Lewis and Fix lead practice sessions at COTA
November 4, 2016
Francis, Jr., and Napieralski set pace for production in advance of qualifying
AUSTIN, Texas. [November 4, 2016] – With the downpours that hampered yesterday’s practice sessions nowhere to be seen, Trans Am drivers took to the 20-turn, 3.427-mile track at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) for the first official dry sessions of Round 11 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship.
In TA2, holding a separate session in advance of their independent 102.81-mile race, Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, set the pace with a session-leading 2:15.302 lap—well beneath the qualifying TA2 track record. Lewis comes into Round 11 at COTA with plenty of momentum— hot off a win at Homestead-Miami in Round 9 and a podium finish last round at NOLA Motorsports Park. While a title challenge for Lewis may seem a statistical stretch to some, as he is 45 points behind current leader Tony Buffomante, Lewis is very much in contention for a top-three finish in the TA2 Championship. A strong showing at COTA could power Lewis into contention come the Trans Am finale in Daytona.
Lewis’ time just edged that of Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsport Ford Mustang, who turned a 2:15.364 of his own. Machavern’s Mike Cope Racing teammate and current points leader, Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Mike Cope Ford Mustang, was third in the session with a time of 2:15.577. For Buffomante, there’s another kind of pressure— the knowledge that if everything goes his way this weekend he could clinch the TA2 championship, but circumstance could also leave the door wide open come Daytona.
The TA2 top-five in practice was completed by Tonis Kasemets, in the No. 03 Wachs Fabrication Group Ford Mustang, and Kyle Marcelli, in the No. 03 New Field Inc. Chevrolet Camaro, with times of 2:15.905 and 2:16.277, respectively. The class top-ten also included, in order, Justin Haley, Gar Robinson, Lawrence Loshak, Jordan Bernloehr and Tom Sheehan.
In the TA, TA3 and TA4 multi-class practice session, Paul Fix led the way from behind the wheel of the No. 50 StopFlex/TheCarCoach.com/Chevron Techron Chevrolet Corvette, with a 2:10.912 lap. Fix enters the weekend only one point behind current points leader and defending champion Amy Ruman, and is eager to enter championship weekend at Daytona International Raceway with more than just momentum, but rather the points lead. Fix qualified on pole last year at COTA and set the fast lap of the race despite a disappointing 14th place finish.
Fix was followed in the session by RJ Lopez, in the No. 06 Optica Lopez/ Republica Brewing Chevrolet Corvette, who turned a 2:11.154 lap of his own, just edging that of Michael Lewis, in the No. 12 Goodyear/PegsList.com Jaguar XKR, who timed in at 2:11.164.
The TA class top-five was completed by Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, and Vincent Allegretta, in the No. 41 TA Sights & Sounds Chevrolet Corvette, with times of 2:11.531 and 2:11.642. The TA class top-five also featured, in order, Cliff Ebben, David Pintaric, Simon Gregg, Steve Burns and Tim Rubright.
In TA3, Ernie Francis, Jr., TA4 Champion and driver of the No. 98 Beta Tools/Liquid Performance Chevrolet Corvette, turned a 2:21.136 lap in his first official session in the TA3 class. The time was strong enough to lead the eight-car field in practice and beat out TA3 Champion Randy Mueller, in the No. 0 Epic Motorsports/Bizbloom.com BMW M3, who turned a second quick time of 2:23.463.
Third quick in the TA3 class was Mueller’s teammate Michael Camus, in the No. 08 Bizbloom.com/MCM Holdings BMW M3, who turned a 2:24.428 lap; while Tim Kezman, in the No. 4 Calypso Lemonade/Fall-Line Porsche 997 GT, and Mark Boden, in the No. 47 Fall-Line/Calypso BMW M3, finished fourth and fifth with times of 2:25.303 and 2:25.343.
In TA4, Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 TREMC/SKF/ Backstreet Chevrolet Camaro, beat out Dave Ricci, in the No. 71 Southeast Guardrail Chevrolet Camaro, with a time of 2:27.289 to Ricci’s 2:30.739.
Friday, November 4
4:45 PM – 5:03 PM TA2 One Shot Qualifying
5:08 PM – 5:26 PM TA One Shot Qualifying
5:31 PM – 5:49 PM TA3/TA4 One Shot Qualifying
Saturday, November 5
10:50 AM – 12:05 PM TA/TA3/TA4 Race
4:00 PM – 5:15 PM TA2, powered by AEM, rac