Ernie Francis, Jr., secures Indianapolis Motor Speedway pole position
June 16, 2017
Mark Boden and Brian Kleeman lead TA3, TA4 as Trans Am holds qualifying sessions
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. [June 16, 2017] – For the third time this season Ernie Francis, Jr., captured pole position in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli, securing his place atop the 38-car, TA, TA3 and TA4 field for Saturday’s Trans Am Speedway Showdown, one of two 100-mile Trans Am races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, Round 5 of the 2017 Trans Am Championship. Also turning fast-laps in qualifying around the 2.439-mile “Grand Prix” course were Preston Calvert in the TA3 class and Brian Kleeman in TA4.
Francis’ pole position, coming his way via a 1:25.964 lap, puts him and the No. 98 Breathless Pro Racing/Beta Tools Ford Mustang in prime position to pursue what would be his fourth consecutive victory in the TA class, continuing what has been a storybook start to the 2017 season. Francis made the leap up to TA competition this year after winning three consecutive TA4 class championships and has been near dominant, with the exception of having suffered a mechanical failure while in the lead at the Sebring season opener. The pole is the 31st of Francis’ Trans Am career across all classes and a victory would stand as the 19-year-old’s 27th across all classes as well.
Starting alongside Francis will be Vinnie Allegretta, in the No. 41 TA Sights and Sounds Chevrolet Corvette, who turned a 1:26.482 lap of his own. The combination of Allegretta and Francis replicates the starting front row from last round at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, and the finishing order as well. Allegretta has hit a hot streak of his own as of late, now residing second in the points behind no other than Francis—forming what could be a contest to watch throughout the 2017 season.
Two-time defending TA class champion Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, was third quick with a time of 1:27.284 around the circuit. Ruman, who was forced to exit last round’s competition at Detroit early with a mechanical failure, ties her highest starting position of the season with the effort, putting her in position to chase what would be the first win of the season for the Ruman Racing machine.
Completing the TA class top five were David Pintaric, in the No. 57 Kryderacing Cadillac CTS-V, and Cameron Lawrence, in the No. 6 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, with times of 1:27.983 and 1:27.990, respectively. This marks a career first TA class appearance for Lawrence, a two-time TA2 champion, and full-time competitor in the TA2 class, which will hold its own independent race Sunday.
The TA class top ten also included Tomy Drissi, Cliff Ebben, Claudio Burtin, Simon Gregg and Tim Rubright.
In the TA3 class, Mark Boden, in the No. 46 Fall-Line/ Calypso Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, would capture pole by way of 1:31.505 lap, marking his first pole of the year. Boden has been a front row contender for the entirety of the season thus far, winning the Sebring opener and finishing second in the remainder of competitions— performances that have seen him only seven points off of the class points lead.
Tim Kezman, Boden’s teammate and driver of the No. 4 Fall-Line/ Calypso Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, was second quick with a time of 1:31.632 securing a Fall-Line sweep of the front row; while Indianapolis’ own Aaron Pierce, in the No. 04 LSI/Sam Pierce Chevrolet Corvette, was third with a 1:31.791 qualifying effort. The TA3 top five was completed by Tom Herb, in the No. 16 Fall-Line/ Calypso Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, with a 1:32.100 and Conor Flynn, in the No. 95 Irish Mike’s Automotive Porsche 997, with a 1:32.242.
In TA4, points leader Brian Kleeman, in the No. 07 DWW Motorsports Inc Ford Mustang, continued his dominance, securing his fourth pole of the season with a 1:33.130 lap—nearly two full seconds over the nearest TA4 qualifier. Kleeman has won every TA4 competition thus far in 2017, a streak that seems ready to continue if he and the No. 07 can maintain their speed throughout all 42 laps around the speedway.
Following Kleeman was Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Chevrolet Performance/TREMEC Chevrolet Camaro, who turned a 1:35.062 and will start in second position, charged with the task of chasing down Kleeman and challenging the points leader’s streak. Guy Dreier, in the No. 13 Guy Dreier Designs Maserati Gran Turismo GT4, was third quick, turning a 1:35.919; while James Pesek, making his second Trans Am appearance in the No. 00 Rennsport KC Ford Mustang, was fourth with a 1:37.258. Trans Am first-timer Andrew Entwistle, in the No. 78 Phoenix Performance/Hawk Ford Mustang, completed the top five with a time of 1:37.276.
The TA, TA3 and TA4 classes, and their respective pole-sitters, will take to the IMS track at 2:40 PM ET tomorrow, June 17th, for the multi-class 102.06 mile, 42-lap Trans Am Speedway Showdown, part of Round 5 of the 2017 Trans Am Championship.
The TA2 class, which will hold an identical 42-lap competition on Sunday, June 18th, at 3:30 PM, will hold their qualifying effort following the TA, TA3 and TA4 race at 4:30 PM.
The Trans Am Series is joined on the weekend by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association holding their Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational, including the Indy Legends Pro-Am as well as the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup series.
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.
TA3/TA4 Qualifying Results - Forthcoming
All results provisional until posted final.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, children 15 and under are free with a paid adult.
Round 5 of the 2017 Trans Am Championship Schedule:
Saturday June 17, 2017
11:00 AM – 11:30 AM TA2 Practice 2
2:40 PM – 4:00 PM Trans Am Speedway Showdown - TA/TA3/TA4
4:30 PM – 4:50 PM TA2 Qualifying
Sunday June 18, 2017
3:30 PM – 5:00 PM Indianapolis Muscle Car Challenge – TA2
*all times Eastern 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.
Trans Am Speedway Showdown (TA, TA3, TA4) – Jul 08, 12:00p.m. ET
Indianapolis Muscle Car Challenge (TA2) – Jul 15, 12:00p.m. ET