After three days of qualifying, the 57th SCCA National Championship Runoffs is ready to race. Each of SCCA’s 26 classes will run on Friday, Saturday or Sunday at Road America, where all races are 13 laps or 40-minutes, whichever comes first.
Each race is streamed live on SCCA.com, with the video coverage presented by Mazda. Bob Varsha, Ryan Myrehn, Tom O’Gorman and Larry MacLeod will serve as the rotating announce team, while Heyward Wagner again provides coverage from pit lane.
Mazda or Mazda-powered cars will start on the pole of six races during the weekend, and near the front in seven others. Based on those qualifying times, we’ll be paying extra special attention to the following races:
GT-3, 11:15 a.m. CT race time: Mike Lewis earned his 12th career Runoffs pole and a leg up on claiming the GT-3 Challenge presented by MPI with a Runoffs-record lap of 2:21.882 in his RX-7. Defending class champion Jeff Dernehl followed close behind as Mazda swept the front-row. Taz Harvey and Stacy Wilson will both start on row three and sit ready to capitalize on any mistakes from the front runners.
Spec Miata, 1:00 p.m. CT race time: Kyle Greenhill and Voytek Burdzy teamed up during Thursday’s Spec Miata qualifying, with the Advanced Autosport duo pushing past the East Street Racing pairing of Jim Drago and Todd Buras. Greenhill’s time of 2:42.209 moved him into the top spot, ahead of all 77 cars on the grid for Friday’s race. The pole is the first of Greenhill’s Runoffs career in just his second appearance.
Tyler Brown and Konrad Czaczyk will start on row three, followed by Justin Casey and Preston Pardus, with Brian Henderson and Daniel Bender completing the top 10.
Spec Miata is the largest field at this year’s Runoffs.
Prototype 2, 2:00 p.m. CT race time: Defending class champion Tray Ayres will start third in his Van Diemen ESR Mazda, but was the quickest on the final day of qualifying and has improved throughout the week. Though likely an underdog as the only Mazda in the field, a podium or more seems within reach.
F Production, 3:00 p.m. CT race time: A gaggle of Miatas are on the outside looking after F Production qualifying, but with reason to believe a podium – or a win – is in reach on race day. David Bednarz, Ken Kannard, Eric Prill, Charlie Campbell, and Sam Henry qualified fourth through eighth and have an excellent chance to race into the top three at Road America.
Formula Atlantic, 5:00 p.m. CT race time: Mazda engines power the top 10 qualifiers in Formula Atlantic, led by Spencer Brockman’s Swift 014a. Hans Peter, defending champion Flinn Lazier and Lee Alexander make up the first two rows in the race that will cap the day on Friday.
B-Spec, 10:15 a.m. CT race time: Rick Harris was the highest qualifying Mazda2 in the class and will start on the outside of row three for Saturday’s race. In all, five Mazda2s will take the green flag in B-Spec as it is becoming more competitive in the class, with development work underway.
E Production, 2:00 p.m. CT race time: Mazda drivers missed the pole in E Production, but filled positions two through four and look like strong contenders for the podium. John Hainsworth’s RX-7 will start third, sandwiched by Jon Brakke (starting second) and Matt Reynolds. Both Brakke and Reynolds are in NB Miatas.
Formula X, 5:00 p.m. CT race time: Formula X, SCCA’s newest official class that combined a variety of winged open wheel machines into one class, is another dominated by Mazda-power. Jacob Loomis’ fast time of 2:16.968 is in a Star Formula Mazda.
Touring 4, 8:15 a.m. CT race time: Michael Borden’s NC MX-5 was the top qualifying Mazda in Touring 4, sitting third behind 14-time champion John Heinricy in the class. Borden was the Hoosier Super Tour season-long point leader, and his lap time of 2:38.152 is under the previous track record.
“Everything came together today after working with Tom Long and the Mazda Motorsports provided coaching,” Borden said. “I laid down my fastest time at Road America yet. Things are looking good for the race on Sunday. I’m happy starting third since the higher-powered cars will beat me to Turn One anyway. The Miata is very strong in the draft, so my plan is to hang on and have the better car at the end.”
Rows three and four are comprised of Mazdas of Steve Bertok, Richard Mooney, Richard Dickey and James Ebben. Of that group, Dickey is the lone RX-8 in a field of MX-5s.
H Production, 9:15 a.m. CT race time: Mark Brakke is the lone Mazda in a field traditionally known for older cars. Brakke’s Mazda2 will start fourth on the grid with an eye on the podium.
Super Touring Lite, 10:15 a.m. CT race time: Danny Steyn’s Thursday qualifying run leapt him to the top of the Super Touring Lite charts in his NC MX-5 with a flier of 2:31.420 and a new Runoffs qualifying record. Steyn’s pole is the third of his career. The questions for Steyn will come as the race moves into the second half.
“I just cannot keep my qualifying pace up as the extra weight just kills the tires, whereas I think that Joe (Moser) can stay at that pace all day,” Steyn said.
The Miatas of Nick Iarossi, Justin Elder, David Palfenier and Brian Laughlin qualified seventh through 10th and are poised to move forward in the race.
Formula Enterprises 2, 2:00 p.m. CT race time: Scott Rettich earned his ninth pole in the Mazda-powered Formula Enterprise machines, and is searching for his seventh career Runoffs title on Sunday. Liam Snyder, Max Grau and Russell Turner make up the rest of the first two rows, with just one second separating first from seventh in the spec open-wheel class.
Prototype 1, 4:00 p.m. CT race time: Jean Luc-Liverato will start second in his Mazda-powered Elan DP02, but the reliability of the Mazda with nearly identical speed as the pole sitter makes him the one to watch in this battle. Five of the top six qualifiers in the class have the same Mazda power plant in the Elan chassis, giving the Mazda Motorsports team an opportunity to sweep the podium to end the 57th Runoffs.
Photo by Mark Webber