RACE: 24 polesitters at the Valvoline Runoffs

LEXINGTON, Ohio (September 20, 2001) - Final rounds of qualifying were completed today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the 38th running of the Sports Car Club of America's Valvoline Runoffs, under the serene backdrop of the rolling hills that ...

RACE: 24 polesitters at the Valvoline Runoffs

LEXINGTON, Ohio (September 20, 2001) - Final rounds of qualifying were completed today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the 38th running of the Sports Car Club of America's Valvoline Runoffs, under the serene backdrop of the rolling hills that North-Central Ohio provides.

           For the third and final time this week, drivers in 24 classes had the chance to shoot their cars to the pole for their respective 20-lap, "winner-take-all" sprint race. The day's sessions were immensely important as second round qualifying times were dramatically off-pace yesterday due to sporadic showers.

            The familiar high-horsepower, earth-wrinkling torque producing Corvettes, Vipers and Mustangs of the T1 class combined with the T2 class in the day's first session. The most notable incident occurred near the end of the run when a fire had to be extinguished under the rear of Henry Van Vurst's Dodge Viper GTS in the paddock. But it was SportsCar (the official publication of the SCCA) prediction Bobby Archer, in a Viper GTS, that set the pace and seized the pole for Friday's SCCA T1 National Championship event. The Chevrolet Camaro Z28 of Thomas Oates flexed its bowtie muscle and is set to start on theT2 pole.

            Keith Nunes, pilot of the Porter Racing/Nosler Motorsports Swift DB6-1, led the Formula Ford qualifying session that followed in the wake of the Touring classes, and will start on the inside of row one, followed by John LaRue (Citation) and Jason Byers (Van Deimen RF99).

            The F500 class has been dominated all week by Elivan Goulart in an Invader QC-1A. But it's not over until the third and final session is complete- and Thomas Edwards, in a KBS Mark 7, knew it all too well. With a final qualifying effort of 1:32.509 (88.726 mph), Edwards surpassed Goulart and was awarded the pole for Friday's SCCA Championship race.

            SportsCar was accurate on it's predictions for front-runners in the Formula Vee class, as Brad Stout (Vortech) ran a quick lap of 1:41.623 (80.769 mph) to take the pole, followed by Roger Siebenaler (Mysterian M2), with a 1:42.367 (80.182 mph). Bill Wallschlaeger makes his seventh appearance at the Runoffs in the 18th starting slot, but don't count out the driver of the No. 3 VEETECH Engines machine. Wallschlaeger, a former polesitter at the National Championship event, is a perennial high-teens qualifier that knows how to get to the front, with 3 podium finishes in six races. But nothing is guaranteed in this class, as 46 cars (biggest Runoffs field) are slated to start Friday's afternoon's dogfight in FV. 

            The GT2 grid changed considerably, as the two previous qualifying sessions each saw some degree of precipitation. Duane Davis, of Camas, Wash., was the beneficiary of the dry conditions. Davis, another SportsCar selection for Runoffs glory, found the groove in his Toyota Celica and sent yesterday's provisional polesitter, Gus Rosenberg, and his Porsche 911 into a downward spiral to 11th. Favorite Bill Reid, of Knoxville, Tenn., is set to start third in his Toyota Celica.

            The CSR class joined the Formula Atlantic's in group six of 18 on the schedule. Ben Beasley, of Leroy, Ohio, remained strong in the CSR portion of the session and protected the provisional pole time, 1:24.589 (97.033 mph), he set yesterday in the rain, oddly enough. 

Keith Lively, of San Francisco, Calif., has the top spot on the FA grid. Lively, driving a Ralt RT-41, earned the pole on a flyer of 1:21.217, (101.062 mph) and looks to build on his first Runoffs experience last year, where he finished fifth.

            GP exemplifies diversity at the top of their grid, as a Triumph Spitfire, Fiat X 1/9 and Datsun 510 will start one, two, three, respectively. Kevin Allen, of Bowling Green, Ky., is on pole in his Spitfire with a 1:42.418 (80.142 mph), followed by Thomas Reichenbach (Fiat) and Jeff Winter (Datsun).

            Group eight consolidated the F and H Production classes. The session was checkered prematurely due to a late-lap incident involving the No. 01 FP Porsche Speedster of Charles Coker Jr. Coker Jr.'s machine made contact with the wall in turn 11, flooded the racing surface with fluids, and with that came the black flag. FP driver John Saurino was clinging to the provisional pole for the first two rounds, but succumbed to Steve Sargis, in a Triumph Spitfire, who turned a lap of 1:38.835 (83.047 mph) in the final session. John Saurino, of Tulsa, Okla., and Rick Haynes, of Columbus, Ohio, completed the top-three in MG Midgets. Ron Bartell, of Madbury, N.H., turned a lap of 1:44.343 (78.663 mph) in the HP half of the qualifying dash to put his MG Midget on the pole for the second-consecutive year at Mid-Ohio. Bartell is the defending SCCA National Champion in HP as well.

