Allegretta and Buffomante take Trans Am poles at Brainerd
July 1, 2017
BRAINERD, Minn. [July 1, 2017] – Vinnie Allegretta and Tony Buffomante will start on pole for their respective 100-mile Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli races tomorrow at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) for the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic, Round 6 of the 2017 Trans Am Championship. In Trans Am’s production classes, TA3 and TA4, Mark Boden and James Pesek also led their respective groups as the Series held qualifying for its 26th appearance at BIR.
For Vinnie Allegretta his pole from behind the wheel of the No. 41 TA Sights & Sounds Chevrolet Corvette marks the first of his career in his 19th Trans Am start in the TA class. The starting position also comes courtesy of a 1:26.049 lap time around the 2.5-mile competition course, a new qualifying track record.
Allegretta, the 2016 Rookie of the Year, is enjoying a career year in Trans Am after capturing three podium finishes thus far and currently holds second in the TA class championship point standings, just 35 shy of current points leader Ernie Francis, Jr. Still, even with six top three finishes, a Trans Am win remains elusive for Allegretta, something he can remedy come tomorrow’s TA, TA3 and TA4 multi-class race.
Starting outside alongside Allegretta will be Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No 98 Buoniconti Fund Ford Mustang, the winner of four consecutive TA class competitions. Francis, who turned a 1:26.354 in qualifying, is yet to start outside the top two and has won both competitions in which he has started second. Tomorrow, Francis will look to boost his victory tally to five-in-a-row, as the top two matchup of 2017 between Francis and Allegretta continues.
Two-time defending champion Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, was third quick in qualifying with a time of 1:26.723, the fourth time this year she has led the second row. Ruman has battled gremlins, mechanicals and poor luck all season, with only a single podium to her name—now she and the Ruman Racing team can right the ship at Brainerd, a track on which she logged a victory in 2015.
Brainerd owner Jed Copham, in the No. 44 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Corvette, will start fourth after a 1:28.927 lap; while Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, completed the TA qualifying top five with a 1:29.483.
Both Kerry Hitt and Jeff Hinkle were absent from the qualifying session, while Tony Ave, a four-time Brainerd race winner and two-time TA class champion, and Cameron Lawrence, who will be pulling double duty between TA and TA2, were both absent as well—fulfilling obligations at Watkins Glen today, set to race at Brainerd tomorrow.
Buffomante, the defending TA2 champion and driver of the No. 34 Bestline Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang, secured his second pole of the season with a track record 1:29.562 lap time. Buffomate’s qualifying marked the third time this weekend the No. 34 has topped the class charts, with Buffomante topping both practice sessions as well, and is the second consecutive pole for him on the Minnesota-based track.
The defending champ currently sits fourth in the TA2 point standings and trails current leader Gar Robinson by 37 points after a frustrating outing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that saw Buffomante forced to retire early. Now the defending champ has the opportunity to work his way back up the point standings and potentially replicate his flag-to-flag victory earlier this year. The TA2 pole is also the ninth of Buffomante’s career.
Starting alongside Buffomante come tomorrow will be Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, who turned a 1:29.657 lap of his own. Robinson’s history at BIR is one of success; he won the 2016 race here and finished third in 2015. A third consecutive podium finish in Minnesota would guarantee Robinson leaves the state with the TA2 points lead intact.
Third quick in qualifying was Robinson’s teammate, Shane Lewis, behind the wheel of the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, with a 1:30.008 lap time; while Lawrence Loshak, in the No. 5 Pennzoil/ ETE Reman Chevrolet Camaro, and Keith Prociuk, in the No. 9 HP Tuners Chevrolet Camaro, completed the TA2 top five with times of 1:30.516 and 1:30.795, respectively, to give Mike Cope Racing Enterprises three of the top five positions.
The TA2 top ten also included, in order, Tom Sheehan, Moses Smith, Shannon Ivey, Ray Neveau, and Tim Gray.
Dillon Machavern and, again, Cameron Lawrence were both absent from TA2 qualifying, currently participating in Continental Tire Series action at Watkins Glen today; they are set to join the Trans Am action tomorrow. Both Machavern and Lawrence have TA2 victories at BIR.
The TA3 class experienced one of the tightest qualifying sessions in its history, with Mark Boden, in the No. 46 Fall-Line/ Calypso Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, edging Randy Kinsland, in the No. 11 Kinsland Racing Chevrolet Corvette, with a time of 1:31.589 to Kinsland’s 1:31.637.
The two drivers have had a season-long back and forth battle atop the TA3 points, with Boden winning at Sebring and Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Kinsland claiming wins at Homestead-Miami and Road Atlanta; now the duo seem primed to once more battle for the lead of both a Trans Am race and the championship.
Tim Kezman, Boden’s teammate in the Fall-Line/ Calypso Porsche 911 GT3, was third quick, just short of Kinsland’s time, with a 1:31.689, adding his own name to the mix for tomorrow’s race. Cindi Lux, in the No. 45 Lux Performance Dodge Viper ACRX, and teammate Dirk Leuenberger, Trans Am debutant and driver of the No. 35 Lux Performance Dodge Viper ACRX, completed the TA3 top five with times of 1:32.337 and 1:35.988.
In TA4, James Pesek, in the No. 00 Rennsport KC Ford Mustang, captured his first career pole in his third career Trans Am start with a 1:37.999 lap, edging out his father, JR Pesek, in the No. 10 Rennsport KC Ford Mustang, who turned a 1:38.775, for the honors. Mel Shaw, in the No. 22 Bay Commercial Group Chevrolet Camaro, completed the TA4 top three with a 1:42.831 lap.
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will return to the track at Brainerd International Raceway tomorrow, July 2, for the TA2 exclusive Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge at 11:00 AM CDT, and the TA, TA3 and TA4 multiclass Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic at 2:30 PM CDT, with both constituting Round 6 of the 2017 Trans Am Championship.
Fans can follow the action throughout the weekend at www.gotransam.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gotransam and on Twitter at @gotransam.
Advance tickets may be purchased at a discounted rate online at www.gotransam.com/events, at www.brainerdraceway.com, or by phone at 1-866-444-4455. Camping is available; children under the age of 12 are free. Tickets may be purchased at the gate as well.
Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic Schedule:
Sunday July 2, 2017
11:00 am – 12:15 pm Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge
2:30 pm – 3:45 pm Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic
*all times Central Daylight
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.
Broadcast: This weekend's event will be broadcast, tape delayed, on CBS Sports Network.
Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic (TA, TA3, TA4) – Jul 22, 12:00pm ET
Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge (TA2) – Aug 05, 12:00pm ET
About Ryan Companies US, Inc.
Founded in 1938, Ryan Companies offers comprehensive commercial real estate services as a national developer, architect, capital investment consultant, builder and real estate manager with a focus on bringing lasting value to its customers and the communities in which it works. Ryan market depth includes retail, industrial, healthcare and senior living. Ryan development and corporate build-to-suit work spans a wide range of product types including office, mixed-use, hospitality, multifamily housing and mission critical facilities. Ryan has nearly 1,300 employees in 13 offices and has completed projects in 38 states. For more information, visit ryancompanies.com.
About the Trans Am Series, presented by Pirelli:
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).
For more on the Series visit www.gotransam.com, “like” Trans Am on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gotransam, or follow Trans Am on Twitter @gotransam