Indianapolis, Ind. (September 30, 2017) – Redeeming a near-miss from Daytona in 2015, Kip Van Steenburg, of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, snagged a long-awaited E Production title at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs on Saturday on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Chris Dryden, of New Freedom, Pennsylvania, and Jesse Prather, of Topeka, Kansas, completed the podium.
Van Steenburg’s previous Runoffs appearance ended in the lead, one lap prematurely, and his shot at redemption was delayed yet another year due to personal issues. But as chaos reigned all around Van Steenburg’s No. 4 German Excellence Porsche 944, he pulled into Victory Lane with his first title and a 2.441-second margin of victory.
“Daytona was such a heartbreak for me,” the newly crowned champion said. “I put it on the pole, and I’ve run that course so many times. To come one lap from the end and have a caliper fall off the car, that was pretty tough. So this is especially sweet. Last year, my mom passed away, so I had to deal with that and missed the Runoffs. So this is for her, and I couldn’t feel better.”
Van Steenburg got a breather after a hairy moment on lap six during a battle with Tire Rack polesitter Matt Reynolds’ No. 71 Reynolds Brothers Racing/Vintage Conn/JPM Mazda Miata. Reynolds made contact with a lapped car, cutting a tire and ending Reynolds’ day. From there, Van Steenburg managed the gap to the trailing cars and to the checkered flag.
“I was contemplating how I was going to get around that driver, and Matt caught me,” Van Steenburg said. “I thought, I’ll see what Matt does. Sure enough, he got collected and I went on the other side of him. It was almost like using someone like a pick in basketball. After we built a little bit of a lead, it was just trying to manage the tires. My car weighs so much, it just eats up tires, so you have to back up to push it to where there a little bit unhappy, but not completely unhappy.”
The craziness started at the green flag for the field, where just behind Van Steenburg and Reynolds was a flood of race cars.
“The start was absolutely crazy,” Dryden said. “There were nine of us all right there for first four or five laps. You’d look in the mirror and there was somebody else back there the next time.”
Slowly but surely, however, that field thinned out. Joe Moser slowed from second place on lap four and on lap 12 John Brakke spun (and nearly collected Prather) into the gravel in the battle for third. Soon after, a full-course caution came out, without a safety car, for one lap to retrieve yet another parked car.
“Kip played it smart and just kept his foot down,” Dryden said of the full course yellow, which meant no passing around the course. “By the time I realized there was no safety car coming, I tried to catch back up, but I think if I had managed to stay with Kip, then Jesse and I may have been able to run him down. He played it right.”
Prather was one of those who took advantage of the field at the start, moving from the fourth row to second in the first corner.
“I had the best start I could possibly get,” Prather said. “I probably could have gone to the lead, that’s how good of a start it was. Matt (Reynolds) gave me just enough room, up against the wall to the right, and I went around him, too. I think I came out in second, and then Moser went right back around me.”
A three-time champion in a car that was only raced once before the Runoffs, Prather didn’t try to stay in front early – instead, letting the 19-lap race play out.
“I was saying all week that this was going to be a race of patience, and that caught out a couple of people in this race,” Prather said. “We’ve got cars in this class that do different things differently. You’ve got horsepower and you’ve got handling, and we’re all balanced in there. It makes for great racing, but it also makes for the necessity of patience. I think the three of here were probably the most patient out there, and the race just kind of came to us. That’s part of being at the Runoffs, and the more you’re here, the more you realize it.”
Eric Powell, who battled for the podium early in the No. 41 CCP Fabrication/Kostopoulos Autosport Porsche 924S, finished fourth. Brakke recovered from his mid-race spin to finish fifth.
Peter Eels drove his No. 58 Always Green Racing Mazda RX-7 to a 19-position improvement, running from 45th on the grid to 26th at the checkers for the Sunoco Hard Charger award.
The 54th SCCA National Championship Runoffs, the Pinnacle of American Motorsports, crowns Sports Car Club of America’s Road Racing National Champions this year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Friday, September 29 through Sunday, Oct 1.
While the live broadcast of all 28 National Championships is available at SCCA.com and Motor Trend OnDemand, each race will be on demand in the coming weeks.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Provisional results for Saturday’s E Production (EP) race at the 54th SCCA National Championship Runoffs from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.
1, (3), Kip Van Steenburg, New Smyrna Beach, FL, Porsche 944S2, 19.
