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SCCA Valvoline Runoffs® Notebook:
Day One
GT2 Race For The Ages As Isabel Stays Away

Lexington, OH, September 19, 2003 Isabel, Who? With the possibility of the remnants of Isabel spelling doom for the day and sheets of raining coming down during the warmups, virtually everyone went out to test their wet setups. However, the rain stopped before the first race, though it was still a wet track, and the sun was out by the third race. Clouds still drifted by, but the day was nearly perfect. Saturday and Sunday promises to be absolutely perfect.

GT2 Thriller. By far the best race of the day, most likely the weekend, and quite possibly in Runoffs history, was the last race of the day. The GT2 field was relatively small, but what it lacked in quantity, it certainly did not in quality. It started when pole sitter David Finch was punted out of the race on the first lap by Bill Reid. This allowed Duane Davis, second all time with the most national titles at twelve, to take the lead followed by Reid and James Goughary, Sr. The three of them then put on a display of driving and passing that wowed the crowd. But, that wasn't enough. The last lap alone was a highlight show, as each driver took a stab at the win. Something had to give, and finally it did when Davis and Reid went side by side through the Carrousel, and then spun, side by side. This allowed Goughary in a Nissan 350X to speed by for his second GT2 title. Meanwhile, with the fourth place driver, Tom Patton, half a lap behind, the two drivers in the grass weren't moving. Just as Patton entered the Carrousel, both drivers finally re-entered the track, and barely took second and third, with Davis leading Reid, a hundred yards ahead of Patton. The crowd was left breathless. Truly, one for the ages.

Demolition Derby. The start of the Touring 2 race resembled just that on the first lap when one car spun triggering an eight car pileup, with one car going airborne after running over the top of the front of another. When the dust settled, five cars were done for the day, though some didn't admit it right away. Meanwhile, up front, Mark Sandridge took the win in a Pontiac Firebird, after his son, Jordan, who was in hot pursuit, dropped out.

When It Counts. Kent Prather has won four national championships, so when he and his MGA were never able to top the charts all week while Kevin Dennis and his Nissan 510 did, Prather knew what really mattered was what happens on race day. Dennis continued the strong week by leading the first five laps in front of the large 34 car field. Prather bided his time until an opening presented itself, which it did on the sixth lap at turn 11. Prather slid by, and never looked back, though Dennis stayed on his bumper the whole way, to take his fifth gold medal.

Choices. At the start of the second race of the day, the Showroom Stock C drivers had to decide which tires to use. The track was still damp from the early morning downpour, and with a small C Sports Racing field preceding it and not doing much to dry it out, plus the original threats of rain for most of the day, it was a tough decision to make. Mike Kramer made the right choice with his '97 Saturn SC2, running away with the race. This included having to negotiate lapped traffic, which was numerous in a starting field of 38 cars.

Fast Mistakes. The fastest race of the weekend, Formula Atlantic, and the fast C Sports Racer event, both saw the pole sitters lose their opportunity to win. In CSR on a damp track, Jacek Mucha spun off backwards on the second lap and tapped his rear wing on the tire wall. Despite the slight damage, he immediately resumed the fray, and retook the lead. However, the wing eventually failed, and he went off, winding up sixth. John Mirro took over the lead and the win in a Ralt. Keith Lively, the pole sitter for FA, also went off after leading the first lap, resumed the race, and made his way back to second, closing in on the lead. However, he pushed too hard, and went off again, this time a lot harder, ending his day. Rennie Clayton won in a Ralt RT-41.

Never In Doubt. The GT4 race was a runaway win for Keith Grant, leading from start to finish, accumulating nearly an eight second lead in his Nissan 200SX. The Formula Mazda race was also a flag to flag affair for Doug Peterson, though he did have a close pursuer. James Goughary, Jr. kept Peterson honest until Goughary went off on the 13th lap.

Try To Top Day One. The second day will be tough to pick up where the first day left off after that GT2 race, but one thing is for sure, anything can happen at the Runoffs.

T-Shirt of the Day. Sports Car Racing: Life Is Too Short To Be Running In Circles.

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Copyright © 2003 by Russell Jaslow and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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