RUNOFFS: slick tires adapt to slippery track for Ira FP’s victory
Tire selection was critical in the F Production (FP) race as changing track conditions continued to impact the SCCA National Championship playoffs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today.
The FP race started on a wet but quick-drying track, and the 39 riders on the pitch were given the choice of full rain tires, intermediates, hand grooved slicks or dry weather slicks. To complicate matters, light rain started to fall at the end of the race, tipping the scales towards the wet tires.
Cliff Ira of Kansas City, MO, has handled climate change better than anyone. Driving a Honda Del Sol, Ira bet on slicks, and he had the fastest car when it counted – in the middle part of the race.
He had taken a four-second advantage over Mason Workman – of Canal Winchester, OH – in a Mazda Miata when the warning flag flew after 15 of the 19 scheduled laps. With a 40-minute race time limit looming, the checkered flag was presented the next time around, with Ira taking the win over Workman and two-time FP national champion Kevin Ruck, who completed the podium in third.
Ruck started with wet tires and seemed comfortable for the first 10 laps. He maintained the lead thanks to two starts, but as he entered his 11th lap, Ira passed him in the pit straight.
A few corners later, Ruck lost second to Workman, who raced on hand-cut slicks but got away in the first lap and had plenty of ground to catch up. Workman’s eventful day also included contact with another car which caused the second of three warnings over the full course of the race. Workman managed to stay relatively close to Ira as the laps came to a close, but Ruck had lost nearly 15 seconds behind the leader when the final warning flew.
Ira’s first SCCA National Championship was held in the Super Touring Light at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in 2014.
“We’ve been on the grid before when it rains and we made the wrong decision,” said Ira. “I think we had the car to ride with them, and it worked. I love that a plan goes off without a hitch. It’s such an amazing feeling. Runoff is the ultimate. You go up to the top here, it’s just a feeling like no other, especially at Indy.
Ira called the wet-dry hybrid setup he used “a pure bet.” It was only the fifth race for Ira in the Del Sol that he made his debut on the Heartland Park road course this summer.
“It’s a choice you made at the very last minute, and this one turned out to be the right one,” Ira said. “I was on the other side of it when it didn’t work out.”
Workman had a career best result in the playoffs after twice before finishing third. “I had nothing for Cliff,” he admitted. “I was backing up into Turn 1 on the first lap, watching the whole field go past me on both sides. I just started picking them up and putting them down.
“We kind of did a ‘hero or zero’ on the tire decision, and it almost worked,” he added. “We arrived a bit short.”
Ruck got his fourth podium at the national championships, but he was visibly disappointed. “Coming here I would have been happy with a podium on a dry track,” he said. “I just made the wrong choice of tires. Kudos to Cliff because it must have been risky at the start of this race. He kept him on the trail. When I saw he was third after the first yellow, I knew we were broke.
Rick Harris of Topeka, KS, finished fourth in an Acura Integra, while Sam Henry took fifth after reaching second in the opening laps. The Sunoco Hard Charger Award went to Larry Gallagher, who moved from 25th place on the grid to 10th place at the finish.
Live and online video coverage of the Runoffs races, presented by Mazda, is available throughout the three days of competition at SCCA.com/live with an audio call of the race, provided by Super Tour radio presented by the Hoosier Racing Tire broadcast team, and live timing and scoring for each national championship race.
1, (2), Cliff Ira, Kansas City, MO, Honda Civic Del Sol VTEC, 16.
2, (5), Mason Workman, Canal Winchester, OH, Mazda Miata, 16.
3, (4), Kevin Ruck, Marysville, OH, Acura Integra, 16.
4, (13), Rick Harris, Topeka, KS, Acura Integra LS, 16.
5, (6), Sam Henry, Republic, MO, Mazda Miata, 16.
6, (16), Charlie Campbell, Corry, Pennsylvania, Mazda Miata, 16.
7, (3), Eric Prill, Topeka, KS, Mazda Miata, 16 years old.
8, (8), Chuck Mathis, St Jacob, Illinois, Volkswagen Rabbit, 16.
9, (7), Doug Weaver, Chatham, Ontario, Mazda Miata, 16 years old.
10, (25), Larry Gallagher, Thornville, Ohio, Acura Integra, 16.
11, (1), Craig Chima, Akron, OH, Lotus Super Seven, 16.
12, (11), Ken Kannard, Sebring, Florida, Mazda Miata, 16.
13, (14), Stephen Simonds, Rosharon, Texas, Mazda Miata, 16.
14 years old (21), Wade McBride, Azle, TX, Mazda Miata, 16 years old.
15, (17), Perry Simonds, Winnsboro, Texas, Mazda Miata, 16.
16, (19), Mark Weber, Saint-Louis, MO, Mazda Miata, 16.
17, (26), James Simaras, Lisbon, WI, Mazda Miata, 16.
18, (29), Steffen Clark, Salem, Virginia, Mazda Miata, 16.
19, 20, Mark McAllister, Webster, New York, Mazda Miata, 16.
20, (18), David Bednarz, Ann Arbor, MI, Mazda Miata, 16.
21, (22), Gerald Lamb, Oswego, IL, MG B, 16.
22, (31), David Colbey, Utica, NY, Acura Integra LS, 16.
23, (32), Ben Glowka, Greensboro, NC, Acura Integra, 16.
24, (33), Samuel Valenzuela, Fairview, Texas, Honda CRX Si, 16.
25, (34), Robert Keller, Algonquin, Illinois, Volvo P-1800, 16.
26, (28), Michael Hart, Mundelein, IL, Turner 1500, 16.
27, (37), Gregg Seigart, Bristol, Tennessee, Mazda Miata, 15.
28, (38), George (Spike) Behning, Vienna, Virginia, Mazda Miata, 15.
29, (23), Donald Ahrens, Waldo, Florida, Mazda Miata, 14.
30, (10), Bill Hingston, Parker, CO, Mazda Miata, 14.
DNF, (-), Chuck Brehm, Boerne, Texas, Triumph Spitfire, 6.
DNF, (24), Daniel Snow, Orange, CA, Fiat X-1/9, 5.
DNF, (27), Paul Jensen, Colorado Springs, CO, Mazda Miata, 4.
DNF, (9), Michael Kamalian, Marietta, Georgia, Mazda Miata, 0.
DNF, (35), Scott McAllister, Brockport, NY, Volkswagen Rabbit, 0.
DNS, (12), David Strittmatter, Akron, Ohio, Acura Integra, 0.
DNS, (15), Taz Harvey, Danville, CA, Mazda Miata, 0.
DNS, (30), Charles Guest, Greensboro, NC, Mazda Miata, 0.
DNS, (39), Ryan Brehm, Boerne, Texas, Triumph Spitfire, 0.
Race length: 41 miles (16 laps)
Total race time: 38: 37.991 (avg 64,409 mph)
Margin of victory: 3.095 seconds
Fastest race lap: # 36 Ira 1: 59.933 (77.803 mph)
Tour leaders: # 73 Ruck 1-10; # 36 Iraq 11-16
Sunoco hard charger: # 69 Gallagher