10 Champions Crowned During SCCA Runoffs

Jeff Dernehl claimed the GT-3 championship during the SCCA National Championship Runoffs on Friday at Virginia Int'l Raceway. (Jay Bonvouloir Photo)
Jeff Dernehl claimed the GT-3 championship during the SCCA National Championship Runoffs on Friday at Virginia Int’l Raceway. (Jay Bonvouloir Photo)

ALTON, Va. – Ten drivers collected championships during the first day of racing for the SCCA National Championship Runoffs on Friday at Virginia Int’l Raceway.

Nick Leverone, of Mednon, Mass., opened the 56th SCCA National Championship Runoffs by winning the Touring 4 class race over Tyler Quance and Stephen Blethen.

Leverone started second and chased defending class champion John Heinricy before the two went side-by-side on lap 10 for the lead. Leverone took the lead in turn 14 and led the remainder of the 15-lap distance.

Van Steenburg, from New Smyrna, Fla., captured his second E Production championship after holding off John Hainsworth and Jesse Prather.

Prather jumped to a lead at the start, but his advantage was cut down when Greg Amy spun his fire-engulfed No. 33 Honda Civic to a stop in turn one to bring out the caution.

During the restart Van Steenburg briefly took the lead, but missed a shift at the exit of turn one, giving the lead back to Prather. Prather didn’t stay in the lead for long after sliding off the track in turn 10, handing the lead and eventually the win back to Steenburg.

In Protoype 1, pole sitter Todd Slusher took the lead on the start and drove away from runner-up and teammate Chip Romer to take the class victory by roughly 13 seconds.

The Spec Racer Ford Gen3 race saw a three-wide finish at the checkered flag, with Roberson Clay Russell edging Denny Stripling and Brian Schofield to take the SCCA National Championship Runoffs victory. The podium finishers were separated by .127 seconds.

In arguably the most competitive class at the 56th SCCA National Championship Runoffs with the second-largest field size of any class made up of 54 qualifiers from all around the country, the Spec Racer Ford Gen3 (SRF3) national championship was decided by 17 thousandths of a second with a three-wide battle to the checkered at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) on Friday.

When the dust settled Roberson Clay Russell, of Spartanburg, North Carolina, held on to take the checkered over Denny Stripling, of McKinney, Texas, in second. Brian Schofield, of Lakeland, Florida, finished in a close third. The podium finishers were only separated by .127-second.

Clint McMahan drove away from the field in the Formula 500 class after starting from the pole, easily claiming the second Runoffs championship of his career by more than 30 seconds.

Danny Steyn spun during the Super Touring Lite class race, but still managed to lead every lap to win his second-straight championship in the division. Steyn had already built a gap on the field at the time of his spin, allowing him to quickly recover and return to the track.

The American Sedan class belonged to Gregory Eaton, who claimed a flag-to-flag victory in the 15-lap race to earn his first Runoffs championship.

Jeff Dernehl outlasted the GT-3 field to earn his first victory in SCCA National Championship Runoffs competition. The race was chaotic, with Dernehl actually spinning at one point to drop him to third.

However, bad luck by race leaders Tony Ave and Joe Kristensen that saw both men suffer engine failures in their race cars elevated Dernehl to the lead and eventually the victory.

Rhett Barkau claimed top honors in Formula Enterprises 2, surviving a battle with Liam Snyder on the last lap that saw Barkau take the lead from Snyder in the final corners.

To close out the day, James Libecco topped the Formula Enterprise finale via a photo finish over Mark Snyder. The duo crossed the finish line in a dead heat, with the scoring monitor showing the margin of victory to be .000 in favor of Libecco.

The SCCA National Championship Runoffs continue on Saturday at Virginia Int’l Raceway.