ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Sept. 20, 2013) – Lawrence Loshak, of Grafton, Wis., earned his second SCCA National Championship in six hours Friday at Road America, winning the H Production class at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs®. William Trainer, of Lake of the Hills, Ill., and W. Jay Griffin, of Titusville, Fla., completed the podium.
After coming from last place to earn the Formula 1000 National Championship in the morning, Loshak started from the SafeRacer Pole Position in the No. 02 ETE Reman/RMW Auto/Hoosier Honda CRX and led into Turn One, but chaos ensued behind as Griffin and Tim Pitts made slight contact battling for second, with Pitts’ No. 11 Performance Tuning Volkswagen Golf spinning in the middle of the track.
The rest of the 28-car field avoided Pitts, but as the scattering cars came back onto the track, several got together, including the No. 03 ETE Reman/Roy Carrera/HPD Honda CRX of defending Champion Mike Moser, which made heavy impact with the wall at Turn Two. The ensuing cleanup brought out a black flag, with the cars stopping in pit lane for 15 minutes.
The field was re-set in grid order, minus Moser, Ron Bartell and Brooke Fairbanks, and restarted the race working lap three. Loshak got a clean restart, but had trouble getting the car to downshift into fourth gear in Turn One. That bobble dropped him to fourth place, promoting Trainer’s No. 17 Volkswagen Scirocco to the lead.
Loshak spent the next two laps gaining ground on Trainer and Pitts, finally taking the lead from Trainer entering the Kink.
“You know, sometimes when you get a run, you gotta go,” Loshak said of the move into the most daunting corner of Road America. “You follow them around, kind of get a judge of character of who you’re racing with, and these guys have been awesome. If I didn’t feel safe, I wouldn’t have done it. I got a run, and we were very respectful of each other when we went through there. I was ready to go two-wide with him. You gotta do it, especially at the National Championships. It worked out.”
From there, Loshak gradually pulled away to a 11.257-second win in the time-limited, 10-lap race.
“We knew Tuesday was going to be the money day because of the weather coming in, and then we saw the schedule and Formula 1000 first and then I didn’t even take my helmet off, got a ride on the golf cart, and hopped in the CRX,” Loshak recalled of running the different cars back-to-back. “No doubt there’s an adjustment, but in some ways it’s helpful because you’re so used to going so fast in the formula car, you carry more speed.
“It’s obviously completely different, but Production is where I started. I always wanted to go open-wheel or sports racing, but I always come back. I love the tin tops, and H Production is just so cool. I’m used to E Production or DSR, and they’re basically ticking time bombs. H Production, the package we have to run, the thing can’t make enough horsepower to hurt itself. That’s just a delight for a race car. [Mike] Moser let me take it for a spin this year, and that was really all I had planned for this year until I got that phone call for Formula B.”
It was the third win for the CRX that Moser owns, joining Dan Meller’s 2009 win and Moser’s 2012 win.
Loshak’s other titles came in E Production (2006) and D Sports Racing (2009), and he joined Jerry Hansen, John Heinricy and Tom Schweitz as the only drivers to win the Runoffs in four different classes in its 50-year history. He also became the 17th driver to win two Championships in the same year.
“It’s amazing. Winning never gets old. This Runoffs, it’s an emotional one. It’s special, it was a tough road to get here, I don’t know what the future holds. I love racing.”
Trainer gained separation from the rest of the pack to score his career-best finish of second.
“When you’re in a race with who I will call ‘Mr. Runoffs,’ who won all season, who won a National Championship this morning, it was really quite a moment,” Trainer said of leading the race. “I think Lawrence missed a shift and I got around him, so I pulled out and thought ‘oh my gosh, I’m actually leading the Runoffs.’ I had nothing but clear track in front of me. I kept watching, and as long as I didn’t see his car, I felt safe!
“All of a sudden I saw the yellow and black coming, and he caught up with me. I knew I had a good car, and it was just a lot of chaos. It was an interesting race, but it was a lot of fun. That top-10, the whole field actually, was pretty good. When you’re out there, you just hear all the footsteps, and you just try to stay on point and not mess up.”
Griffin was in a five-way battle for the final podium position with his No. 6 Boles Motorsports/Hoosier Tire Honda CRX Si, losing the spot in Turn 12 on the final lap, but regaining it from 2011 Champion Greg Gauper in Turn 14 and winning the drag race up the front straight.
“I thought I was third going into Canada Corner, and I just blew it,” Griffin said. “I made a huge mistake and I couldn’t get a gear going into the turn. Greg [Gauper] got up next to me. Going into 14, Greg left an opening, and I went for it. He chased me up the hill in the draft, and I saw him coming, I was hoping I was going to have enough.
“I feel most elated to finish this race. I’ve never finished this race in six attempts. The podium is just icing on the cake!”
The move to regain third was deemed the GoPro Hero Move of the Race.
Gauper finished fourth, 0.041-second off the podium in his No. 15 Rana Mort Racing/King Motorsports Honda Civic Si. Matt Brannon came from 10th on the grid to finish fifth in his No. 2 Midwest-Bayless Italian Auto Fiat X-1/9.
Alex Burnett, of Louisville, Colo., finished 14th after starting 27th to earn the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
Chris Albin, whose day ended on lap seven against the Turn Seven wall with Bob Kelly, earned the Hawk Hot Lap award for turning the race’s fastest lap of 2:43.026 (88.329 mph) in his No. 3 Hoosier/247-parts.com/AMT Engines Volkswagen Golf. Neither driver was injured in the incident.
The 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs®, The Pinnacle of American Motorsports, will crown Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing National Champions at Road America, Friday, September 20 through Sunday, September 22.
Follow all the live timing and scoring and get results at www.scca.com/runoffs. Live Twitter stream is available @SCCALive. Follow this weekend’s races on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SCCAOfficial.
The live broadcast of all 28 National Championship races will be available through Sunday at www.SpeedcastTV.com/scca and later available On Demand from the same site.