Practice Notes from Road Atlanta
May 12, 2017
Marks and Buffomante set fast laps in TA, TA2, Pierce and Kleeman lead production
BRASELTON, Ga. [May 12, 2017] – The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli officially commenced Round 3 of the 2017 Trans Am Championship at Road Atlanta with two early morning practice sessions as the 55-car field took to the iconic 2.54-mile circuit in final preparations for this afternoon’s qualifying sessions.
The TA class was led in both sessions by Trans Am debutant Justin Marks, in the No. 33 GoPro Motorplex Ford Mustang. Marks, a veteran of sportscar racing and the NASCAR circuits, has taken immediately to the TA class, turning the fastest lap at 1:22.173 to lead both sessions. Marks led both sessions by a solid margin—five-tenths in Practice 1 and by nearly a full second in Practice 2.
The remainder of the TA class top-five throughout the two sessions consisted of more familiar faces. Two-time defending champion Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, and Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 Breathless Pro Racing/ Beta Tools Ford Mustang, placed in the top five for both sessions as did Tomy Drissi, in the No. 8 Arthritis Foundation Chevrolet Corvette.
Both Ruman and Francis have a history of success at Road Atlanta; Ruman has won the past two TA class races on the circuit and has three career wins on the course, including her history making victory in 2011. Likewise, Ernie Francis won the TA4 class at Road Atlanta in both 2016 and 2015.
Vinnie Allegretta, in the No. 41 TA Sights and Sounds Chevrolet Corvette, and Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, both made appearances in the top five—Gregg in the first and Allegratta in the second. Gregg would watch the second from the sidelines while the Derhaag Motorsports team performed an engine swap on the No. 59.
The TA2 class was paced by Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Bestline Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang, turning the fast lap so far, a 1:24.756 in the first session— well beneath his own qualifying track record, a 1:26.000 set last year. Buffomante stands as the defending TA2 victor at Road Atlanta, the result of a flag-to-flag tour de force in 2016.
Robinson would lead the second session from behind the wheel of the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, swapping positions with Buffomante from the first session.
Cameron Lawrence, in the No. 19 Class Auto Centers Chevrolet Camaro, was a constant presence atop the charts as well. Lawrence also has a track record of success at Road Atlanta with three TA2 wins to his name, coming in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Adam Andretti, in the No. 44 ECC/ Anchor Bolt and Screw Chevrolet Camaro, had by his standards a somewhat slow start in the first session, showing 10th on the charts but quickly made his way back into the top five for the second session with a third best 1:25.728 lap. Andretti has one career TA2 win at Road Atlanta, coming in 2014.
Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, and Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, both made top five appearances as well—Lewis in the first session and Machavern in the second.
The fast lap for the TA3 class was set by another debutant, Aaron Pierce, in the No. 04 LSI/Sam Pierce Chevrolet/ Fast Chevrolet Corvette, who turned a 1:27.153 lap— a full second quicker than the qualifying track record.
2017 race winners Mark Boden, in the No. 46 Fall-Line/Calypso Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, and Randy Kinsland, in the No. 11 Kinsland Racing Chevrolet Corvette, were also present atop the charts, with Kinsland leading the first session while Tim Kezman, in the No. 4 Fall-Line/Calypso Porsche 911 GT3, and Conor Flynn, in the No. 95 Irish Mike’s Automotive Porsche 997, both continued their streak near the lead.
In TA4, Brian Kleeman, in the No. 07 DWW Motorsports Inc Ford Mustang, set a 1:30.690 to lead both sessions continuing his streak atop the class—coming off wins at Sebring and Homestead-Miami, where he also set pole. Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Chevrolet Performance/ Tremec Chevrolet Camaro, would lead the first session and place second in Practice 2.
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli joins Formula Drift on the weekend, holding Drift Atlanta presented by Papa John’s and Global Time Attack.
General Admission tickets can be purchased at the gate and allow spectator access for all 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.
Round 3 of the 2017 Trans Am Championship Schedule:
Friday May 12, 2017
1:55 PM – 2:15 PM TA Qualifying
2:15 PM – 2:35 PM TA3/TA4 Qualifying
2:35 PM – 2:55 PM TA2 Qualifying
Saturday May 13, 2017
8:55 AM – 10:10 AM TA/TA3/TA4 Race
11:30 AM – 12:45 PM TA2 Muscle Car Challenge powered by AEM Infinity
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 is not included in Trans Am’s CBS Sports Network Broadcast Package