Francis Jr. Tops TA Class in VIR Practice
September 22, 2017
Kezman and Napieralski set fast laps in TA3 and TA4
ALTON, VA. [September 22, 2017] – It took Ernie Francis, Jr., a single session at Virginia International Raceway to rebound from a disappointing outing last round at Watkins Glen International, topping the TA class in practice for the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s Round 10 of the 2017 Championship.
With the mechanical issues that plagued the No. 98 Buoniconti Fund Ford Mustang a thing of the past, Francis turned a 1:46.660 lap around the 3.27-mile, 18-turn full course, a pace, if replicated in qualifying, would stand below the existing track record 1:46.915.
Francis enters the round comfortably atop the TA class championship point standings, with a 45-point gap between him and current runner-up Vinnie Allegretta. The 13th place finish at Watkins Glen stands as an anomaly for Francis, with the No. 98 securing wins in six of the nine rounds so far in 2017.
Francis was followed in the session by none other than Allegretta, in the No. 41 TA Sights & Sounds Chevrolet Corvette, turning a 1:47.282 lap of his own. Paul Fix, in the No. 4 StopFlex/ClassicTube/CarCoach Chevrolet Corvette, was third quick with a time of 1:48.853. Fix stands as the most successful TA competitor at VIR, winning the category in the last three Trans Am competitions on the southern Virginia course.
Two-time defending TA class champion Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, stood fourth on the charts with a 1:49.688; while Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, was fifth with a 1:49.914.
In TA3, Tim Kezman, in the No. 14 Fall-Line Porsche 911 GT3, topped his respective practice charts with a 1:54.183 lap of his own, commencing the blanketing of the TA3 top three by Fall-Line Motorsports.
Kezman was followed by Tom Herb, in the No. 16 Fall-Line Porsche 911 GT3, who turned a 1:55.429 and current TA3 points leader Mark Boden, in the No. 46 Fall-Line Porsche 911 GT3, who completed the trifecta with a 1:56.410.
Sportscar veteran Cindi Lux, in the No. 45 Lux Performance Dodge Viper ACR-X, was fourth quick with a time of 1:56.483; while Milton Grant, in the No. 5 SentrySelf/Courtyard Porsche 997, was fifth quick in class.
TA4 saw only a limited selection of the field participate in the session, with Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Chevrolet Performance/TREMEC Chevrolet Camaro, turning the session’s fast lap, a 2:00.655, over JR Pesek, in the No. 10 Rennsport KC Ford Mustang, who logged a 2:07.595 of his own.
TA, TA3 and TA4 will take to the VIR track again tomorrow, September 23, 2017, at 11:30 AM ET for their second practice session of the weekend.
Trans Am Virginia International Raceway Schedule:
Saturday September 23, 2017
11:30 AM – 12:00 PM TA/TA3/TA4 Practice 2
1:00 PM – 1:20 PM TA Qualifying
1:20 PM – 1:40 PM TA3/TA4 Qualifying
5:10 PM – 6:20 PM VIR Muscle Car Challenge – TA2
Sunday September 24, 2017
3:25 PM – 4:00 PM VIR Trans Am 100 – TA, TA3 and TA4
*all times eastern
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.