Ave Takes Fifth Trans Am Victory of Season in First Race of Brainerd Doubleheader
September 3, 2011
BRAINERD, Minn. (September 3, 2011) – Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., took another step closer to successfully defending his SCCA Pro Racing Trans Am Series championship with a dominating victory in the first race of a doubleheader weekend at Brainerd International Raceway.
As he has done on several occasions over the past two seasons, Ave made it look easy in the No. 4 Lamers Racing/Beebe Racing/Optech/PME Chevrolet Corvette in Saturday’s 40 lapper. After setting a track record a few hours earlier and taking his sixth consecutive pole position, Ave quickly moved out into the lead at the start.
A full-course caution came out on the opening lap after Amy Ruman, of Kent, Ohio, and Cliff Ebben, of Appleton, Wis., tangled in Turn 1 just after the green flag flew. Ebben spun and made contact with the barrier, avoiding injury but ending his race early, while Ruman was able to continue.
The race went green again on Lap 3 and Ave once again pulled out to a comfortable, albeit somewhat conservative lead. Ave maintained a gap of around 10 seconds for most of the race, but stretched his advantage considerably over the closing laps to win by 29.598 seconds over Daniel Ramoutarsingh, of La Romain, Trinidad.
It was Ave’s fifth victory of the season and the 11th of his Trans Am career. Perhaps even more importantly, Ave once again extended his lead in the championship standings over Simon Gregg. With two races remaining on the schedule, Ave leads Gregg by 211 points, 913-702. He will only need to take the green flag in Sunday’s race to clinch his second straight Trans Am title.
“It went real good,” Ave said. “Unfortunately, Cliff had a problem at the beginning, so it was down to me winning it for the Lamers team and for my company. I’m glad we were able to do it. I don’t know what happened to him. Hopefully, we can get him running for tomorrow.
“I was just cruising around. It was a very good day. It doesn’t happen like that very often. We just were kind of taking it easy and then at the end, the last two laps I went real hard just to see what would happen if I had to. Other than that, it was pretty uneventful.”
Ramoutarsingh, the 2009 Trans Am Rookie of the Year, once again matched his career-best result with a second-place performance in the No. 18 Trinrico Steel and Wire Products Jaguar XKR. It was Ramoutarsingh’s second consecutive runner-up result and his third second-place trophy of the season, and came after a race-long battle with Gregg.
“The team gave me a great car and I just had to drive the hell out of it,” Ramoutarsingh said. “Simon gave me such an awesome race. He was faster in the second section, so I had to try to get him in the first. For the first time here, to have both of us have the car sideways in Turn 1 and 2, it was a serious race.
“Simon is always there and his car is always consistent. He has tremendous experience. Everywhere we go, Simon has been there dozens of times and I have a lot of respect for him. I have a lot of fun racing with him. This whole year is about paying tribute to the people who help me stay in the game, Trinrico Steel and Wire Products, and my team for running me. It was my goal to give them a podium every race and we’re still trying.”
Gregg, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., finished third in the No. 59 Chevrolet Corvette for Shakopee, Minn.-based Derhaag Motorsports, just as he did in last year’s Trans Am event at Brainerd. It was his fourth podium result of the season.
“Brainerd has been good to me,” Gregg said. “I’m starting to consider this a home track for me with the team being from here. They bring extra crew to this race and that helps us prepare for tomorrow’s race. A lot of teams are going to be spread a little bit thin, I think for the double event. It’s another podium finish and that’s excellent. We’re on a roll. The car was reliable again. The start of the race was kind of crazy in front of me, but I made it through that, just barely. It was a clean race. I was glad there was no off-track excursions or any contact.”
Fourth place went to Ruman, who put together an outstanding charge in the No. 23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette despite the opening-lap incident with Ebben and two trips to pit lane during the race. Gregg’s Derhaag Motorsports teammate, Doug Harrington, of Kemah, Texas, came home fifth in the No. 00 New Orleans Voodoo Chevrolet Corvette.
In the Trans Am 2 (TA2) class, Bob Stretch, of Arlington, Texas, became the first recipient of the TA2 Goodyear contingency award and receives a free set of Goodyear Eagles for his victory in the No. 98 Wheels America Racing Chevrolet Camaro. He started from the class pole position and led throughout the race to score his fourth TA2 victory of the season. He now leads Bill Prietzel, of Hubertus, Wis., by 134 points, 655-521, in the race for class championship honors.
“It was a little bit of a good battle out there,” Stretch said. “The track is good, the facility is good and it just came together for us in the end. There were lots of challenges. I had a tranny that wasn’t working very well and you’ve really got to manage these tires, so it’s always a balance between how fast you want to go and how much you need to manage your tires. In the process of doing that, the Porsche caught up to me, but then I lost him again somewhere close to the end. It’s critical to really manage these cars. That’s what it comes down to and it’s always a difficult balance.”
Finishing second in TA2 was Tim Gray, of Minneapolis, Minn., in the No. 60 Ryan Companies US Inc. Porsche 996. Ricky Sanders, of Fayetteville, Ga., rounded out the podium with a third place class result in the No. 19 Pitboxes.com/Racetrailersales.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
BRAINERD, Minn. - Results from Saturday's 40-lap, 100-mile SCCA Pro Racing Trans Am Series Round 7 race, part of a doubleheader weekend at Brainerd International Raceway, with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).
1. (1) Tony Ave, Maiden, N.C., Chevrolet Corvette, 40.
2. (5) Daniel Ramoutarsingh, La Romain, Trinidad, Jaguar XKR, 40, -29.598.
3. (4) Simon Gregg, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Chevrolet Corvette, 40, -30.880.
4. (3) Amy Ruman, Kent, Ohio, Chevrolet Corvette, 39, -1 lap.
5. (7) Doug Harrington(R), Kemah, Texas, Chevrolet Corvette, 39, -1 lap.
6. (9) Bob Stretch(R), Arlington, Texas, Chevrolet Camaro, 38, -2 laps.
7. (10) Tim Gray(R), Minneapolis, Minn., Porsche 996, 38, -2 laps.
8. (11) Ricky Sanders(R), Fayetteville, Ga., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 37, -3 laps.
9. (12) Bill Prietzel(R), Richfield, Wis., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 34, -6 laps.
10. (6) Denny Lamers, Appleton, Wis., Ford Mustang, 31, Mech.
11. (8) David Jans(R), Mundelein, Ill., Ford Mustang, 14, Mech.
12. (13) Tom Sheehan(R), Auburn, N.H., Chevrolet Camaro, 2, Mech.
13. (2) Cliff Ebben, Appleton, Wis., Ford Mustang, 0, Crash.
Time of race: 1 hours, 8 minutes, 46.809 seconds.
Average speed: 87.234 mph
Margin of victory: 29.598 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-40, #4 Tony Ave
Fastest race lap: #23 Amy Ruman, 1:32.157 (97.659 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #4 Tony Ave, 1:27.415 (102.957 mph)