ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Sept. 21, 2013) – Darryl Wills of Houston, Texas, earned his third Formula Mazda victory in four years Saturday in the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs® at Road America. He was followed by Brian Lift of Crestwood, Ill., and Robert Noell of Cary, N.C.
Wills moved from third to first with a series of moves on the third of 10 laps. The race was stopped for nearly 20 minutes after a first-lap accident involving Sam Lockwood and Ken De Nault, who hit the pit wall moments after taking the green flag. Both drivers emerged from their cars under their own power.
Wills’ move came on SafeRacer polesitter Doug Peterson, who led the opening two laps, on the outside of the Carousel, which earned him the Go-Pro Hero Move of the Race. After that, he ran away in his No. 23 Hillenburg Motorsports/Hoosier Tire Star Formula Mazda. His margin of victory over Lift was 14.363 seconds.
“You have to know your competition,” Wills said. “All the fast guys were running Goodyears, except Brian, and we were running Hoosiers, which come in really quick. You have to make your moves fast on Hoosiers.
“I got inside of Doug coming out of (Turn) 8, and we headed for the Carousel. Both of us hit the Carousel, and didn’t lift. We were both catching the car, losing the car, catching the car, losing the car, and I got the front wheels ahead of him as you come through the dips about three-quarters of the way. That’s when my car hooked up, and it was gone.”
Wills, who also won the 2010 and 2011 races, turned the Hawk Performance Hot Lap of the race with a 2:15.492 (106.279 mph), near the end of the 10-lap event. The lap was actually quicker than his qualifying lap of 2:16.042. The field had only completed one dry session since practice began earlier this week.
“I’ve been at this for 40 years – you never let up,” Wills said. “As soon as you let up, if you have a comfortable lead, you let up and you make a mistake. You get out of your rhythm. The car is set up to hammer out 13 laps, wide open, full-on, and that’s exactly what I intended to do.
“We spend a lot of time in this car,” Wills added. “When you’re in a spec car, it’s the little things that make big differences. I have a really good race car.”
Behind Wills, Lift – who started sixth – and Alan McCallum staged a spirited battle for second, swapping the lead numerous times before Lift, in the No. 29 Mazda/Hoosier/Havoc Motorsport Star Formula Mazda, pulled away in the closing minutes.
“I eventually got to third, and Alan and I battled lap after lap after lap, before I finally got a gap,” Lift said. “We both kind of made some mistakes there, but overall, it was a good race.”
Noell, driving the No. 27 Guest Concepts/VIPER Star Formula Mazda, earned third, his first career podium. He said his tires struggled with grip in the early stages of the race, but the car came in as the race continued.
“When we went green, it was just an ice rink out there,” Noell said. “By the time the tires heated up, I began catching everybody. That’s just the way it panned out; we just didn’t have the speed today.
He said he nearly picked off Lift for second, but simply ran out of time.
“I was catching Brian and Alan, but I didn’t know the race was going to end when it ended,” Noell continued. “I got around Alan and was planning on passing Brian in Turn 1, because I had a lot more momentum than he did in Turn 14. When they threw the checkered flag, I was right beside him. I just ran out of laps.”
McCallum, of Houston, Texas, finished fourth in the No. 1 Alan McCallum Racing/GKmotorsports Star Formula Mazda, while Stuart Rettie, also of Houston, was fifth in the No. 21 Hillenburg Motorsports Star Formula Mazda.
The Sunoco Hard Charger of the race was former race winner Juan Marchand, in the No. 06 AGYFIELD.COM/Hoosier Tire/JRM Star Formula Mazda, who moved up eight positions from 16th to eighth.
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.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Provisional results for Saturday’s SCCA FM 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, (3), Darryl Wills, Houston, TX, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
2, (6), Brian Lift, Crestwood, IL, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
3, (4), Robert Noell, Cary, NC, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
4, (2), Alan McCallum, Houston, TX, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
5, (8), Stuart Rettie, Houston, TX, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
6, (7), Jason Vinkemulder, Spring Lake, MI, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
7, (5), Dale Vandenbush, Green Bay, WI, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
8, (16), Juan R Marchand, South Haven, MI, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
9, (9), Dan McBreen, Atlanta, GA, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
10, (10), Conner Kearby, Corpus Christi, TX, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
11, (14), David VanHooser, Enid, OK, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
12, (13), Doug Nelson, Tucson, AZ, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
13, (15), Collin Kearby, Corpus Christi, TX, Star Formula Mazda, 10.
14, (1), Douglas Peterson, Bonita Springs, FL, Star Formula Mazda, 6.
DNF, (11), Sam Lockwood, Cumming, GA, Star Formula Mazda, 0.
DNF, (12), Ken De Nault, Cedar Falls, IA, Star Formula Mazda, 0.
Overall Time of Race: 39:25.943
Average Race Speed: 60.864 mph
Margin of Victory: 14.363 seconds
Hawk Fastest Race Lap: 2:15.492
Fastest Race Lap Average Speed: 106.279 mph
Sunoco Hard Charger: #06 Juan Marchand
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-2, #87 Peterson; Laps 3-10, #23 Wills