Drissi scores second consecutive Trans Am West win with Auto Club victory
April 30, 2017
Joe Napoleon secures career first TA2 win, Brinkop and Dreier win in TA3, TA4
FONTANA, Calif. [April 30, 2017] – Tomy Drissi secured his second consecutive win in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s West Coast Championship with a victory at Auto Club Speedway, prevailing after a vigorous back-and-forth battle with Kyle Kelley in the TA class. In TA2, Joe Napoleon secured a come-from-behind victory for his first career win while Bill Brinkop and Guy Dreier secured wins in Trans Am’s production classes, TA3 and TA4.
Drissi, in the No. 8 Arthritis Foundation Chevrolet Corvette, started the race in second position behind pole-sitter Greg Pickett, in the No. 66 Pickett Racing Ford Mustang, and quickly overtook Pickett for the lead into turn one only to be passed by Kyle Kelley, in the No. 3 Biologic Infusion Pharmacy / Torco Chevrolet Corvette, for the lead on the same turn. Drissi and Kelley would then settle into a race-long back and forth battle for the lead with Drissi taking the lead on lap 26 with Kelley in pursuit, only to have the fight cut short as the No. 3 suffered a blown motor on lap 28—leaving Drissi to finish the final laps in relative comfort eneroute to victory.
“I knew Kyle was going to come fast,” said Drissi. “He has oval experience; so he drove it like a NASCAR boy out there and got us on the start. We started pacing each other, but it was hard to decide if the tires were going to stay the same and to not beat them up or to really get in there. All of a sudden I started to catch him a little bit and I passed him, but he was right in my mirror. I put my head down, did a lap or two, thought I should have a little breathing room, but he was still right there. He’s a monster; we changed positions a few times after that too. I hated to see him fall back—something happened to the car, because I think we would have done that the whole 100-plus miles.”
The win was Drissi’s fifth of his Trans Am career and continues his red hot start to the West Coast championship, following up on his Willow Springs win. For his final pass over Kelley, Drissi was awarded the COOLSHIRT Systems Cool Move of the race; and despite the strong performance, Drissi thinks there is still more left in the car— and he is eager to find it before his next appearance in the full Trans Am championship at Road Atlanta in two weeks.
“We’re still a little frustrated by the setup,” said Drissi. “We think we can be faster, and we know we need to be faster. No one stands still in racing; if you stand still, you’re going backwards. I think we’re still a little bit behind figuring out the setup for these tires; there’s still more in us. I hope we can show that at Atlanta coming up and give all those guys and girls everything we got.”
Gregg Pickett would finish second in the TA class while Richard Wall, in the No. 7 Welded Fixtures Chevrolet Corvette, would finish third for his second consecutive podium finish.
In TA2, Joe Napoleon, in the No. 91 Turnkey Industries Chevrolet Camaro, emerged victorious in what could only be described as a survivor’s race—taking advantage of a long run setup and a touch of misfortune on the part of his fellow competitors and teammates. The win is the first of Napoleon’s Trans Am career and first podium appearance.
“It was a great result for us,” said Napoleon. “We really prioritized tire management for this race which hurt us a bit at first, but it really paid off in the long haul. We ran into a lot of wind and grit this weekend, and we kinda had the wind in our favor this afternoon but the heat was against us. We made a couple changes in the suspension to deal with the heat issues that really paid off, and the crew did a great job making the calls. TA2 is probably the most competitive series out there; you’ve got a lot of really great drivers out there who really know how to drive on the edge and what better way to challenge yourself and step up your own program than racing against the best?”
Napoleon began the race in third position before dropping back to fourth, but continuously clawed his way up through the field with his No. 91 hitting its stride as other competitors struggled. Class pole-sitter and teammate Shane Lewis, in the No. 92 Turnkey Industries Chevrolet Camaro, experienced a broken rear trailing arm after leading the first 15-laps comfortably and was forced into the pits.
Justin Napoleon, son of Joe and driver of the No. 90 Turnkey Industries Chevrolet Camaro, led laps 16 through 27 before experiencing overheating with debris on the radiator. Willow Springs victor Brad McAllister, in the No. 24 PortlandImplant Dentistry Ford Mustang, held the lead from laps 28 through 30 only to slow with Joe Napoleon taking the lead with only six laps remaining.
McAllister would hold on to finish second in TA2 while Shane Lewis, repaired and back on track, would finish third.
In TA3, Bill Brinkop, in the No. 78 TCDesign/Synergy Motorsport/ Essex Chevrolet Corvette, secured his first Trans Am win in his series debut with a degree of comfort over second place finisher Oli Thordarson, in the No. 22 Alvaka Networks/ TrackSpec Chevrolet Corvette. Brinkop began the race on pole for TA3 and led every lap for the class, even mixing in with the TA2 field for stages of the race.
Guy Dreier, in the No. 13 Guy Dreier Designs Maserati Gran Turismo GT4, was the sole competitor in the TA4 field and finished 8th overall in the 12 car field—collecting vital points towards the West Coast championship.
The Trans Am race was held on Auto Club Speedway’s 2.8-mile sports car course and consisted of 36 laps for a total of 100.8-miles. Fast laps were set by Kyle Kelly in TA with a 1:36.628, Shane Lewis in TA2 with a 1:42.294, William Brinkop in TA3 with a 1:43.003 and Guy Drier in TA4 with a 1:47.043.
The Trans Am West Coast Championship presented by Pirelli will return for Round 3 at Portland International Raceway on July 30th. The Trans Am Championship presented by Pirelli will be back in action for Round 3 at Road Atlanta on May 13th.
The Trans Am West Coast Championship presented by Pirelli is an independent four race points championship from the Trans Am Championship presented by Pirelli which primarily tours the East, Midwest and South of the United States.
Fans can keep up with the event and all of The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli at www.gotransam.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gotransam and on Twitter at @gotransam.
All results provisional until posted final.
About Trans Am:
The Trans Am Series, presented by Pirelli, began igniting the passion of motorsports fans across the world in 1966 and has been home to some of the greatest names in road racing. Today, Trans Am continues to honor its legacy, while challenging the status quo in racing, through meaningful racing platforms and a driver-oriented focus. The Trans Am Series is operated by The Trans Am Race Company, LLC (TARC), and oversees the management and marketing of the Trans Am Series, presented by Pirelli. SCCA Pro Racing sanctions Trans Am events and provides operations services to the Series.
Defending Champions include: Amy Ruman (TA), Tony Buffomante (TA2), Randy Mueller (TA3) and Ernie Francis, Jr. (TA4).
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