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SCCA Runoffs 2009 Review

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The 2009 SCCA National Championship Runoffs classic was the first edition of the event held on the Road America circuit.  The Runoffs were first held in 1964 on the Riverside road course in California.  The 1965 edition was held on the Daytona road course.  The Runoffs alternated between Riverside (1966, 1968) and Daytona (1967, 1969) through 1969.  The classic moved to Road Atlanta in 1970 and was contested at the Braselton, Georgia venue through 1993.  In 1994 the Runoffs moved to Mid-Ohio and were held there through 2005.  The 2006 through 2008 Runoffs were contested on the Heartland Park course in Topeka, Kansas.  Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin in 2009 became the sixth venue for the Runoffs.

The 2009 Runoffs results produced an edge in the number of first-time Runoffs victors – fourteen (14) over winners with previous Runoffs victories – eleven (11).  The fourteen first-time Runoffs victors were (in alphabetical order): Mark Boden (GT2), Bob Boileau (T3), Ric Bushey (GT3), Mark Carpenter (F Production), Garry Crook (D Sports/Racing), Nick Evans (Formula Enterprise), Steven Gorriaran (Spec Miata), Samuel Halkias (E Production), Juan Marchand (Formula Mazda), Dan Meller (H Production), Matt Miller (C Sports/Racing), Tom Sloe (American Sedan), Scott Tucker (T1), and Michael Varacins (Formula Vee).

Six 2009 Runoffs winners achieved their second Runoffs victory with their 2009 win.  Cliff Ebben, the GT1 victor, also won GT1 in 2003 at Mid-Ohio.  Toby Grahovec, the SSB winner, also won SSB in 2005 at Mid-Ohio.  Jason Knuteson, the Formula 500 winner, also won the class in 2008 at Heartland Park.  Sports 2000 winner Mark Mercer also won the class in 2006 at Heartland Park.  Formula Ford victor Scott Rubenzer won the Formula Vee class at Road Atlanta in 1985.  Mirl Swan, the Formula Atlantic winner, also won Formula Atlantic at Heartland Park in 2006.

2009 SSC victor Joel Lipperini increased his Runoffs win total to three; he also won SSC at Mid-Ohio in 2002 and 2004.  Nicholas A. “Niki” Coello ran his Runoffs victory total to four with his 2009 Formula Continental win; he also won the class in 2005 at Mid-Ohio and in 2006 and 2008 at Heartland Park.  Michael Miserendino has now won the Spec Racer Ford class four consecutive times: 2006, 2007, and 2008 at Heartland Park and 2009 at Road America.  Jim Dentici now has five wins in three classes on three venues!  Dentici won GT4 at Road Atlanta in 1981, took the GT3 victory at Road Atlanta in 1989, won GT3 again at Road Atlanta in 1993, was triumphant in GT Lite in 2006 at Heartland Park, and won GT Lite again in 2009, this time at Road America.  Don Knowles’ 2009 Runoffs win also increased his career Runoffs victory total to five.  Don won SSB at Road Atlanta in 1978 and 1979, won SSB at Heartland Park in 2006, and then won T2 at Heartland Park in 2007 and T2 at Road America in 2009,

Three drivers now have current win streaks in the SCCA Runoffs.  Michael Miserendino has four consecutive Spec Racer Ford class triumphs: 2006, 2007, and 2008 at Heartland Park and 2009 at Road America.  Niki Coello has two consecutive Formula Continental victories: 2008 at Heartland Park and 2009 at Road America. Jason Knuteson has won Formula 500 two consecutive years (2008 Heartland Park, 2009 Road America.

