Tony Ave takes home another victory, while Gregg builds on points lead
November 3, 2012
The first race of the 2012 Trans Am finale weekend at Road Atlanta was full of surprises, a slick track, and a dominant performance by two-time defending champion Tony Ave. While Ave admitted that a third championship is out of his reach, he still wanted to put in a good showing at Road Atlanta and to hopefully bring home a few trophies—so far he’s halfway there.
Ave and the #4 Lamers/PME Engines/RPX Chevrolet Corvette started in pole with teammate Doug Peterson, in the #87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette, alongside. Ave would hold the lead for the entire race and was pleased with his overall performance.
“I know we’re behind in the points right now, but to come out here and do well against this competition is always an accomplishment. We just want to compete and win, and I’m going to enjoy it. The car ran great and it’s always good to be able to pull off a flag to flag win.”
Behind Ave the field was in constant flux as drivers did their best to cope with some of the stiffest competition all year. Peterson, Amy Ruman, and points leader Simon Gregg battled back and forth in positions two, three, and four throughout the first part of the race until Peterson was forced to pull off and return to paddock with mechanical issues. Ruman and the #23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette were quick to capitalize and moved up into second place, slowly building up a lead on Gregg and the #59 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette.
Ruman’s pace allowed her to begin to gain on Ave, until she spun out during the 31st lap of the race and made contact with the tire wall. Gregg moved up into second and continued to race with the consistency that has allowed him to land on the podium every race this year. He held onto the second place spot and did not relent until passing the finish line and taking one more step towards becoming a Trans Am champion. His total points now amount to 244 compared to Amy Ruman, who sits in second with 227. Based on expected entries for Sunday’s race Simon Gregg will clench the championship after completing one lap.
Ruman was able to continue in the race and would end up finishing second. She later related the race.
“It was pretty slick out there, and we spun out going through one of the turns. We had a good car, but there was some oil on the track and that made things a little more difficult. Maybe I was trying too hard and spun out because of that, you really have to monitor that looseness at high speeds. I’m not worrying about points, I’m just going to drive the car the best I can and hopefully finish a bit higher tomorrow.”
In TA2 defending champion Bob Stretch and the #06 Fix Rim Mobile Wheel Repair Chevrolet Camaro started on pole, but it was Kurt Roehrig who came out on top at the end of the race. Roehrig and the #04 Roehrig Enders Suspension Chevrolet Camaro started in third behind Stretch and Cameron Lawrence, driver of the #11 Ctek Battery Chargers/Allstar/Motorstate Chevrolet Camaro, but was able to put in consistent lap times throughout the race.
Stretch was the first to fall back after his left rear tire went flat and the pole setter was forced to pit in. Lawrence would then take the lead and hold it until the 21st lap when he spun out and was forced to pit in as well. He would return to track and challenge for the lead again but Roehrig was able to fend off the challenge until the end of the race as he finished first and pushed himself up to third in the TA2 points, behind only Stretch and Halsmer. Roehrig commented on his victory after the race.
“It was great, the car was very consistent and basically we just wore everyone down. We had Bob Stretch and Cameron Lawrence in front of us and they both ended up having some car trouble, but Cameron ended up coming back later in the race and then we started to push it and his car fell back a bit. We just had smooth and consistent lap times all race long, the breaks were great and I have to thank Tilton and PSE for that. We’re in the hunt for P3 in points and we’re on pole tomorrow so hopefully we can keep this up and finish the season on a high note.”
Lawrence would finish second while teammate Pete Halsmer finished third after putting in what many would consider a master class in road racing. The veteran started in dead last in the TA2 field after being penalized after his car came in under weight. He then had the misfortune of picking up a flat tire on the first lap of the race and had to pit in before ever really getting the chance to get going. The veteran proceeded to make up lost ground, pushing his way up through the ranks until finally overtaking Tom Sheehan for third.
In GGT Tim Gray came in first as the #60 Ryan Companies US Inc. Porsche GT-3 outlasted the rest of the field in what ended up being an endurance race. Nonetheless Gray was pleased with the results and hopes to make tomorrow his fourth win in four races.
“The field was in great shape, cars were aware of where everyone was and it was a clean race. I didn’t really have any issues today and that’s all you can ask for, it gave me a chance to capitalize and take the win. I got my lead and just held it, tomorrow will be my fourth race and hopefully my fourth win—so it’s a great starting point.”
The Trans Am field will take to the track once again tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. EST for the final race of the season. To keep up with the action visit www.gotransam.com, visit the series on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gotransam or follow the series on Twitter at @Gotransam.