Drissi and Merrill capture Trans Am poles at Auto Club
April 28, 2018
Field set for first race of 2018 West Coast Championship
FONTANA, Calif. [April 28, 2018] – Tomy Drissi and Thomas Merrill captured the first poles of the 2018 Trans Am West Coast Championship in Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli qualifying today at Auto Club Speedway.
For Drissi, the pole marks the 10th of his Trans Am career in what stands as his 109th start and comes by way of a new track record 1:35.756 qualifying lap. Drissi, who finished second in the 2017 West Coast Championship, is debuting with a new team, Claudio Burtin’s Burtin Racing in the No. 8 GoShare Chevrolet Camaro, showcasing a tribute livery to a Trans Am classic.
“We’ve got the ’70 Jim Hall Chaparral factory Camaro that ran in Trans Am here this weekend,” said Drissi. “Just the way it ran back in the day. I’m honored just to have it here. So when I found out I was going to run for Claudio (Burtin) and knew the car would have a Camaro body, I sent him a picture of the Chaparral car. What Claudio has done with this car is commemorate the Jim Hall Camaro on a modern Trans Am car. It’s pretty cool.”
Drissi hopes the pole is a harbinger of things to come, as he kicks off his 2018 season with plans to campaign in both the West and East with Burtin Racing.
“I’ve known Claudio in the past,” said Drissi. “He was a good driver and always had good equipment. I didn’t know what I was doing towards the end of the year, so I got in touch with Claudio and put together a deal. Even though we missed the first three events, we’re going to run for the overall championship and give those guys and girls a run for the money. We’ll run the West Coast to try and get some exposure over here— there’s some great tracks here, so to the competitors out East, sure, it’s a couple more bucks and another day but come over here and run some of the great tracks.”
Drissi was followed in the TA class by Trans Am debutant Tim Adolphson, in the No. 88 Cybersight Chevrolet Corvette, who turned a 1:38.476 qualifying lap of his own.
In TA2, it was Thomas Merrill, in the No. 81 Big Diehl Racing Ford Mustang, who topped the class charts with a time of 1:38.635, also a class qualifying record. The Auto Club Race will mark Merrill’s second race in Trans Am as he and the Big Diehl Racing team continue to learn the TA2 platform—one he remains an enthusiastic fan of.
“TA2 is a good fit for what my teammate, Richard Diehl, and I wanted to do for this year,” said Merrill. “We love the cars, we love the series and we like the competition. We’re eager to see it grow out West and want to be here when it does.”
“It’s going to be interesting to see how the tires wear over the course of the race,” continued Merrill. “This track is very point and shoot; so putting the power down with discipline is going to be an important thing but it’s kind of an unknown. We haven’t done a race run yet, so we’re going to be learning as we go.”
With Merrill on pole, the front row will also feature the No. 24 PortlandImplantDentistry.com Ford Mustang of Brad McAllister, the only non-rookie in the six-car TA2 class field. McAllister, the 2017 TA2 West Coast runner-up, turned a 1:39.950 lap to secure the position.
David Smith, in the No. 11 Shockwave Suspension Seating Chevrolet Camaro, qualified third with a 1:42.618 lap while Michael Mihld, in the No. 55 Track Fanatic Chevrolet Camaro, and Tom Klauer, in the No. 25 Steve Petty Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, completed the class top five with times of 1:43.079 and 1:44.784, respectively.
Dane Jorgenson-Smith, in the No. 28 Bob Smith Motors Ford Mustang, was the only member of the TA4 class to make the qualifying session, turning a 1:43.792 lap, also a qualifying track record.
The Trans Am West Coast Championship will return to the track at Auto Club Speedway tomorrow, Sunday April 29, for Round 1 of the 2018 West Coast Championship, a 100.8-mile multi-class competition.
All sessions will take place on Auto Club Speedway’s 2.8-mile sports car course; and the race will follow Trans Am’s standard 100-mile format, in this case 36 laps around the 21-turn circuit. However, all classes will compete in a single race rather than Trans Am’s usual independent TA2 competition.
Fans can keep up with the event and all of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli at www.gotransam.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gotransam and on Twitter at @gotransam.
Remaining Event Schedule:
Sunday April 29, 2018
12:50 PM – 2:00 PM Trans Am Feature Race
All times PDT
Live Timing: All on-track sessions can be followed through live timing and scoring at www.gotransam.com and on the Race Monitor app available on Windows, Android, iOS and OSX.
Text Commentary: Updates provided throughout races on Twitter at @gotransam
General admission tickets may be purchased online at https://svra.com/gtb/?lib=product&pid=502&cat=16 or at the gate.