2, (6), Chris Dryden, New Freedom, PA, BMW Z3, 19.
3, (7), Jesse Prather, Topeka, KS, Mazda RX-7, 19.
4, (9), Eric Powell, Orlando, FL, Porsche 924S, 19.
5, (5), Jon Brakke, Fargo, ND, Mazda Protégé ES, 19.
6, (20), John Mueller, Costa Mesa, CA, Mazda RX-7, 19.
7, (12), Rick Harris, Jamestown, CO, Mazda Miata, 19.
8, (14), Jason Albright, Clayton, OH, Mazda RX-7, 19.
9, (15), Rob Hummel, McHenry, IL, Mazda RX-7, 19.
10, (8), Kevin Leigh, Harrisonburg, VA, BMW Z3, 19.
11, (11), Rick Kosdrosky, Granbury, TX, Caterham 7 America, 19.
12, (16), Jeffrey Cripe, Sarasota, FL, BMW 328i/is, 19.
13, (18), Lance Loughman, Lake Zurich, IL, Datsun 240Z, 19.
14, (31), Greg Kasprzyk, Yatesville, PA, BMW 325i/is, 19.
15, (19), Bowie Gray, Braselton, GA, Mazda RX-8, 19.
16, (23), Heikki Silegren, Gormley, ON, Datsun 240Z, 19.
17, (27), Tim Anastopoulos, Kenosha, WI, BMW 325i/is, 19.
18, (33), Don Bunt, Rockford, IL, Datsun 240Z, 19.
19, (22), Larry Cooper, Sparks, NV, Datsun 240Z, 19.
20, (21), Sam Halkias, Westerville, OH, Triumph TR6, 19.
21, (24), Paul Pineider, Colleyville, TX, Mazda RX-7, 19.
22, (17), James Rogerson, Angleton, TX, BMW Z3, 18.
23, (32), Joseph Boruch, Waterbury, CT, Honda S2000, 18.
24, (26), Aaron Johnson, Bangalore India, ., Honda S2000, 18.
25, (39), Rick Sisk, Washington, MO, Porsche 944, 18.
26, (45), Peter Eells, Dunedin, FL, Mazda RX-7, 18.
27, (35), Steven Jeffers, Fishers, IN, Mazda RX-7, 18.
28, (37), Mark Weber, Saint Louis, MO, Mazda Miata, 18.
29, (40), Donald Walsh, Orrtanna, PA, Mazda RX-7, 18.
30, (42), JB Swan, Braintree, MA, Mazda RX-7, 17.
31, (30), Mike Munson, Bowling Green, KY, Triumph TR6, 16.
32, (25), Don Tucker, Memphis, TN, Mazda Miata, 16.
33, (28), Bill D. Miller, Weston, MO, Mazda RX-7, 14.
34, (44), Amy Dilks, Pleasant Valley, NY, Mazda RX-7, 12.
35, (2), Rick Kavitski, Freeland, PA, Mazda Miata, 11.
36, (29), Steve Smyczek, New Berlin, WI, Mazda RX-7, 9.
37, (36), Rich Olsen, Barrington, IL, Mazda RX-7, 6.
38, (13), Breton Williams, Clinton, IA, Mazda MX-5, 6.
39, (1), Matt Reynolds, Fair Oaks, TX, Mazda Miata, 5.
40, (34), Scott Jeffers, Terre Haute, IN, Mazda RX-7, 5.
41, (43), Morey D. Doyle, Indpls, IN, Triumph TR8, 5.
42, (38), Michael LeVeque, Anderson, IN, Chevrolet Corvair Coupe, 4.
43, (4), Joe Moser, Wilmette, IL, Honda Prelude Si VTEC, 3.
44, (41), Fred Albright, Tipp City, OH, Mazda RX-7, 3.
45, (10), Aaron Downey, Rossmoor, CA, Mazda RX-3, 1.
Length of Race: 49 miles
Overall Time of Race: 36:47.462
Average Speed: 80.315 mph
Margin of Victory: 2.441 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: No. 71 Reynolds 1:50.396 (84.525 mph)
Lap Leaders: No. 71, lap 1; No. 4, laps 2-19
Sunoco Hard Charger: No. 58 Peter Eells
Photo: Kip Van Steenburg crosses the yard of bricks for the win.
Credit: Mark Weber/SCCA