Loshak, Goikhberg and, Pierce Lead Trans Am Qualifying at Road Atlanta
March 30, 2019
Close qualifying times set tone for Sunday’s feature events
BRASELTON, GEORGIA (March 30, 2019)- The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli classes delivered three tight qualifying sessions at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta Saturday afternoon. More than 40 cars took to the scenic 2.54, 12-turn road course in preparation for Sunday’s two Trans Am 100 feature races at Road Atlanta.
Lawrence Loshak claimed the Trans Am class pole position to net his second of the season, with Misha Goikhberg in TA2 powered by AEM and Aaron Pierce in Super GT seizing the same honors.
“I am ecstatic to get another pole position and earning an extra three points toward the championship,” said Loshak, who started on pole on his way to a Sebring victory earlier this month. “We had a tough day yesterday with two abbreviated testing sessions due to mechanical issues and red flags. Then our transponder didn’t work in official practice so we didn’t record times for qualifying order today, forcing me to start last. It jumbled our strategy a bit but we overcame the obstacles to take first. We have an incredibly fast car for the race tomorrow and we are looking to repeat Sebring with another win.”
With under five minutes left in the Trans Am 15-minute qualifying session, Loshak collected pole position, eclipsing his Burtin Racing teammate Tomy Drissi, who lead both the official practice and most of qualifying, by just under two tenths of a second. The Burtin Racing teammates will start on the front row for the second consecutive time this season as the Atlanta-area team looks to continue its fast start to the 2019 season.
“I overdrove the car a bit to try to make up the two tenths of second to take back the lead but couldn’t beat Lawrence’s time, however, I am happy that it was my teammate who took the lead,” said Drissi. “It’s an honor for Burtin Racing to hold the front row again because our goal is one-two in the Trans Am championship.”
Road Atlanta 2018 race winner Chris Dyson finished two thousandths of a second behind Drissi, turning the third quickest time in TA qualifying in the No. 20 Plaid Ford Mustang with a fast lap time of 1:20.728-seconds. Previous Trans Am champions Ernie Frances Jr. and three-time Road Atlanta winner Amy Ruman rounded out the top-five.
The pole marks the second of his TA2 powered by AEM career for Goikhberg in the No. 10 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro, as the Canadian driver led a tight TA2 qualifying that saw Goikhberg, Thomas Merrill, defending champion Rafa Matos, series veteran Marc Miller and Dillon Machavern within a second of each other.
“We had some mechanical issues and a flat tire in Sebring so it is good to give the team a boost that we can run up front,” explained Goikhberg. “This weekend we’ve been chasing some little issues but my team and my teammate, Ethan Wilson, lead the development of the car to finally get everything sorted out just before qualifying. I am happy that we were able to get fast time in a small amount of laps to save tires for the race. From this point on we have to make minor adjustments to the car to have good pace tomorrow.”
In only his second time racing at on the Road Atlanta circuit in the SGT class, Pierce quickly picked up speed in the fast Road Atlanta corners. Pierce, who has spent most of his race career wheeling sprint cars and midgets around short-track ovals, adapted to the SGT car early, securing pole-position within the first few laps of the session.
“I am usually going in circles so it usually takes me a day or so get acquainted with a race track when we get to one,” said Pierce. “We threw a set of fresh Pirellis on the car for practice today and everything just clicked. I set fast time pretty early in qualifying so I pulled in to cool the tires and went back out briefly, but ultimately just parked it so we could save tires for tomorrow’s race.”
While Pierce locked in a front row start almost immediately, his SGT competitors were not far behind with Mark Boden, Lee Saunders, Tom Herb and Brian Kleeman within eight tenths of a second from Pierce’s fastest lap.
“Our biggest thing for tomorrow is just to finish,” continued Pierce. “We’ve been fast everywhere we go but we have a hard time just finishing. If we can survive the entire race, then they’ll have a hard time beating us. My mindset is to set a pace and if my competitors want to burn their tires off to race, they can go ahead and do that. I’ve studied from the infield for the past two years and the key to winning seems to just keep the same pace the whole time and watch the others fall behind as their tires start to wear. So that’s my strategy going into tomorrow.”
The TA and SGT classes kick-off Round 2 of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli Sunday at 8:50 a.m. ET followed by TA2 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Both feature races will be 39 laps or 70 minutes, whichever comes first. Fans will have the opportunity to meet the drivers, get autographs and snap photos by their favorite Trans Am Presented by Pirelli car during the Fan Walk on Pit Lane from 1:00 to 1:50 p.m. ET.
Links to FINAL QUALIFYING RESULTS: