Tony Ave Racing and Paul Fix Stay in Trans Am Title Fight with Second-Place Finish in New Orleans
October 13, 2015
Last-Minute Sub Tony Ave Helps Keeps Ave Motorsports and Tony Ave Racing on Pace All Weekend at NOLA Motorsports Park; Top-10 TA2 Finish for Joe Napoleon
AVONDALE, Louisiana (October 12, 2015) - A last-minute TA-class substitute drive by Tony Ave helped keep Ave Motorsports and his Tony Ave Racing team and drivers in the Trans Am title chase this past weekend at NOLA Motorsports Park where team-driver and championship-contender Paul Fix won the TA pole and finished second in Sunday's race.
Fix and his Tony Ave Racing No. 4 StopFlex.com/ TheCarCoach.com AR-1 Corvette were the TA team to beat all weekend at NOLA. Leading Sunday's race from the pole, Fix was up front less than 10 laps from the finish only to be run off track by a lapped competitor.
"Paul did an unbelievable job in recovering," Ave said. "The grill was covered with grass and he cleverly got it cleaned off without coming down the pit lane. It was really his weekend, he just got run off by a lapped car, which unfortunately happens."
Fix rebounded to finish second to race winner and TA-class championship leader Amy Ruman. While finishing ahead of Ruman was a primary goal of the NOLA weekend, Fix is still well within reach of the championship. He came to NOLA just 14 points out of first place and didn't lose any ground to Ruman after picking up some critical pole and lap leader bonus points. Fix now has 270 points, still only 14 behind Ruman's 284 points, with only races at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) and Daytona International Speedway remaining on this year's schedule.
While Ruman is always a threat, the strongest competitor Fix had all weekend was Ave himself. Not even scheduled to race at NOLA while his regular TA2-class No. 70 Lamers Motor Racing Mustang was going through some off-track R&D, Ave ended up being a last-minute substitute for Tony Ave Racing's other top TA driver, Doug Peterson.
"Basically, it just worked out," Ave said. "Doug cut his thumb really bad at the hotel on a broken glass Thursday morning," Ave said. "He damaged a nerve a bit and the doctor suggested not using it for three days or so. He decided that since he is out of the points race, and I wasn't driving anything else, that we would take the opportunity to try and develop the Cadillac a bit since we haven't tested as much as we would like."
Ave's unexpected run in Peterson's Tony Ave Racing No. 87 3Dimensional.com AR-1 Cadillac CTS-V, however, turned out to be much more than a regimented R&D test. He was immediately on pace, qualified second to Fix for an all Ave Motorsports/TAR front row and topped all of the weekend practice sessions. Even a race-day tire switch that moved him to the back of the starting grid didn't keep Ave from challenging for the podium.
"We had some issues with our qualifying tires," Ave said. "I scuffed a set in the warmup and we turned the fastest lap of the weekend despite having a full tank of fuel. So, we decided to run those tires and start in the back. I got up to second easily, and was riding behind Paul waiting for the 10-laps-to-go point or so when we had an electrical problem that started to slow us down. I let Amy back by and was thinking we would nurse it home in third when I saw Paul get run off the road by a lapped car and drop way back. By this time, my misfire was more gone than not and I had run Amy back down."
Ave was just about to attempt a pass for the lead on Ruman when a yellow flag was displayed that ultimately saw the race end under caution. The yellow took away any shot Ave had to give the Cadillac its first Trans Am win but also gave him the opportunity to show a nice gesture of sportsmanship that resulted in a seventh-place finish.
"I was going for the lead when the final caution came out," said Ave, a two-time Trans Am TA Champion. "But once I knew we weren't going back to green, I drove through the pits so as not to take any points away from the fulltime competitors."
Tony Ave Racing's strong TA-class performance at NOLA was backed up by a solid showing from the team's TA2 entries. The family team of Joe Napoleon and his son, Justin Napoleon, earned their best results since the first half of the season.
The Napoleons race in identical TurnKey Industries/CommState Bank TA2-class Camaros, and Joe Napoleon drove his No. 91 version to a 10th-place finish, his first top-10 showing since Round 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in April.
It was the first top-10 finish for either Napoleon since Justin finished 10th at New Jersey Motorsports Park in June. The younger Napoleon also had a strong performance at NOLA, finishing 12th in his No. 90 Camaro following a thrash rebound before the race after being run off course during warmup.
"The Napoleons did great this weekend, despite Justin having a scary off in the warmup when a TA car ran him on the grass at the fastest part of the circuit," Ave said. "They got everything patched up, those guys really ran strong, and they have tested at COTA so we're looking at even better results there."
Jim McAleese, the only TA driver other than Fix or Ruman to win a race this year, continued his recent run of success with a fourth-place finish at NOLA. McAleese uses an Ave Motorsports AR-1 chassis on his No. 03 McAleese & Associates/Jetco Engineering Corvette. Richard Grant was also in action at COTA in his similar Ave Motorsports AR-1 No. 8 Grant Racing Corvette and placed eighth in the TA class.
The 2015 Trans Am season concludes with back-to-back races at COTA and Daytona in the first two weekends of November.
"Paul has had great success in vintage TA cars at COTA and we have done well in the past at Daytona, so we are ready for the next rounds," Ave said.
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