ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Sept. 21, 2013) – James Weida, of West Lafayette, Ind., earned his first SCCA National Championship Runoffs podium in a big way on Friday at Road America, winning the Formula 500 National Championship. Aaron Ellis, of Farmington, Minn., and Steven Jondal, of Somerset, Wis., completed the podium.
Weida averaged 99.114 mph in the No. 22 Weida Aparments/Formula X-1 Scorpion S1 Rotax over the 13-lap, 52-mile race to win by 11.471 seconds. Weida turned the Hawk Hot Lap of 2:22.600 (100.982 mph) on his way to victory.
“It feels really good,” Weida said of his win and first podium. “I don’t know how to act up here; these guys have been here before, but I haven’t, so it’s all new to me.”
The race opened with CJ McAbee, of Topeka, Kan., braking late into the first corner and moving from third to the lead in his No. 15 AJ’s Import Garage/Hoosier AJ’s 2012/Rotax with the GoPro Hero Move of the Race, opening a small gap on the field.
Hometown racer and two-time defending champion Michael Mueller, of Plymouth, Wis., caught McAbee on the opening lap and drafted past on the front straight to take the lead. The pair swapped the lead at least five times on the second lap, and the battle kept up until McAbee pulled into pit lane on lap five, out of the race with a broken pipe.
Mueller’s No. 24 MJ Manufacturing/Fibeco/Hoosier/HRP Red Devil/Rotax held the lead until Weida tracked him down on lap eight. Weida took the lead going into Turn One on lap nine, and soon after the eventual champion made the pass for the lead, Mueller stuck his hand up to alert the approaching drivers and exited the course at Turn Five with a mechanical failure of his own.
Now comfortably in front, Weida had clear sailing to his first National Championship.
“I thought I was a sitting duck on the start,” Weida said. “I think I was sixth or seventh after Turn 5. CJ [McAbee] got a good run, and Michael Brent came from nowhere – I thought he was almost in the grass. And then, Jondal came screaming by everybody. I thought I had totally missed the setup, and felt terrible, going from first to sixth or something like that.
“The first lap, my car was really loose, and then it started handling better. My crew started telling me that I was running faster, so I took my time catching him. I just concentrated on my driving and reeled him in.”
Behind Weida was a skirmish that started for fourth, and with attrition became a battle for second and third.
The No. 43 Carlisle/CFF/Ellis Motorsports Ellis AE06/Rotax of Ellis, the No. 38 Jondal Machine/Hoosier/Red Devil Red Devil T-8/Rotax of Steven Jondal, and the No. 31 T&R Fabricating TR1 Stinger of Steven Thompson were three deep, moving through the field as the leaders fell out.
Ellis got clear of Jondal and Thompson on lap 11, and marched to his fifth-career podium.
“After the race got going, and started to settle down, I was in fourth place there and had a pretty good battle with the two Steves,” Ellis said. “I thought if I could break away from there for a while, I thought I might have had a good chance to catch back up with James. At the first part of the race, I could still see him. By the time we got to dicing a little bit, we lost a little time to him, and I couldn’t see them after that. I was holding on to what I thought was fourth place, and it worked out.”
Jondal and Thompson continued to duel until lap 12, when Thompson ran wide through the kink and into the grass. Thompson almost gathered it up in the fast, tricky corner, but brushed the left wall and ended his day a lap too soon, in 12th place.
That allowed Jondal to finish with an unexpected podium, not knowing of the attrition of the leaders up front.
“It was a great race,” Jondal said. “It was a lot of fun. I had no idea that I was even in third place. I don’t have my helmet wired or anything like that. I was back in the pack. We were just dicing the whole time, and had cars flying around us. A couple of times I thought he just pulled away from me, and Mike [Ellis], after the first lap and a half, he went by me and I never saw him again. You can’t get any more fun for the dollar than this. It was a great time.”
Kris Larsen, of Kewaunee, Wis., finished fourth in the No. 17 L&L Racing powered by HRP Scorpion/Rotax, with Michael Brent, of Bethel, Conn., finishing fifth in the No. 47 Hoosier Tire/QRE Invader QC1/Rotax.
Timothy Friest earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award, improving from 20th on the grid to 11 in the No. 86 XTRacing/Rod End Supply/Mobile Reason KBS MkVIII/Rotax.
The 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs®, The Pinnacle of American Motorsports, crown Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing National Champions at Road America, Friday, Sept. 20 through Sunday, Sept. 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.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Provisional results for Saturday’s Formula 500 national championship at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America, with finish position, starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), James Weida, West Lafayette, IN, Scorpion S1 Rotax, 13.
2, (5), Aaron Ellis, Farmington, MN, Ellis AE06 Rotax, 13.
3, (4), Steven A Jondal, Somerset, WI, Red Devil T-8 Rotax, 13.
4, (9), Kris Larsen, Kewaunee, WI, Scorpion S1 Rotax, 13.
5, (7), Michael Brent, Bethel, CT, QRE Invader QC1 Rotax 494, 13.
6, (10), Jeff Jorgenson, San Francisco, CA, QRE Invader QC1 Rotax, 13.
7, (14), Jack Walbran, Saint Louis, MO, Scorpion S1 Rotax, 13.
8, (16), Jay Beckley, Marlton, NJ, QRE Invader QC1 Rotax, 13.
9, (17), H Cory McLeod, Charlotte, NC, Red Devil , 13.
10, (18), Jeff Blumenthal, Independence, OH, QRE Invader QC1 Rotax 493, 13.
11, (20), Timothy Friest, Leavenworth, KS, KBS MKVII Rotax, 13.
12, (6), Steven Thompson, Royal Oak, MI, T&R Fab TR1 Stinger Rotax, 12.
13, (22), Don Colanero, Mount Laurel, NJ, KBS MKV Rotax, 12.
14, (19), Joseph Palmer, Coppell, TX, NovaKar J9 Rotax, 12.
15, (23), David Vincent, Leavenworth, KS, KBS Mk VII Rotax, 12.
16, (21), Charlie Schlismann, Homewood, IL, KBS Ramblebee Mk 7 Rotax 494, 12.
17, (26), Chris Hodde, McKinney, TX, KBS MK7, 12.
18, (28), Glen Smeal, San Marcos, TX, Red Devil T-2000 Rotax, 12.
19, (25), Chuck McAbee, Jacksonville, FL, QRE Invader QC1 Rotax, 12.
20, (27), Owen Henley, Barksdale, TX, Red Devil Rotax, 11.
21, (12), Darrel Greening, Fond Du Lac, WI, Red Devil BR-2K2 Rotax, 9.
22, (2), Michael Mueller, Plymouth, WI, Red Devil Rotax, 8.
DNF, (13), Brian Brothers, Lake Orion, MI, T&R Fab TR1 Stinger Rotax, 5.
DNF, (24), F Russell Strate, Alden, NY, Rocktech , 5.
DNF, (3), C.J. McAbee, Topeka, KS, AJ's 2012, 4.
DNF, (11), Jeremy Morales, Glen Head, NY, Scorpion S1 Rotax, 3.
DNF, (8), Keith Joslyn, Grand Island, NY, QRE Invader QC1 Rotax, 0.
DNF, (15), Herb Noble, Marion, IA, Scorpion S1 Rotax 494, 0.
Overall Time of Race: 31:28.737
Average Race Speed: 99.114 mph
Margin of Victory: 11.471 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:22.600
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 100.982 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #86 Timothy Friest
Lap Leaders: #24 laps 1, 3-9; #15 lap 2; #22 laps 9-13