LEXINGTON, Ohio (September 22, 2016) – The Sports Car Club of America record book will need to be rewritten now that qualifying has concluded for the 53rd SCCA National Championship Runoffs, presented by Garmin VIRB, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. In all, nearly a dozen Runoffs qualifying records were broken over four days leading to the national championship races this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Formula Enterprises ace Scott Rettich now claims the all-time record for most consecutive poles in a class. On Thursday, Rettich grabbed his eighth-straight FE Tire Rack Pole, the most by any Runoffs competitor. Before the week started, Rettich was tied with former A Sports racer Jerry Hansen, both having seven consecutive pole starts.
“It just feels incredible to break Jerry Hansen’s record,” Rettich said beneath the shade of his paddock tent. “That record is 35 years old and Jerry was so dominant for so many years.
“A few years back after I got five poles in a row at Road America, I started to think ‘OK, we’re really starting to achieve something here,’” Rettich continued. “But I’m not thinking about the streak now. This afternoon we’ll celebrate a little bit, get to bed early and then be ready for our 8 a.m. race Friday morning.”
The all-time fastest Mid-Ohio Runoffs qualifying lap was also reset Thursday. Ryan Norman put down a lap of 1:16.174 to take the top spot in Formula Atlantic on Wednesday, but felt he had more in the car. And boy did he as the old record, established in 2005 by now IndyCar racer Graham Rahal, was obliterated by 1.68 seconds when Norman posted a lap of 1:14.920 around the 2.258-mile, 13-turn course. That’s an average speed of 108.5 mph.
Staying with the record-breaking theme, John LaRue in Formula Continental has earned his first Tire Rack Pole while taking almost two seconds off the previous Mid-Ohio SCCA Runoffs qualifying record in the class. And Andrew Aquilante gobbled up his third championship pole in GT-2, and ninth overall in Runoffs competition. He also grabbed a new GT-2 Runoffs qualifying record at Mid-Ohio by chopping nearly three-tenths off the previous time.
“I think all the records falling this year comes down to classes evolving, improved tire technology, the track changing … and use of data,” Aquilante pointed out. “The last Runoffs here at Mid-Ohio was in 2005, that’s just when we started playing with GPS data systems. Data acquisition has evolved so much that it now changes the way we drive.”
For Charles Hurley in Touring 3, this is his first trip to the SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Garmin VIRB and his first Tire Rack Pole. After qualifying, Hurley took a moment to reflect on his recent achievement, and a smile began to emerge on his face.
“This is really exciting. I knew the car had it and I knew I had it in me,” Hurley said with a slight grin. “On Monday, the first day of qualifying, I finished up learning the track. Then on Wednesday, my car was ready to go to town and we laid down the pole-winning lap.”
Another Runoffs newbie, Jacob Loomis in Formula Mazda, also earned his first Tire Rack Pole. Formula F racer Neil Verhagen, at only 15 years old, did the same in his first visit to the Runoffs, controlling the top spot all week. And Super Touring Under’s Cameron Maugeri can now claim one Tire Rack Pole for one Runoffs appearance.
Joe Kristensen was in command of the GT-3 field, leading at the end of every qualifying session the first three days. But on Thursday, Gary Bockman jumped up on the very last lap to snatch away the GT-3 pole, his very first. And the same happened to Michael Varacins who had Formula Vee in control until the end of the last qualifying session when Alex Scaler popped up and stole the Tire Rack Pole on his second Runoffs attempt while also resetting the class record at Mid-Ohio by 1.2 seconds. And a similar situation occurred in F Production as pole was settled on the final lap. John Walker, who had car troubles all week and didn’t turn a lap, stormed through to reset the Runoffs qualifying record in FP at Mid-Ohio by dropping it two-tenths for his first Tire Rack Pole.
In American Sedan, Tom Sloe had been at the top of the heap all week. But in the final qualifying session Thursday morning, former Runoffs winner Edward Hosni emerged to claim the Tire Rack Pole and set a new Mid-Ohio SCCA Runoffs qualifying record at 1:32.881, nearly four seconds faster than the previous mark. The unexpected continued in E Production when Michael Galati, who hasn’t raced at the national championships since 1997, turned it up and took the Tire Rack Pole, which makes seven in his Runoffs career. He also reset the class Runoffs qualifying record for the track by two tenths.
The Touring 2 field had been led by John Buttermore all week, but defending Runoffs champion Kurt Rezzetano, who has claimed the last three Runoffs poles in the class, stepped up and did it again Thursday. James Devenport in Prototype 1 shined again Thursday by cutting down his qualifying time. He’s been in command of P1 all week and earns his first Tire Rack Pole Award. Defending champion Kevin Boehm in Super Touring Lite also held the top spot all four days to earn his second Tire Rack Pole. Then Calvin Stewart, defending Formula 500 champ, took his first Tire Rack Pole after remaining at the top of the chart all week, and also set a new Mid-Ohio Runoffs qualifying lap record in the class.
