ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Craig Chima inherited the lead and held on to win Friday’s F Production race during the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America.
Ethan Shippert started from the pole in his Lotus Super Seven alongside Kevin Ruck, who piloted an Acura Integra. Ruck jump to the lead on the opening lap, only for Shippert to get the lead back on lap two. Ruck would regain the top spot when Shipprt goasted off into the grass shortly thereafter, ending his race.
Ruck looked strong and developed a lead of nearly six seconds on the No. 05 Lotus Super Seven ofChima. But on lap six, a full-course yellow eliminated that advantage and bunched the field back up.
At the restart a few laps later, Chima put a little pressure on the leader, but Ruck confidently held the top spot and again started to develop a gap. Lap 11 brought the end of Ruck’s race with a blown motor and Chima inherited the lead, a lead he never relinquished as he went on to earn his third Runoffs victory.
“This is unbelievable. There are no words. I’m probably the most shocked person in the world right now,” Chima said about claiming the F Production championship this year. “Frankly, I spent the race looking in my mirrors more than I was looking up at Kevin (Ruck). Kevin just sort of checked out. I had nothing for him.”
Behind Chima, an exciting and attrition-filled battle waged on for the final two spots on the podium. A host of characters driving Mazda Miatas took part in the battle, with defending F Production champion Eric Prill in the mix for a bit until he left the race, Ken Kannard in the hunt up to the point where he pulled on to pit lane, David Bednarz who left the race after a spin in the Kink, and even Michael Hart in an older Turner 1500 racecar.
As the race neared its conclusion, the Sam Henry was left fighting for second place with Mason Workman. The two diced it up a bit, displaying tremendous skill during close-quarter competition. When the checkered flag waived, Henry, finished second and earned his third Runoffs podium appearance.
“Had a good battle with Mason there right at the end, going back and forth,” Henry said. “I had kind of a soft start and I was really kind of beating myself up. So, I really had my head down those first few laps. I was starting to catch back up to the pack. I knew if I could get in the draft that race craft and strategy would come back into it for me.”
Workman came home third for his second podium appearance at the SCCA National Championship.
“That was a fun race. It was just about taking advantage of little mistakes that people made and try not to make too many of your own,” Workman said. “But 90 percent of the time, I was 100 percent out of control and everybody just avoided me.”