New faces highlight Watkins Glen Trans Am weekend
September 7, 2017
Chris Dyson, Andy Lally, Justin Marks and Paul Fix mix up TA class
WATKINS GLEN, NY. [September 7, 2017] – As the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli rolls into Watkins Glen International featuring on the US Vintage Grand Prix Weekend alongside SVRA, it does so with a swath of new faces in the TA class; as Chris Dyson, Andy Lally, Justin Marks and a returning Paul Fix are all slated to compete in Round 9 of the 2017 Trans Am Championship.
Sunday’s 102-mile TA, TA3 and TA4 multi-class race will mark the Trans Am debuts for both Chris Dyson, in the No. 57 Kryderacing Cadillac CTS-V, and Andy Lally, in the No. 50 Goshare/Axalta Chevrolet Camaro, as the sports car veterans and New York natives take to the familiar 3.4-mile course behind the wheel of 850-plus horsepower TA class machinery for the first time.
Justin Marks will also be in attendance, making his second Trans Am appearance, this time behind the wheel of the No. 25 Katerra Chevrolet Camaro. Marks joined the TA class earlier this season at Road Atlanta, where he set pole and led the field early on before suffering a mechanical failure. Now, armed with a new car underneath him Marks returns to Trans Am six rounds later.
Watkins Glen will also see 2015 and 2016 TA class runner-up Paul Fix, in the No. 4 StopFlex/ClassicTube/Car Coach Chevrolet Corvette, make his 2017 Trans Am debut back with Tony Ave Racing. Career to date, Fix has accumulated eleven wins, 19 top three finishes and 13 poles.
Facing off with the bevy of TA class newcomers will be current points leader Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 Buoniconti Fund Ford Mustang, eager to extend his 2017 win tally to seven. Francis enters the round a heavy favorite in the championship with a 47 point lead over runner-up Vinnie Allegretta, in the No. 41 TA Sights & Sounds Chevrolet Corvette, who is also in the midst of a career year with six wins to his name.
Two-time defending TA class champion Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, will also be in attendance, eager to snap a streak of form hampered by mechanical issues, on-course contact and poor luck that has limited the No. 23 to just one podium finish this year. Now Ruman returns to one of her favorite tracks, Watkins Glen, where she is the defending TA class victor.
In TA2, the championship race between defending champ Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Bestline Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang, and current points leader Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, has tightened up, with Buffomante now within 21 points of Robinson with five rounds of TA2 action remaining.
Last year at the Glen, Buffomante captured pole but suffered a mechanical failure shortly after the green flag few, while Robinson battled up from tenth starting position to a third place finish.
Last year’s TA2 victor Dillon Machavern, who led the vast majority of that race, returns this weekend in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang after a one-race hiatus, still holding fifth position in the championship points despite his absence at Road America.
Machavern and Buffomante stand as just two of a monstrous six-car effort by Mike Cope Racing Enterprises that also includes the talents of Keith Prociuk, Louis-Philippe Montour, Matt Parent and Justin Haley. Montour finished second in TA2 at Watkins Glen in 2016.
Gar Robinson’s Robinson Racing teammate, Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ Robinson Racing Chevrolet Camaro, will also be in attendance, currently running third in the championship.
Cameron Lawrence, currently sixth in the points, will field the No. 19 Class Auto Centers Chevrolet Camaro, coming off a strong showing at Road America where he finished fourth despite a drive-through penalty.
The 22-car TA2 entry also includes the likes of Steve Burns, Doug Peterson, Kyle Marcelli and Tom Sheehan.
In TA3, points leader Mark Boden, in the No. 46 Fall-Line Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, will feature— returning to the site of his first career Trans Am win. Fall-Line Motorsport will field a total of three cars this weekend, with points runner-up Tim Kezman, in the No. 14 Fall-Line Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, and Tom Herb, in the No. 16 Fall-Line Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, all slated to contend.
Sports car veteran Cindi Lux, in the No. 45 Lux Performance Dodge Viper ACRX, will also contend and, like Boden, is coming off a podium finish last round at Road America. Lux also finished second to Boden at Watkins Glen in 2016. Rookie Dirk Leuenberger, in the No. 35 Lux Performance Dodge Viper ACRX, will make his Watkins Glen Trans Am debut.
Don McMillon, in the No. 51 Salasko Racing Chevrolet Corvette, will make his Trans Am, and TA3 class, debut this weekend, hailing from the NASA ranks.
In TA4, points leader Brian Kleeman, in the No. 07 DWW Motorsports Inc Ford Mustang, will aim to extend his streak of dominance in the class after capturing five wins so far this season.
Championship runner-up Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Chevrolet Performance/TREMEC Chevrolet Camaro, has five podium finishes of his own this season but is yet to capture a class win this season. Napieralski debuted the Camaro ZL1 in TA4 last round at Road America, aiming for sustained success as he and the TPR team continue to develop the car.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway TA4 victor Andrew Entwistle, in the No. 78 Phoenix Performance/ Hawk/ Penske Ford Mustang, will make his second career TA4 appearance after a stunning debut victory earlier this year.
Trans Am Watkins Glen Event Schedule:
Thursday September 7, 2017
5:25 PM – 5:55 PM TA2 Practice
Friday September 8, 2017
11:45 – 12:15 PM TA, TA3, TA4 Practice
5:00 – 5:20 PM TA2 Qualifying
Saturday September 9, 2017
10:55 AM – 12:10 PM Watkins Glen Muscle Car Challenge – TA2
5:15 PM – 5:35 PM TA Qualifying
5:40 PM – 6:00 PM TA3/TA4 Qualifying
Sunday September 10, 2017
11:00 AM – 12:15 PM Watkins Glen 100 – TA, TA3, 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.