Don Knowles set a new Runoffs record for years between first and most recent victories; Knowles scored his first Runoffs win in 1978 in SSB at Road Atlanta and now after 30 intervening years he has won again!  This broke the record set by Dave Weitzenhof’s 25 year interval between his 1972 Formula Vee win at Road Atlanta and his 1998 Formula Continental victory at Mid-Ohio.  Jim Dentici then won GT Lite at Road America and moved into second ranking on the list with a 27 year interval as his first Runoffs victory came in 1981 at Road Atlanta in GT4!  Dan Carmichael ranks fourth on the list with a twenty-four year interval between his first win in 1969 at Daytona in C Sports/Racing and his final win in 1995 at Mid-Ohio in Formula Atlantic.  With his 2009 Road America Formula Ford victory, Scott Rubenzer moved into fifth on the list with a twenty-three year interval as his first Runoffs win came in 1985 at Road Atlanta in Formula Vee.  Doug Peterson (first win 1982, most recent win 2004) and Thomas Schwietz (first win 1984, most recent win 2006) are next on the list with 21-year intervals, and Randy Canfield’s twenty-year interval (first win 1969, last win 1990) completes the list of those with twenty-year or greater win intervals.

Scott Rubenzer’s 2009 Road America Formula Ford win was his second in the Runoffs; his first came in 1985 in Formula Vee at Road Atlanta.  This twenty-three year interval between his first and second wins set a new Runoffs record for the interval between a driver’s first and second wins!

The twenty-five (25) 2009 Runoffs races at Road America produced two sub-one second victory margins, five under two seconds, eight under three seconds, and eleven under five seconds.  The closest margin was the 0.128 second margin in C Sports/Racing.  The Spec Racer Ford margin was next at 0.67 second.  Ranking third, and the closest among the production-based classes, was the SSB margin of 1.357 seconds.  The largest victory margin came in H Production: 39.02 seconds.  The average victory margin was 9.28476 seconds.

The Spec Racer Ford race produced the most lead-lap finishers: 32.  Spec Miata had twenty-nine, Formula Vee twenty-four.  Twenty-one races had ten or more lead-lap finishers.  H Production produced the fewest lead-lap finishers, six.  C Sports Racing had seven, T3 eight, American Sedan nine.  The average number of lead-lap finishers per race was 13.64.

Ten races (40%) were won by the polesitter.  Six were won from second starting position, thus 64.0% of the winners came from the front row.  Two winners started from fourth, two from fifth, and one from sixth.  Three winners started from tenth: Garry Crook in D Sports/Racing, Sam Halkias in E Production, and Mirl Swan in Formula Atlantic.  The lowest starting position for a 2009 Runoffs winner, sixteenth, came in the Formula 500 race won by Jason Knuteson.  The average starting position for a 2009 Runoffs racewinner was 3.68.

Twelve racewinners led every lap of the race although one of them, Andy McDermid in American Sedan, was disqualified.  The lead changed hands on the final lap in two races: Scott Rubenzer’s Formula Ford victory, as the only lap Rubenzer led was the thirteenth and final lap, and Mike Miserendino’s Spec Racer Ford victory, where Miserendino led only the final lap after Brian Schofield led the first twelve laps.  Twelve races had only one leader.  Eleven races had two leading drivers.  Two races had three leading drivers.  Twelve races had no lead changes.  Ten races produced one lead change.  Two races produced two lead changes (E Production and T2).  One race, Formula Ford, produced four lead changes.  The average 2009 Runoffs race had 1.6 leaders and 0.72 lead changes.

In the thirteen production-based classes (American Sedan, E Production, F Production, GT1, GT2, GT3, GT Lite, H Production, SSB, SSC, T1, T2, T3), Honda achieved three victories, two with CRX models (GT Lite and HP) and one with an S2000 (T3).  Acura scored two wins with Integras (FP and SSC).  Ford won American Sedan and GT1 with Mustangs.  BMW won SSB with a Z4, Ferrari won T1 with a Ferrari 430 Challenge, Nissan won GT3 with a 350Z, Pontiac won T2 with a Solstice GXP, Porsche won GT2 with a 996 GT3 Cup model, and Triumph won EP with a TR6.

Among the regions, the most wins were posted by the Milwaukee region with five, followed by Chicago with three, and Ohio Valley with two.  Fifteen other regions each scored one victory as eighteen regions shared the victory pie!

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