LEXINGTON, Ohio (September 23, 2016) – With plans to compete in three different Runoffs classes, Oscar Jackson came to Ohio from Chino, California, nearly 2,300 miles away in search of a national championship. He won’t leave empty handed as he cruised to a Touring 4 win Friday at the 53rd SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Garmin VIRB being held on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Jackson in his red, No. 46 Jackson Racing/BFGoodrich Scion FR-S led the 34-car field to the green flag. He immediately took control of the race with the No. 2 East Street Racing/Mazdaracers.com Mazda MX-5 of Jim Drago, from Memphis, Tennessee, tucked right behind. Kevin Fandozzi, of Saint Joseph, Michigan, fell into third in the No. 27 Insight Driven/Hoosier/LANE Auto Scion FR-S, and Ryan Kowalewski, of Indianapolis, Indiana, filed into fourth in the No. 02 Racecraft 1/QC Mobile Service MX-5 Mazda.
Over the first half of the race, Jackson and Drago hooked up and pulled away from the pack. Then over time, Jackson turned on the juice and began building a gap on Drago as frontrunners pushed through lapped traffic. At one point, Jackson was pinched off at a corner by a driver further down the field. He jammed on the brakes, bumped the slower competitor, and then looked in his mirror to see Drago pounding down the straightaway behind him. Jackson then got refocused and back to work.
But the work didn’t last long as a stalled car brought the field under a full-course yellow late in the race. And behind the pace car, the Touring 4 fight came to a conclusion with Oscar triumphant and claiming his first Runoffs victory.
“Finally,” Jackson said. “This is a dream. It’s really, really a dream. It’s something I’ve dreamt about since I was a kid. This is our third year at the Runoffs, and we had some bad luck the first two years. But this feels great. It’s awesome.”
Drago said that even though the race ended under yellow, he wasn’t sure he had anything for Jackson this day. The two-time champion in Spec Miata was doing his best and trying to keep the tires beneath him in good shape to perhaps take advantage of some misstep. But earning a second-place finish at the Runoffs in T4 is still satisfying.
“I knew my best shot was going to be to drive really hard the first part of the race and just try to say with him,” Drago said. “My game plan was to try and fill his mirrors and stay there as long as I could to see if he would make a mistake. But Oscar did a really good job of knowing where his car was good. Congratulation to him on his first national championship.”
Meanwhile, several seconds behind the Jackson-Drago chess match, two-time Runoffs champ Fandozzi was having a tussle with Kowalewski for the final podium position. At one point, Fandozzi got crossed up a bit, which provided Kowalewski the opportunity to pass and head off to his first Runoffs podium in his very first year of racing.
“It’s been weird all week. I was sitting third or fourth in qualifying and thought to myself, ‘man, I’m pretty disappointed,’” Kowalewski said. “Then I thought, ‘wait, this is amazing!’ When I saw that checkered flag, probably everyone on pit lane could hear me yelling from the car.”
Fandozzi brought his car home in fourth, and Jared Lendrum, of Queensbury, New York, shuttled home his No. 7 North Country Subaru BRZ to a fifth-place finish.
Taking the Sunoco Hard Charger award was Bob Demers in the No. 11 Midway Buick GMC Somersworth Pontiac Solstice, finishing 21st from his 29th-place grid position.
The 53rd SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Garmin VIRB, the Pinnacle of American Motorsports, crowns Sports Car Club of America’s Club Racing National Champions this year at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, from Friday, September 23 through Sunday, September 25.
While the live broadcast of all 28 National Championships is available live at SCCA.com, each race will be on demand in the coming weeks.
LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Provisional results for Friday’s SCCA Touring 4 National Championship at the 53rd SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Garmin VIRB at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (1), Oscar Jackson, Chino, CA, Scion FR-S, 20.
2, (2), Jim Drago, Memphis, TN, Mazda MX-5, 20.
3, (4), Ryan Kowalewski, INDIANAPOLIS, IN, Mazda MX-5, 20.
4, (3), Kevin Fandozzi, Saint Joseph, MI, Scion FR-S, 20.
5, (5), Jared Lendrum, Queensbury, NY, Subaru BRZ, 20.
6, (7), Don Knowles, Pittsboro, NC, Mazda RX-8, 20.
7, (10), Jason Shultz, Millersburg, OH, Mazda MX-5, 20.
8, (8), Philip Royle, Thousand Oaks, CA, Honda Civic SI, 20.
9, (14), Kevin Fryer, Arlington, VA, Mazda MX-5, 20.
10, (12), Scotty B White, Auburn, WA, Ford Mustang V6, 20.
11, (11), James Ebben, Appleton, WI, Mazda MX-5, 20.
12, (9), Kevin Koelemeyer, Fort Myers, FL, Mazda MX-5, 20.
13, (18), Richard Dickey, Columbus, IN, Mazda RX-8, 20.
14, (15), Steven Zink, Henderson, NV, Mazda RX-8, 20.
15, (16), Tim Myers, Atlanta, GA, Mazda RX-8, 20.
16, (17), Jeffrey Jensen, Monument, CO, Acura RSX Type-S, 20.
17, (13), Jonathan Yanca, Saline, MI, Mazda MX-5, 20.
18, (20), Dave Kutney, West Chester, OH, Pontiac Solstice, 20.
19, (24), Kristina Etherington, Henderson, NV, Mazda RX-8, 20.
20, (22), Douglas Chan, Torrance, CA, Honda Civic SI, 20.
21, (29), Bob Demers, Dover, NH, Pontiac Solstice, 20.
22, (27), Ali Naimi, Morgan Hill, CA, Mazda MX-5, 20.
23, (28), Dan Hardison, Delaware, OH, Pontiac Firebird, 20.
24, (31), Brian Husting, Irvine, CA, Chevrolet Cobalt SS, 19.
25, (32), Steven Christopher, Olathe, KS, Mazda MX-5, 19.
26, (34), L. Huston, Friendswood, TX, Ford Mustang V6, 19.
27, (33), Keith Jones, Lorain, OH, Mazda MX-5, 19.
28, (25), Ralph Porter, Kokomo, IN, Pontiac Solstice, 15.
29, (6), Tom Wickersham, San Ramon, CA, Mazda MX-5, 10.
30, (30), Stanislas Czacki, Truth or Consequences, NM, Acura RSX Type-S, 7.
31, (26), David Ogburn, San Angelo, TX, Toyota Corrola XRS, 7.
32, (23), Steve Strickland, Marion, VA, Mazda MX-5, 6.
33, (19), Derrick Ambrose, Brush Prairie, WA, Mazda 3s, 0.
34, (21), Matthew Downing, Pickerington, OH, Pontiac Solstice, 0.
Overall Time of Race: 37:49.132
Average Race Speed: 71.647 mph
Margin of Victory: .740 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: Oscar Jackson, 1:40.397 (80.967 mph)
Sunoco Hard Charger: #11 Bob Demers
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-20, #46 Oscar Jackson
Photo: Oscar Jackson taking Touring 4 win at Runoffs.
Credit: Shawn Lumley