ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Three-times a bridesmaid, Greg Ira is now a Sports Car Club of America National Champion after on-track E Production race winner Matt Reynolds was penalized for last-lap contact in a battle for the lead at the 50th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America.
Ira led in his No. 2 GlenMartin Nissan 260-Z as the field received the one-to-go signal. Recovering from an early-race spin in his No. 71 Reynolds Brothers Racing/Jesse Prather Mazda Miata, Reynolds ran Ira down, but made contact with the Nissan in Turn Eight, allowing the Mazda through and into the lead. On the track, Reynolds finished 0.173-second ahead of Ira.
Following the race, the SCCA Stewards of the Meet determined that Reynolds was in violation of General Competition Rules (GCR) sections 6.11.1.A, B, C and D relating to On Course Driver Conduct. He was moved back a total of three positions (one for the last-lap incident and two for an earlier incident), making the revised top three finishers Ira, Aaron Downey and Chris Dryden.
The race got off to an adventurous start, as two early leaders slid off course. Reynolds was battling with Jim Daniels on the third lap and took the lead when Daniels’ No. 76 TheRacingInsiders.com Mazda Miata slid off the track near the Kink. Moments later, Reynolds spun in Canada Corner on his own, and waited to rejoin the field as several cars passed him.
SafeRacer Polesitter Downey then took the point in his No. 5 roundpeg.com/Mazdaspeed Motorsports Mazda RX-3, but it was short-lived, as Ira was soon into the lead.
Having fallen back to 14th, Reynolds was on a tear through the field, setting the Hawk Performance Hot Lap of the Race with a time of 2:28.274 (97.117 mph) on lap six. He was back up to second place on lap 11, passing Downey for the position.
“The level of aggressiveness that some people have is different,” Ira said. “That might fly in another class, but a bump-and-run, for whatever the reason is, isn’t a good way to win if you ask me.
“These old cars we’re in, we really have to wheel them,” Ira added. “Winning with one of our older cars is difficult. But I was never comfortable. My head was always down, and I was always trying to click and hit my marks the best I could, for the exact reason that happened at the end. I told myself I was going to raise my aggressive level today because of our need to win so badly.”
“It was two very competitive drivers and two good drivers going for the same spot,” Reynolds said immediately following the race. “I chose my line, which was underneath, and there was just a little contact. It was a racing incident, and I did apologize to Greg.”
In the revised results, Ira’s margin of victory was 8.362 seconds, averaging 90.441 mph.
Downey bounced around the top five, and led lap three in the No. 5 roundpeg.com/Mazdaspeed Motorsports Mazda RX-3. In the end, he was only 0.201-second ahead of Dryden the new third-place finisher in the No. 02 PayPal/Carbotech BMW Z3.
“We were just off on the setup,” said Downey, the recipient of the GoPro Move of the Race after drifting through the Carousel early in the race. “I never lost sight of the leaders. Yes, I did lead a couple times during the race, but I never felt like I had a winning car.”
Reynolds was placed fourth in the final results, one position ahead of Jesse Prather, of Topeka, Kan., who drove the No. 34 Jesse Prather Motorsports/Mazdaspeed/Hoosier Mazda MX-5.