Tom Feller capped off a week of dominance with his fourth Tire Rack Pole in H Production. Continuing the qualifying shutout was GT-1’s Cliff Ebben who led the pack four days straight. This is Ebben’s sixth Tire Rack Pole and he now owns the new GT-1 Runoffs qualifying lap record at Mid-Ohio. Ross Murray in Touring 1 also swept the week’s qualifying for his third Runoffs pole. And Prototype 2 pilot Jeff Shafer had things his way all week to handily pocket the pole in only his second visit to the SCCA’s annual championship. First-time Formula 1000 Tire Rack Pole winner Alex Mayer accomplished the same, taking the pole on day one and never looking back.
Mike Miserendino earned the Spec Racer Ford Tire Rack Pole Award, his fourth. In GT-Lite, Kyle Disque went to the head of the class Wednesday and didn’t relinquish the position to claim his first Tire Rack Pole and the new Runoffs track qualifying record in class. Oscar Jackson also claimed his very first Touring 4 pole, and B-Spec’s David Daughtery gathered up his sixth Runoffs pole.
Justin Hille in only his second Runoffs appearance will lead the 45-car Spec Miata field to the green flag for the first time, and the 41-car Spec Racer Ford Gen3 class was finally settled Thursday when John Black sealed the deal for his ninth Runoffs pole.
Every SCCA Runoffs championship race will be broadcast live online Friday, Saturday and Sunday at SCCA.com. Below are provisional pole sitters in each class for the 2016 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, presented by Garmin VIRB, with Class: Name, Hometown, Car and Lap Time.
-American Sedan: Edward Hosni; Hilliard, OH; Ford Mustang; 1:32.881
-B-Spec: David Daughtery; Fortville, IN; Honda Fit; 1:46.865
-E Production: Michael Galati; North Olmsted; Honda S2000; 1:33.847
-F Production: John Walker; Richland, MI; Lotus Super Seven; 1:35.938
-H Production: Tom Feller; Holland, MI; Triumph Spitfire; 1:40.409
-Formula 1000: Alex Mayer; Harleysville, PA; JDR 2014 Yamaha; 1:19.983
-Formula 500: Calvin Stewart; Novi, MI; Novakar Blade F600 1:28.528
-Formula Atlantic: Ryan Norman; Aurora, OH; Swift 016a Mazda; 1:14.920
-Formula Continental: John LaRue; Muncie, IN; Citation Snipe FC; 1:21.962
-Formula Enterprises: Scott Rettich; Columbus, OH; SCCA Formula Enterprises; 1:27.636
-Formula F: Neil Verhagen; Mooresville, NC; Mygale SJ11 Honda; 1:30.109
-Formula Mazda: Jacob Loomis; Corinth, TX; Formula Mazda; 1:27.086
-Formula Vee: Alex Scaler; Flemington, NJ; Mysterian CM2; 1:37.942
-GT-1: Cliff Ebben; Freedom, WI; Ford Mustang; 1:21.927
-GT-2: Andrew Aquilante; Chester Springs, PA; Chevrolet Corvette; 1:25.405
-GT-3: Gary Bockman; Portland, OR; Mazda RX-3; 1:31.401
-GT-Lite: Kyle Disque; Philadelphia, PA; Toyota Tercel; 1:35.744
-Prototype 1: James Devenport; Modesto, CA; Norma Auto Concept M20 FC Honda; 1:17.308
-Prototype 2: Jeff Schafer; Las Vegas, NV; Stohr WF1 Hyabusa; 1:20.188
-Spec Miata: Justin Hille; Ypsilanti, MI; Mazda Miata; 1:40.514
-Spec Racer Ford 3: John Black; Olympic Valley, CA; SCCA Spec Racer Ford 3; 1:34.363
-Spec Racer Ford: Mike Miserendino; Bakersfield, CA; Spec Racer Ford; 1:37.344
-Super Touring Lite: Kevin Boehm; Marysville, OH; Honda Civic Si; 1:35.891
-Super Touring Under: Cameron Maugeri; Holly Hill, FL; Lotus Exige; 1:34.302
-Touring 1: Ross Murray; Marina Del Rey, CA; Dodge Viper; 1:28.656
-Touring 2: Kurt Rezzetano; Phoenixville, PA; Ford Mustang GT; 1:31.708
-Touring 3: Charles Hurley; Monroe, WA; BMW 330Ci Coupe; 1:36.741
-Touring 4: Oscar Jackson; Chino, CA; Scion FR-S; 1:39.590
Photo: Formula Enterprises superstar Scott Rettich on his way to set a record for most consecutive Runoffs poles.
Credit: Digital Automotive Depictions