Francis, Jr., and Bilicki lead opening Practice Session at Daytona
November 9, 2017
Saunders continues Daytona dominance in TA3 while Kleeman tops TA4
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. [November 9, 2017] – It was Ernie Francis, Jr., who topped the charts, as the 43-car Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli field took to the 3.56-mile course at Daytona International Speedway to open up the 2017 Trans Am Finale, Round 13 of the Trans Am Championship.
Francis, the recently crowned TA class champ and driver of the No. 98 FramelessShowerDoors.com Ford Mustang, turned the fast lap of the session with a 1:44.544. Francis, championship withstanding, is no stranger to the top of the TA class charts, now the winner of three straight competitions and nine on the year.
Francis was followed in the TA class by Tomy Drissi, in the No. 8 Murder on The Orient Express Chevrolet Corvette, who turned a 1:45.185 lap of his own as he makes his eighth appearance of the 2017 season. TA class newcomer, Steve Kent Jr., making his second appearance in the No. 15 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Corvette, completed the TA class top three with a time of 1:45.514.
The winner of three consecutive TA class competitions at Daytona, Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, was fourth quick in class with a time of 1:45.858; while Claudio Burtin, in the No. 7 GoShare Chevrolet Corvette, completed the TA class top five with a time of 1:46.159.
In the TA2 class, debutant Josh Bilicki, in the No. 25 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro, got his Trans Am career off to a blistering start, turning the fast lap for TA2, a 1:51.337. While the weekend marks Bilicki’s first career appearance with Trans Am, he is no stranger to the road racing ranks of SCCA, NASCAR Xfinity and the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup.
Second quick in TA2 was Cameron Lawrence, in the No. 79 Class Auto Centers Chevrolet Camaro, turning a 1:51.860 lap. Lawrence brings to the weekend a history of success at Daytona in Trans Am, with two TA2 class wins in 2013 and 2014.
Gar Robinson, who captured the 2017 TA2 title last round at Circuit of The Americas, was third quick with a 1:52.029 in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, while his Robinson Racing teammate Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, was just behind, fourth quick with a 1:52.047. Lewis also stands as the 2016 Daytona TA2 race winner.
Completing the TA2 top five was LP Montour, in the No. 13 Montour LTD Chevrolet Camaro, with a time of 1:52.262. The TA2 top ten also included, in order, Tom Sheehan, Scott Lagasse, Jr., Tony Buffomante, Keith Prociuk and Kurt Vogt.
In TA3, Lee Saunders, 2015 TA3 champion and driver of the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper ACR-X, topped the charts with a 1:52.793. In 2016, Saunders, a Florida native, set pole and captured victory here at Daytona. Saunders has also set the TA3 class pole here for the past three years.
TA3 championship contenders Tim Kezman, in the No. 4 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, and Mark Boden, in the No. 56 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche 991 GT3 Cup, were second and third, respectively, in the session with times of 1:53.773 and 1:53.996; while their Fall-Line teammate Tom Herb, in the No. 16 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, was fourth quick with a time of 1:56.307.
Conor Flynn, in the No. 94 Irish Mike’s Automotive Porsche 997, completed the TA3 top five with a time of 1:56.592.
In TA4, champion Brian Kleeman, in the No. 07 DWW Motorsports Ford Mustang, turned a fast lap of 1:57.637, beating out Ramin Abdolvahabi, in the No. 2 DaVinci Aston Martin Vantage GT4, who logged a 1:59.534 and Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Chevrolet Performance/ TREMEC Chevrolet Camaro, who completed the top three with a 1:57.637.
Trans Am will return to the track at Daytona International Speedway for a second practice session this afternoon at 4:30 PM ET.
The weekend sees Trans Am join Historic Sportscar Racing at Daytona International Speedway, holding their Classic 24 Hour & Daytona Historics Races, pairing the past and present of motorsport on Trans Am’s year-end celebration.
Remaining Trans Am Daytona International Raceway Schedule:
Thursday November 9, 2017
4:30 PM – 5:10 PM Practice 2
Friday November 10, 2017
12:30 PM – 12:48 PM TA/TA2 Qualifying
12:50 PM – 1:08 PM TA3/TA4 Qualifying
Saturday November 11, 2017
10:15 AM – 11:45 AM Trans Am Race (All classes)
*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.