and car builder Tom Aquilante. Aquilante let the cat out of the bag that he is currently prepping a car for Heinricy and they will start their quest for an invite to the Runoffs at The Glen in mid-July. “The temptation was just too great,” admits Aquilante. Heinricy could certainly upset the prediction apple cart.
American Sedan has one of the premier lists of drivers in any class in Runoffs competition. Michael Lavigne brings wins at New Hampshire and VIR, while other NEDiv pilots Jerry Post and Kelly Lubash are right behind him with top finishes at New Jersey's Thunderbolt. GLDiv, in addition to Sloe, list John Lechner, Brian Wallace and Rich Jones. MWDiv has hot shoes Shawn Gray, Jim Wheeler and Bret Volkamer all battling for the top spot in their division.
Other contenders who could upset our predictions include John Blizzard with three wins at Portland, Pacific Rim and Reno, and Thomas Himes out of the southwest. Himes has three wins as of this writing. And we can never count out Kyle Watkins from RMDiv. He has a pair of wins at PPIR and is perennially tough at the Runoffs. Tom Ellis and Robert Eubanks have been pulling out all the stops in the southeast while Mitch Mohler, Chris Qualls and Bill Shepergerdes could also factor in if they make the long tow from the West Coast. This should be a good one!