30 OCTOBER 2017 scca.com
n Sept. 29, the Runoffs races
kick off with Touring 1, and this
won’t likely disappoint. Our
go-to pick for T1 is once again Andrew
Aquilante. In 2016, Aquilante didn’t
have his new Mustang ready, opting
instead to jump into one of the
Phoenix Corvettes. Aquilante qualified
second, and kept eventual winner
Ross Murray honest up until the
engine in his C7 expired.
With more time in the shop to prep
the Mustang, and the factory built
racecars like the Viper Competition
Coupe no longer in T1, it’s hard to pick
anyone other than Aquilante to win T1.
“I’m never really committed to a car,
especially two months out from the
race, but I’d say it’s a 98-percent chance
it will be a Mustang,” says Aquilante.
“I was building the car for last year
and it missed the bell, so at least I’m
not in a scramble to build something.”
The other thing going in Aquilante’s
favor is track knowledge; a commodity
that very few have as the Runoffs visits
Indianapolis for the first time. “I’ve run
all the pieces of the Runoffs layout,”
says Aquilante. “I feel it will be very
hard to pass cleanly, so getting out of
Turn 1 in the lead, and not being taken
1. Andrew Aquilante
2. Marc Hoover
3. Mark Boden
1. Kurt Rezzetano
2. John Buttermore
3. Michael Lavigne
1. Ali Salih
2. Marshall Mast
3. Derek Kulach
1. Oscar Jackson Jr.
2. Darren Seltzer
3. Don Knowles
out by a hero coming from five rows
back will be very important.”
The rest of the podium is a bit harder
to predict, as so many will be battling for
those two steps. We have seen Marc
Hoover make big strides with his
turbocharged Mazda Miata and, if he can
keep it running, it could be his year to
return to the podium. Mark Boden is also
a safe pick, having already recorded a
Trans Am TA3 win at the Brickyard.
Closing out Friday will be the
Touring 3 race, which is slated to
share the track with B-Spec, making
traffic management an essential skill.
This class has been in a bit of flux all
season, and it’s hard to predict which
car/driver combo has the right stuff.
The BMWs look strong, and we think
Ali Salih is at the pointy end of that
group, but traffic could be an issue for
him. “Spec E46-based T3 cars have a
good qualifying pace,” says Salih.
“When the track ahead is clear we can
put a decent time on the board.
However, I have major doubts of the
performance in traffic or in a
wheel-to-wheel racing situation.”
We expect Marshall Mast, and Derek
Kulach to round out the podium, but
there are also some wild cards to
watch like Todd Lamb who has already
raced there in his Global MX- 5 Cup car.
On Sept. 30, we will see Touring 2
take to the track, and we expect to see
Kurt Rezzetano out front again. “So far,
to win races this year, I have had to take
chances and run 110-percent every lap
to win,” says Rezzetano. “At Indy, it’s
going to be more of the same.”
Look for Corvette driver John
Buttermore – who, had it not been for
a brake problem, might have pulled
off the upset at Mid-Ohio in 2016 – to
be hot on Rezzetano’s heels.
We think Michael Lavigne will back
up his 2016 finish, but he will have a
lot of guys to hold off in the process.
As the calendar turns to Oct 1, we
will see Touring 4 take to the track, and
it’s unlikely that anyone will challenge
2016 standout Oscar Jackson Jr. as
he takes aim to defend his title. “I try to
not get caught up in the results
throughout the year, because the front
runners change once we get to the big
show,” says Jackson. “I know the East
Coast boys bring their best, and I look
forward to the challenge.”
Chasing after Jackson will be
Darren Seltzer, Don Knowles, and a
gaggle of MX- 5 drivers.
WHO WILL WIN?
Touring 1, Touring 2, Touring 3, Touring 4
WORDS Jason Isley | MAIN IMAGE Mark Weber
THE GRAND TOUR
(LEFT) Look for Andrew Aquilante to take T1.
(BELOW from top to bottom) Kurt Rezzetano
has a lock on T2. Ali Salih looks strong in T3.
No one will be close to Oscar Jackson Jr. in T4.