Race 11 | Formula Mazda | Saturday, 9:30 a.m.
1 | Juan Marchand | Western Michigan | Formula Mazda
2 | Franklin Futrelle | Atlanta | Formula Mazda | n1
3 | Mike Anderson | San Diego | Formula Mazda
When you're racing in a spec class like Formula Mazda, qualifying well is critical. More often than not, one of the top qualifiers is first into Turn 1 and never looks back. Coming from dead last to win the race is nearly impossible – but that's exactly what Juan Marchand did at this year's June Sprints.
Holding only a troubled first qualifying session, Marchand found himself in 39th place, dead last on grid. But when the checkered flag flew, he had worked his way to the front of the Formula Mazda field, besting last year's polesitter and Champion Franklin Futrelle by 3.4sec.
In a spec car and racing against a demonstrably talented driver like Futrelle, that's nothing short of amazing. Futrelle was said to have suffered a broken header during the race, but that doesn't diminish Marchand's achievement. To get an idea of the dominance shown by these two drivers, third place in FM finished six seconds behind Futrelle.
“For the Runoffs, I'm just going to make sure I have the same car that won the Sprints. What else can I say?” Marchand says.
Among the contenders chasing Marchand and Futrelle at this year's Runoffs will be last year's Runoffs polesitter Jamie Slone and Mike Anderson. Both Slone and Anderson have shown that they've got what it takes to run up front, but they allowed Futrelle to slip by and claim the lead in the first corner last year.
“I am only going to the Runoffs to do one thing – win!” Anderson says.
Also in the hunt could be Russell Lindeman, Scott Rettich, Matt Pombo and Lucian Pancea. All of these
drivers have done well at the Runoffs in the past.
Race 12 | Spec Miata | Saturday, 10:30 a.m.
1 | Jim Drago | Mid-South
2 | Henry “Chip” Van Vurst | Florida
3 | Steve Gorriaran | New England
As amateur racers, most of us admit we could stand to drop a few pounds and get into better shape. We say it, but somehow we don't really believe it. This year, Jim Drago set out to prove that the best racing investment you can make is in yourself.
“After a few crappy races earlier this year and realizing I needed to drop some serious weight, primarily for health benefits but secretly to be more competitive in the racecar, I set a goal to lose 50lbs by the Sprints and win,” Drago says.
When he got to Road America, Drago was down 53lbs and his 1999 Spec Miata was 16lbs under weight. But, of course, he won the race. Still, in Spec Miata, it's not all about the driver; you have to have your car dialed in to run at the front.
“You absolutely need a top car to compete these days,” Drago says. “Secondly, I really like Road America. I have competed in all four Sprints since Spec Miata has gone National.”
If the June Sprints are a dry run for the Runoffs, it looks like this is the year of the 1999 Miata. Case in point: the podium at the June Sprints was occupied by drivers in 1999 cars.
In addition to our podium picks, the top names in Spec Miata will all be in the hunt. Todd Lamb, Mark Bennett, Andrew Charbonneau, Tony Coello and Blake Clements could all make a play for the podium.
Race 13 | Spec Racer Ford | Saturday, 11:30 a.m.
1 | Brian Schofield | Central Florida
2 | Mike Miserendino | Cal Club | n3
3 | Tray Ayers | Atlanta
So count 'em, there were 69 starters at this year's June Sprints, and that didn't even include the three-time consecutive titleholder Mike Miserendino. So, where was he? A check of the SPDiv point totals only shows one outing for the reigning champ, albeit a win. It's our contention that in a class like SRF, you need to keep those skills sharp with competition – just the same, we're not going to count him out.
For our scientific picking of the winner in SRF, we wound up putting all of the names of the likely contenders on little pieces of paper and tossed them in the air. Brian Schofield ended up on the desk, so we picked him to win – that's likely as good a method as any in this fiercely competitive class.
Schofield has six wins to date, and has been tearing up SEDiv. Tray Ayres took the victory at the June Sprints and has proven he has what it takes to win. He has one other win at VIR where he bested Schofield, so a step on the podium is very likely.
A look at others that might upset our predictions includes Jordan Gore, Jean-Luc-Liverato (who turned the fastest lap at this year's Sprints) and Andrew Charbonneau. There's also Bill Jucha, T.J. Acker, Kyle Eggleton and wily veteran Lee Flemming.
But there's more. Keep an eye on Scott Rettich, Jason Barfield J.D. Pfetzing, Rick Bartuska and Reid Johnson. And you can never count out former champs John Black and Richard Spicer – they always have something up their sleeves!
Oh, don't forget Mark Hutchins, Scott Goolbey and Chris Funk. Really, the list could go on and on – the class is that competitive.
Race 14 | Formula Vee | Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
1 | Brad Stout | St. Louis | Vortech | n5
2 | Michael Varacins | Chicago | Speed Sport AM5
3 | Chris Jennerjahn | Indianapolis | Vortech
For Michael Varacins, saying he has a monkey on his back is like saying the Wisconsin sky in September is blue. He has finished second at the last three Runoffs. His June Sprints resume over the same period of time is comparable: second, third and second.
At this year's Sprints, Varacins finally broke through and took the checker first. He's looking forward to the Runoffs at Road America for the next three years.
“Maybe wining the Sprints will enable me to get the Runoffs monkey off my back as well,” he says.
Unfortunately, five-time and defending National Champion Brad Stout stands in the way. Stout won the Sprints from 2001-'07, with three Triple Crowns. He should keep Varacins from tossing off his Runoffs monkey for at least another year.
Two veteran local drivers, Bruce Jennerjahn and his son Chris, are familiar enough with Road America to contend for the crown. They each have a top-four finish the last two years at the Sprints. In fact, over the last six years, Chris has four straight top-five finishes and Brian has five top 10s.
Although neither is a Runoffs veteran – Chris last ran it in 2006 and Brian in 2000 – the final podium spot should belong to one of them. Their experience, particularly at Road America, should offset the fact their best Runoffs finish between them was only 13th.
Chris gets the slight nod over his dad. However, Brian may be hanging up his helmet after this season. That could provide the added incentive for him to go out on the podium.
There is a cadre of drivers who invariably run in the front of the pack. Two-time winners Stevan Davis and Roger Siebenaler, Bob Neumeister and 2004 Champion Jeff Loughead will highlight this group.