MCRE opens TA2 season at Sebring
March 8, 2019
Sebring, Fla. [March 7, 2019]— Beautiful Florida weather welcomed teams and fans to Sebring International Raceway for the 2019 season opener of the Trans Am Racing Series presented by Pirelli. But it wasn’t just the weather that was hot, as the TA2 muscle cars once again proved that the competition continues to sizzle with exciting racing and talented competitors.
While it wasn’t surprising for Tony Buffomante in his 2019 Ford Mustang powered by Koury Engines, to post one of his best times (2.08.391) in his last three years at Sebring, he fell short of the pole position by a mere .122 of a second to Rafa Matos (2.08.269).
“The team did a great job getting our Ford Mustang ready and we almost grabbed pole in a very exciting session where all three makes had the pole at one point,” explained an excited Buffomante. “We had some challenges in the race that caused us to lose a few spots but came home with a solid finish. Track conditions in the 87-degree heat were much different than we tested, [but] we were able to gain some additional setup information for the future.”
High temperatures played a role during Buffomante’s quest to maintain a top position during the race. With An overall finish of P5, Buffomante continues to maintain a top 5 finishing position for the past three years at Sebring.
“The 34 car struggled with grip based on rising track temperatures,” stated crew chief Travis Cope. “Our set up was based off an amazing test we completed at the end of January here at Sebring. We thought the car would come around as the race went on, but that wasn’t the case. I believe we could have gained a spot or two if they race would have ended with a final restart rather than under caution, but I’m glad that everything came home in one piece.”
Full time driver under the Mike Cope banner this year, and his first real time laps at Sebring, proved that Lawless Alan will be a force to be reckoned with in the TA2 class this year. A qualifying position of 13 was far from “unlucky” as the 17-year-old California driver made his way through the field, crossing the finish line in the 8thposition under an unwelcoming yellow/checkered flag finish.
“Lawless made improvements with seat time in every session this weekend at Sebring,” said crew chief Jason Bowser. “He drove a very smart race and showed the Cope team that he has what it takes to be a great success in TA2 this season. It’s unfortunate that the race ended with the yellow/checkered as I believe he could have picked up a few spots on a final restart.”
HP Tuners driver, Keith Prociuk in his #9 Chevrolet Camaro was on his way to a top ten finish after qualifying 10th quick when on lap 14 he encountered a flat left rear tire which relinquished him to ride out the rest of the race with the sole purpose of gaining points.
“Sebring didn’t start out as well as we had hoped. Qualifying was a bit difficult due to a faulty shock. Somehow, I was able to turn a lap that started us out 10th, so semi-close to where we wanted to be,” explained Prociuk. “The team did a great job fixing up the car and Mike Cope just told me to trust the car going into the first turn. I did and ended up making up 3 or so places in the first part of the race. chasing down 6’th, unfortunately we had a tire blowout. The guys did a great job of getting me back out there, but I was just too far back. It’s a shame because we really had a great race setup. The pace was there, the luck wasn’t unfortunately. We’ll do better at Road Atlanta.”
After missing several races during the latter part of the 2018 season, Matt Parent was eager to be back behind the wheel of his sporty #14 Venture General Contracting Ford Mustang. While his qualifying effort of 23rdposition did not put him where he would have liked to be, he was able to maintain position throughout the race. With the final laps closing in, Matt had a left rear tire go flat and salvaged a 22nd place finish.
Parent had mixed feelings about his performance coming back after a long stretch of limited, to no, seat time. “It felt great on one end and frustrating on another,” explained Parent. “The car wasn’t where it needed to be, and I was definitely rusty, so the performance was way off. It did feel great to be back in the car and I really enjoy Sebring; the track and the history are amazing. Turn 17 still makes me nuts but I will get it someday. Being back with the Trans Am family was a lot of fun. Trans Am, like I said before, is a great group of committed, fun people and the efforts the teams and organizers are taking to make Trans Am a strong presence is exciting to see.”
Facing misfortune from the start, Maurice Hull driving the #57 Silver Hare Racing Ford Mustang encountered contact from a fellow racer which sent him into the wall causing right front damage. He was able to maintain his position in the field until a vibration caused him to retire less than 10 laps into the event.
“Maurice ran into some tough luck at the season opener, but we are looking for some redemption as we head to Road Atlanta,” states team owner Mike Cope. “He’s got a brand-new Cope Chassis that will be making its debut and we hope to pick up the momentum that we left off with in Daytona.”
Mike Cope Racing Enterprises, Inc. heads North to Road Atlanta for Round 2 of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli, March 29th-31st. Tony Buffomante, Keith Prociuk, Matt Parent, Lawless Alan, and Maurice Hull will be accompanied by two up and coming NASCAR stars as they join the MCR house car program for select 2019 TA2 events.
About Mike Cope Racing Enterprises:
Perhaps no other team has worked so diligently to achieve success over the course of 30 years as MCRE. Over the years, they have successfully launched corporate sponsorships in national series, developed short track and SCCA Road race champions and mentored young upcoming drivers. Lead by Mike Cope, he brings the same enthusiasm, dedication and knowledge to his race team that made him victorious in his own racing career.
MCRE offers a variety of services for drivers interested in the Trans Am Series’ TA2 program, including custom builds, arrive and drive programs, maintenance programs, consulting, driver mentoring, set-up and shock dyno. Mike Cope Racing Enterprises is based in Clearwater, Florida. Learn more at www.mikecoperacecars.com.
Mike Cope Racing Enterprises partners include: Koury Engines, Keyser Manufacturing, FiveStar RaceCar Bodies, Wilwood Brakes, Bassett Wheels, Penske Racing Shocks, Integra Racing Shocks, and Tilton.
Parties interested in the MCRE “Arrive and Drive” Program in TA2, or would like to purchase a Mike Cope Chassis can contact the team office at 727-201-8910 or email firstname.lastname@example.org