Francis, Jr., paces field in final practice
September 23, 2017
Randy Kinsland edges Lux in TA3, Kleeman over Napieralski in TA4
ALTON, VA. [September 23, 2017] – Ernie Francis, Jr., led the way as the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s TA, TA3 and TA4 class competitors made their final preparations in advance of this afternoon’s qualifying sessions on the 3.27-mile course at Virginia International Raceway. Francis would top the charts with a blistering 1:46.253 lap, while a returning Randy Kinsland and Brian Kleeman set the fast lap in their respective classes, TA3 and TA4, by slim margins.
Francis, in the No. 98 Buoniconti Fund Ford Mustang, would turn his fast time on his eighth and final lap of the session, the 1:46.253 well underneath the existing qualifying track record time of 1:46.915 set by Paul Fix in 2016. Francis enters the round atop the championship points standings in this, his debut year in the TA class, after three consecutive championships in TA4. During his time in the TA4 class Francis also logged three consecutive wins at VIR, a trend he will doubtlessly look to continue into TA come tomorrow’s race.
Francis was followed in the session by the man directly behind him in the points, Vinnie Allegretta, driver of the No. 41 TA Sights & Sounds Chevrolet Corvette. Allegretta would turn his fast lap early in the session on his second lap, a 1:47.205, before being contacted and returning to the paddock to assess damage and make repairs before qualifying.
Paul Fix, making his return to Trans Am after a successful year racing prototypes, was third quick in the session, turning a 1:48.450 lap. Fix stands the three time victor at VIR and has topped the charts in the past two Trans Am qualifying sessions.
Shane Lewis in the No. 6 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, a full time TA2 competitor and a last minute addition filling in for Cameron Lawrence, was fourth quick in the session with a time of 1:48.489— the first official TA class action of his career.
Two-time TA class champ Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, completed the TA class top five with a time of 1:49.141.
Randy Kinsland, in the No. 11 Kinsland Racing Chevrolet Corvette, made a successful return to Trans Am action after sitting out the past two rounds topping the TA3 class charts with a 1:53.209 lap, just edging the 1:53.308 set by Cindi Lux, in the No. 45 Lux Performance Dodge Viper.
Lux’s time also barely edged the No. 14 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 of Tim Kezman who logged a time of 1:53.333—setting up an intriguing mix of American Muscle and European finesse in advance of qualifying
The TA3 top five was completed by Tom Herb, in the No. 16 Fall-Line Porsche 911 GT3, and Milton Grant, in the No. 5 Sentry Self/Courtyard Porsche 997, with times of 1:54.528 and 1:57.120, respectively.
In TA4, current points leader Brian Kleeman topped the practice charts with a time of 1:59.035, continuing his year-long success that has seen him capture six wins in seven appearances.
Looking to snap that streak this weekend will be Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Chevrolet Performance/TREMEC Chevrolet Camaro, who turned a 1:59.607 in the session as he continues the development of the No. 39 debuted at Road America two rounds ago, continuously improving his own speed.
Steven Davison, coming off a career best second place finish at Watkins Glen, turned a 2:02.074 in the No. 2 DaVinci Plastic Surgery Aston Martin Vantage GT4 to complete the top three.
The TA, TA3 and TA4 classes will return to the track for qualifying later today, with sessions commencing at 1:00 PM ET.
Trans Am Virginia International Raceway Schedule:
Saturday September 23, 2017
1:00 PM – 1:20 PM TA Qualifying
1:20 PM – 1:40 PM TA3/TA4 Qualifying
5:10 PM – 6:20 PM VIR Muscle Car Challenge – TA2
Sunday September 24, 2017
3:25 PM – 4:00 PM VIR Trans Am 100 – TA, TA3 and TA4
*all times eastern
Live Timing: All on-track sessions can be followed at www.gotransam.com and on the Race Monitor app available on Windows, Android, iOS and OSX.
Text Commentary: Updates provided throughout sessions on Twitter at @gotransam.