Ave makes it four for four with win at Brainerd International
September 1, 2012
Tony Ave took the first length of the two race Trans Am weekend as part of 25th Coca-Cola Muscle Car Shootout at Brainerd International Raceway. Counting this win, Ave has won the last four Trans Am races at Brainerd, and courtesy of his victory the #4 Lamers/PME Engines/RPX Chevrolet Corvette will start on pole for the second race on Sunday as he attempts to go for five victories in a row at the historic course.
Ave started on pole and held the position throughout the race, fending off challenges from Simon Gregg and Amy Ruman. Despite a rough surface and the potential for serious tire wear, Ave insisted the team was not faced with any serious challenges:
“We were just fine out there, we had a great setup and I grew up racing here and did a lot of ice racing as a kid, which is kind of like this. You really have to be tender with the steering and the throttle, you can't try and force anything. The team did a great job, PME Engines and Denny Lamers and everyone who helps us out—it was another good day!”
Ave’s teammate Doug Peterson took second place after a lengthy battle with Simon Gregg in the later half of the race, Peterson and the #87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette made the podium for the first time since coming in third at New Jersey Motorsports Park:
“It was a lot of fun, Tony makes a great car and we had an excellent strategy. I’ve got to thank my sponsor, 3-Dimensional Services, 3Dimensional.com, they make things like this possible. It was just a fun race, everyone raced clean and we had a great time.”
In third was points leader Simon Gregg, who will retain his points lead. Gregg moved between second and third throughout the entire race, mainly battling back and forth with the #23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette of Amy Ruman. Gregg’s #59 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette completed its 71st consecutive race, a streak of reliability that has helped him land on the podium at every race of the year.
Amy Ruman would come in fourth for TA after succumbing to tire wear, she’ll look to rebound tomorrow in her pursuit of her first Trans Am championship. Matt Crandall in the #3 Speedsports.net Ford Mustang came in fifth.
Pete Halsmer, who had followed Bob Stretch for forty minutes of the hour-long race, claimed the top spot on the TA2 podium. Halsmer eventually made his move on the defending champion passing him for the lead and never looking back, eventually landing the #12 Ctek Battery Chargers/Allstar/Motorstate Chevrolet Camaro on the top spot of the podium:
“We raced hard and the team did great work. Bob (Stretch) really wore me out—he’s a great driver and a did a fantastic job out there too.”
The race was not over for Stretch though. Cameron Lawrence came back from being almost 18 seconds down to eventually pass Stretch on the 38th lap of the race, and held him off for the remained of the event. Lawrence’s podium placement is his second in a row and wrapped out a one-two sweep for Miller Racing for the first race of the weekend.
Bob Stretch will remain points leader, holding that lead by a massive 30 points. Stretch and his #06 Fix Rim Mobile Wheel Repair still set the fastest lap of the race and held the lead for the most laps.
“This reminded me of a race up in Canada once, which was on a frozen lake. The track is like ice out there. We had fun though and it’s great to have the Miller guys do well and race with us out there. It was great competition and we’ll do it all over again tomorrow.”
Michael Wilson, Chris Liesfeld and Tom Sheehan led the remainder of the TA2 field.
Tim Gray and his #60 Ryan Companies US Inc. Porsche GT-3 won the GGT class, out dueling GGT points leader Chuck Cassaro in his #76 Cassaro Enterprises/Midwest Council Panoz GTS. While Gray led the entire race Cassaro battle up through the field to catch up until succumbing to a flat tire two thirds of the way through.
The Trans Am action will continue tomorrow as the field returns to the track at 10:30 a.m. cst for a short practice before racing once again at 3:45 p.m.