Gar Robinson wins Trans Am VIR Muscle Car Challenge
September 23, 2017
Shane Lewis gives Robinson Racing one-two finish, Kyle Marcelli grabs first podium of 2017
ALTON, Va. [September 23, 2017] – Gar Robinson emerged with the VIR Muscle Car Challenge victory in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s TA2 class today at Virginia International Raceway, while his Robinson Racing teammate Shane Lewis secured a second place finish to give the team a one-two sweep atop the podium. The duo were joined on the podium by Kyle Marcelli, in third, who captured his first top three finish of the season .
Robinson began the race on pole in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro with Rafa Matos, in the No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro, alongside. Robinson would lead the initial laps before being overtaken by Matos on the fifth lap, but would regain the lead after the No. 88 put four wheels of in turn ten of the 18 turn course.
Robinson would hold the lead through an initial full course caution and following restart, leading the field when an additional full course caution came out with only 11 laps of the planned 31 remaining. Robinson seemed set to battle with Matos for the lead off the restart, the No. 88 having worked its way back up to second position, however Matos coasted to a stop under yellow the victim of an electrical failure.
With teammate Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, alongside, Robinson led the field through the restart and the remainder of the race, securing his fourth win of the 2017 season and, more importantly, some vital points in his championship battle with Tony Buffomante and the No. 34 Bestline Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang.
“It’s great to get a one-two sweep for Robinson,” said Robinson. “I loved sharing the podium with Kyle Marcelli, he’s a good friend of ours. My crew put together a great car for me, we didn’t touch it all weekend to be honest. The best car we’ve had off the trailer all year. A great car equals great results. Of course I’m happy with the result and looking forward to the next three races. It’s going to a lot of fun, I can’t wait to see what happens at the end.”
Robinson insisted that the weekend’s approach was going to be one of caution, but everything seemed to come together for the victory. In addition, Robinson saw his points lead over Buffomante, the defending champ, bolstered to 41 after the No. 34 was brought back to paddock midway through the race with an undiagnosed issue. Buffomante would return to the course on the 21st lap to salvage as many points as possible and finished in 12th position.
“We’re starting to come to the end of the season,” said Robinson. “I know we have to play it safe for the remaining three races, but I also came into this race knowing we had to play it safe as well. The mentality was if Matos got around me I wasn’t really going to challenge him—as long as I was in front of Tony (Buffomante), nothing else mattered. We were going to take what was given to us, but the results worked! Still, that’s the mentality going to take forward as well, everything will be low risk.”
Lewis second place finish was his seventh podium finish of the season, as he and the No. 72 currently sit third in the points.
Marcelli, making his third Trans Am appearance of the season, began the race in fifth position, but consistently climbed— at one point overtaking Lewis for second only to have it reclaimed a lap later. The podium finish easily stands as his best of the season, his previous mark an 11th place finish in Detroit.
Doug Peterson, a previous TA class champion and driver of the No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro, finished fourth a TA2 class career best, while Joe Stevens, owner of Stevens-Miller Racing and driver of the No. 11 Speedlogix Dodge Challenger, completed the TA2 top five.
For moving up four starting positions and making a last lap pass for fifth position, Stevens was awarded the COOLSHIRT Systems Cool Move of the Race. For their efforts in repairing the No. 97 LTK Insulation Technologies Chevrolet Camaro which was damaged in an accident during transport, the Damon Racing crew of Tom Sheehan was awarded the Pitboxes.com Crew of the Race while Crew Chief Jamie Aubie was awarded the TraqGear Crew Chief Award.
Due to time constraints the race was checkered a single lap short of its original duration with 30 laps complete.
While the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will hold an additional TA, TA3 and TA4 class competition, the VIR Trans Am 100, tomorrow, Sunday September 24, the TA2 class will next be in action on Sunday October 8th for Round 11 of the 13 race Trans Am Championship.
All results provisional until posted final.
Trans Am Virginia International Raceway Schedule:
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.