Matt Reynolds used patience to capture the SCCA Runoffs E Production crown on Friday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. (Shawn Lumley Photo)
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Carrying a lesson learned at the 2013 SCCA Runoffs, Matt Reynolds used patience and the poise of a veteran to capture the E Production National Championship on Friday during the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Joe Moser and Greg Ira completed the podium.
Reynolds drove his No. 71 Reynolds Bros Racing/Vintage Conn/Jesse Prather Motorsports Mazda Miata to a 1.091-second win with a last lap pass on Moser, averaging 84.038 mph for the 23-lap race. Reynolds also completed the SCCA Super Sweep with the win, winning a U.S. Majors Tour Conference title, a national points title, a select regular season race win, and now the Runoffs championship.
Reynolds’ path to the lead started on the opening circuit, when the No. 62 HPD/Hoosier/Summit/Carbotech Honda S2000 of former Runoffs champion and accomplished pro racer Michael Galati tangled with Ira’s No. 2 Z Trix/FUTOFAB Datsun 260Z through the Esses. Galati fell a lap down, and Ira rejoined the race while Moser set sail.
“It was pretty rough from the start,” Reynolds said. “I saw Greg and Galati get into it a little bit, so I immediately got into second. Aaron Downey was clicking off some good laps behind me, meanwhile Moser was getting away. I just tried to keep clean and consistent, and I was really catching Joe in the braking zones.”
Moser, already in front after passing Galati at the start, used the clean air to power his No. 63 Hoosier/King Motorsports/Honda Honda Prelude to a gap. But with five laps to go, Reynolds had closed to the front.
The orange Honda Prelude kept Reynolds just behind, using the power down the straights, but Reynolds finally found an opportunity after the white flag through Turn Six.
“The last lap, we’re going into six and seven,” Reynolds said. “He was a little slow in six, and I was able to do a little over/under and get on the right side of him to set me up on the inside of eight and nine. There was a little bit of contact, but we were wheel to wheel and I was happy to come away with it. It was great.”
While it was great for Reynolds, it was less so for Moser, who saw his shot at a first National Championship evaporate with a mile to go.
“I wasn’t able to hold on. It sounds like there was a little attrition on the track, and I got relocated over to the outside. I’ll have to take a look at the film.
“But it was great. It held together great for the first three quarters, and then the front tire started to go down a little bit. So it became a game of preservation at that point. Naturally, I’m a little upset, but silver is great. I’m happy to be here, it’s a beautiful site.”
Ira recovered from the early contact for his seventh career podium finish.
“I had a good run on him coming out of the keyhole, and he left a huge inside lane there for me so I drove it down there,” Ira said. “My brakes have been awesome all week for the first time in a real long time. I had a clean pass and he had plenty of room not to drive out to the outside once we came around to the outside. He just drilled me in the back, and we were connected somehow. I don’t think he let off. He came down from being in the air and just drove me to the wall in Turn Eight. I thought it was a good, clean pass.
“I don’t have a ton of miles racing at this place, but I’m surprised our car is so fast. I expected to be maybe top five, and really have to thank Goodyear for that.”
Reynolds, now a two-time National Champion, had a run that reminded some of a Runoffs appearance at Road America. Reynolds closed to the back of Ira late in the race and crossed the finish line in front, but was later moved back following contact with Ira’s Datsun.
“I wasn’t thinking about that particular time in the car. That was in the past. But definitely when I saw an opportunity and he was slow coming out of six and I was able to get alongside of him, I thought, here’s my chance. Mid-Ohio is a tough track to pass at, so for me to get along the inside of him, side by side, I’m sure it was fun to watch. You learn from your mistakes, I made more than just that one in that race, but you learn and move on.”
Jason Albright’s No. 77 Design Fuel Graphics Mazda RX-7 climbed to fourth from his 10th spot on the grid. Steve Smyczek drove his No. 17 Slip Shield Mazda RX-7 from even further back, starting 13th and finished fifth.
Galati recovered to climb all the way back to seventh, turning the fastest lap of the race in 1:34.266 (86.233 mph) despite having no front fender.