            GT4 and GT5 were owned by Nissans. Wilson Wright Jr.'s fast lap of 1:38.390 (83.423 mph) in yesterday's session proved to be enough as he guided his Nissan 200SX to the pole in GT4. Jim Burke improved on his quick time to earn him the GT5 pole in a Nissan 240SX as well.

            David Roush, of Shelby, Ohio, couldn't improve on his time (1:49.941, 74.658 mph) from second round qualifying, but it was still enough to anchor his Mazda Protégé ES on the pole in Showroom Stock C. Completing the top three were Gene Harrington (Dodge Neon) and Michael Kramer (Saturn SC2).

            Wolfgang Maike, of Santa Barbara, Calif., turned a fast lap on day-one of qualifying for the "Sunoco Race Fuels GT3 Championship" in his Toyota Paseo. The lap proved unbeatable through the sessions that followed and his time of 1:34.024 (87.296 mph) withstood all challenges.

            The story heading into today's final round of qualifying for SSB was David Roush. Roush, already on pole in Showroom Stock C, is pulling double-duty by running a Mazda Miata in SSB. His 1:47.572 had him perched high atop the SSB grid with only today's session preventing from a Showroom Stock sweep. But J. Randolph Saucier had other ideas. Saucier powered his Miata to a 1:47.222 in the last session for the pole, ending Roush's hopes of Showroom Stock dominance.

            In E Production, competitors knew coming into the week that there wouldn't be a repeat SCCA National Champion Sunday, as last year's winner, John Baucom, moved to the SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup. So in Baucom's absence, it was Pratt Cole, in a Mazda Miata, that stepped up his game into the 1:37.000-second range for the first time all week, ripping off a lap of 1:37.594 (84.103 mph) in the final run. But don't overlook heavily favored Tony Rivera in his TR Rotorsports Mazda RX7. Rivera will have to be content with his fifth starting spot, but he plans to stop at nothing to reach the point. One of the forces that fuel his competitive drive is a shot at the Kohler®/SCCA Chicago Region "Triple Crown Award." The Triple Crown Award is comprised of a win at the popular June Sprints® at Road America, a season point championship in the driver's division and a victory at the season-ending Runoffs.

            The Formula Continental pole was won by Mike Andersen, of Green Pond, N.J., with a 1:26.259 (95.155 mph) - a blistering half-second faster than SportsCar selection Arie Luyendyk Jr, in a Van Diemen RF01. Mark Defer, of Streetsboro, Ohio, completed the top three in a Van Diemen RF99.

            The Formula Mazda pole was up for grabs in a family affair. Keith Roberts' Star Form Mazda achieved a 1:28.252 (93.006 mph), which was just enough to edge out twin brother Kevin by .013-seconds.

            Spec Racer Ford pilot Jeff Beck was on pole coming into this afternoon, but it will be Richard Spicer, of Laurel, Md., who leads the 31-car field into turn one on Saturday. Spicer turned a 1:41.397 (80.949 mph) in the only dry SRF session of the week. James Goughary Jr, perennial SCCA Pro Racing Pro Spec Racer contender, will start second, followed by 2001 Pro Spec Racer racewinner Lee Fleming.

            Andy McDermid, of Grand Ledge, Mich., knocked over 0.3-seconds off his already fast time to earn the American Sedan class pole in a Ford Mustang. The class, which boasts some of the most competitive racing at the Runoffs each year, will be one to watch as Kent Biddinger, starts alongside in another Mustang, followed by Ross Murray, in a Pontiac Trans Am.

            The D Sports Racer class pole position was taken by SportCar favorite Michael Reupert, of Hubertus, Wis. Reupert drove his  Lola AMW to a quick time of 1:27.427 (93.884 mph) in search of his third Runoffs title. Sports 2000 was combined with the DSR session and John Fergus, of Powell, Ohio, hammered out a 1:30.259 (90.938 mph) to take the top spot.

            In the final qualifying crusade of the day, Jeff Ervin, of Chesaning, Mich., turned a 1:28.057 (93.212 mph) in his Ford Mustang to secure the pole for the "Fram Filters GT1 Challenge", set to go green Sunday afternoon.

            Starting tomorrow, tune in as the Mid-Ohio track announcers call all 24 Championship races at www.peavey.com, for Peavey Electronics' live audio web broadcasting of the 2001 Runoffs.

            The SCCA continues to groom top-notch, world-class drivers in the most diverse racing organization in the world. As the SCCA enters its 57th year of existence, over 60,000 members within 109 regions across the country compete in almost 2000 sanctioned events per year.


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