Pancea Sets P2 Pace To Earn First Runoffs Title

The Prototype 2 (P2) field at the 60th running of the SCCA® National Championship Runoffs® at VIRginia International Raceway saw a field of 11 – largely made up of Stohr WF1s – take the Hagerty Race Days green flag on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, led by Tire Rack Polesitter and defending P2 National Champion Greg Gyann in his No. 83 Gycor International Stohr WF1 Suzuki. But while Gyann was fast, he wasn’t first to the checkered flag – that honor went to Lucian Pancea.

Gyann wasted no time locking in the first position at the green, with second-place qualifier Tim Day Jr. tucking in behind. Day challenged Gyann into Roller Coaster, clinching the spot. Sherman Chao was in third, but already a full second behind the leaders. On Chao’s heels was Tony Ave, who was fresh off two races earlier in the same day – one of which produced a GT-3 win –  followed by Pancea in fourth.

Working lap four, Gyann attempted an outside pass on Day into Turn 1, but the speed took him into the dirt, handing a multi-second lead to Day and advancing Chao to second with Ave now in third, and Pancea fractions of a second behind.

“It’s just not been a great turn for me all week – usually it is,” Gyann said of the bobble. “I just took it a little too close to the end there, and I was almost there, but almost doesn’t count.”

Day’s lead was not written in stone, and by lap seven, Chao was a half-second off and closing. Then Pancea dropped the hammer, clicking off lap times some two seconds faster than the competition. On lap eight, Pancea charged through and made the pass for the lead. Almost at the same time, Chao spun through Hog Pen.

Day was not about to give up, passing Pancea for the lead into Roller Coaster the next go-round. Day and Pancea set to rocketing around the course, followed by a slightly distant Ave and Gyann, who was working his way back from as low as sixth. At that point, Gyann was turning the fastest laps of the race, and that put him past Ave and into third by the eleventh lap.

“I didn’t know if there was a little damage from the start – I felt it, but I didn’t know,” Gyann said. “The car seemed OK. It was good but not great. It was charging there at the end, but just not enough time, I guess.”

Starting lap 13, Day attempted an inside pass on Pancea, with the pair touching on the front straight. Both continued, but that action surely got the attention of both drivers. For Pancea, he took the opportunity to light the wick even more, sliding through Oak Tree and putting a full second gap on Day by start/finish.

The last lap set the stage for a shootout, with Day 0.301sec off Pancea’s wing as the two began their final trek around VIR’s 3.27-mile full course. The pair pushed hard, with Pancea keeping a narrower line exiting Oak Tree. Day’s speed was plentiful, but Pancea covered the challenge by just enough, taking the win by 0.063sec and claiming his first SCCA National Championship title.

Gyann finished third, some 2.8sec back, with Ave and Chao rounding out the top five.

“I started off racing my good friend Greg [Gyann], and for the first lap both of us were on the edge the whole time,” Day said of his run to the silver in his No. 8 Goodyear/GDRE/Summit/Hawk Stohr WF1 Suzuki. “Then after that, I had Sherman [Chao] chasing me down, and then he started evaporating in the mirrors a little bit. And then [Pancea and I] traded positions a couple times and went toe to toe. [It was] some really good, hard racing.”

Pancea’s victory in his No. 99 Young Racing/Newport Villa/LuckorL Stohr WF1 Kawasaki comes after three consecutive second-place Runoffs finishes in P2, breaking a tradition of him finishing up front, but a little short of the gold.

“It was tough, but we’re here – I’m happy,” Pancea said before spraying Mazza Sparking Wine from the top step of the podium, adding that while he won, he wasn’t sure how his race was going to go until several laps in. “After our last qualifying [session], the car was pretty undrivable, so my team made changes, so I had no idea. I just told myself, hey, I need a clean start, and if the car’s OK then I’ll start driving hard. But I didn’t know probably until the third or fourth lap that I had actually a good car.”

The top five drivers all had good cars, with each of them racing faster than the track record. Pancea, however, was the class of the field, setting the bar with fastest lap of 1:48.829, some 0.562sec faster than the second-fastest driver.

A.J. Snyder was presented with the Sunoco Hard Charger award for his run from 12th to eighth.

Live, online video coverage of Runoffs races, presented by Mazda, is available throughout the three days of competition at, and at SCCA’s official YouTube and Facebook social media channels. Live timing and scoring for each race is also available at

Below are official results for Friday’s Prototype 2 race at the 60th SCCA National Championship Runoffs from VIRginia International Raceway, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps completed.

1, (4), Lucian Pancea, San Antonio, TX, Stohr WF1 Kawasaki, 15.
2, (2), Tim Day Jr, Scottsdale, AZ, Stohr WF1 Suzuki, 15.
3, (1), Greg Gyann, Western Springs, IL, Stohr WF1 Suzuki, 15.
4, (5), Tony Ave, Maiden, NC, Stohr WF1 Suzuki, 15.
5, (3), Sherman Chao, Palm Beach, FL, Stohr WF1 Suzuki, 15.
6, (7), Bart Wolf, Elkhart Lake, WI, Ligier JS49 Honda, 15.
7, (9), Thomas Kaufman, Riviera Beach, FL, Stohr 01D Suzuki, 15.
8, (12), AJ Snyder, Gastonia, NC, Stohr WF1 Suzuki, 15.
9, (6), Mike Reupert, Hubertus, WI, Stohr WF1 Suzuki, 8.
10, (11), Richard Colburn, Northbrook, IL, Nostendo 1 Suzuki, 7.
DNF, (10), Michael Moulton, Wilmington, NC, Stohr WF1, 6.
DNS, (8), Peter Shadowen, West Palm Beach, FL, West WX10 Suzuki,  .

Race Stats

Length of Race: 49.05 miles
Overall Time of Race: 27:40.802 (avg. 106.322 mph)
Margin of Victory: 0.063 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: #99 Lucian Pancea, 1:48.829 (108.170 mph)
Lap Leaders: #8 laps 1-7, 9; #99 laps 8, 10-15
Sunoco Hard Charger: #89 AJ Snyder

Photo caption: Lucian Pancea pounded out fast laps on his way to a P2 National Championship at the 2023 Runoffs.

Photo by Jay Bonvouloir