Tony Ave takes pole position for season opener and sets track record
March 2, 2013
Tony Ave and the #4 Lamers/PME Engines Chevrolet Corvette led all participants in today’s qualifying session of the Trans Am Series opener at Sebring International Raceway. Ave was quick to put in a lap of 1:59.307 and topped out at 111.64 miles per hour. His lap was a TA track record and will land him starting position in Sunday’s race.
Right behind Ave was teammate Doug Peterson. Peterson, in the #87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette, logged a time of 2:00.429. Ave and Peterson’s efforts mean that they, as teammates, will start side-by-side for the 100-mile race.
Both Ave and Peterson were successful in the 2012 season, as team they won a total of five races in the ten-race season. They also combined for ten podium placments. Now as the team heads into the 2013 season, they seem to be picking up right where they left off.
“We build the best cars and have the best engines.” Said Ave, when asked about his team’s success. “We’ve been fast here; we’ve tested here quite a bit. My next lap was going to be even quicker than the one I posted but we went under red and I was pretty bummed out. Still, we got the track record and I’m pretty excited about it.”
“There’s nothing better than working with Tony Ave.” Said Peterson. “First of all, he’s a super guy. Mr. and Mrs. Ave, both senior and junior, are just great. The crew all get along really well and when they say the car is ready—the car is ready. I never have to second-guess anything on the car. I just have to go out and drive.”
Behind Ave and Peterson will start defending TA champion Simon Gregg and the #1 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette. If Gregg is able to pull of a victory, he’ll joining his father, Peter Gregg, as being the only father/son duo to have won in Trans Am at Sebring.
Gregg’s time of 2:01.572 was just enough to edge Cliff Ebben, in the #36 McMahon Group/Stumpf Ford Ford Mustang, and Amy Ruman, in the #23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, who put in times of 2:01.647 and 2:01.650. Ruman finished just behind Gregg in the 2012 points standing and will be sure to be in the mix come the last lap of the race.
In TA2, 20-year-old Cameron Lawrence proved that Sebring truly is his home track. Lawrence and the #11 Ctek/Motorstate/North Star Battery Chevrolet Camaro put in a time of 2:10.711, beating out runner-up Robert Huffmaster, defending TA2 champion Bob Stretch and teammate Pete Halsmer for lead position for the TA2 class.
Lawrence, along with Pete Halsmer, is a member of Miller Racing—owned and operated by Mike Miller. Miller was quick to offer praise to Lawrence and his team.
“Well, he’s just so gifted and talented, it’s hard to predict just how good he can be.” Said Miller, as he commented on his driver. “He was out there in practice saying, 'I know I can run a 2:12 but I think I can run a 2:10.' And we were thinking, wow, that’d be pretty quick here. Then he rips off a ten in qualifying, and that’s pretty amazing. We’ve got a second driver, Pete Halsmer, who is fourth in the group. It’s hard to believe that Cam would be in front of Pete. But Cameron has really come along with the car, he’s communicating with the crew and letting us know what he needs done to make the car right for him. He and Pete work together really well. It’s just great to be here experiencing this with them.”
Lawrence was quick to return praise when asked about both the team and working with the veteran Pete Halsmer.
“Mr. Miller and all the guys who work for him just give me the best car there is. They go through it before every race and every session and I know it’ll be the best car they can give me. It handles like it’s on rails right now. Pete’s worked with me on that. Having Pete around does so much, he knows everything about the car; I’m still kind of new to this, but having Pete really helps with the learning curve—when we do something to the car he knows exactly what the result will be and having him here helping me does so much.”
Behind Lawrence will be Trans Am rookie Robert Huffmaster and the #27 Kryderracing/VirSec Chevrolet Camaro making his first appearance in Trans Am and first visit to Sebring.
“We’ve put in a lot of work.” Said Huffmaster. “We’ve test this car and I’ve talked with a lot of people who are a lot more experienced than I with these cars. We came here with a great setup, that helped right away. We took it out on test day and made some adjustments, but we had a great starting point. I’ve learned that once you learn the car the track comes pretty easy.”
“I think these cars are really cool.” Continued Huffmaster when asked about the TA2 class. “They’re super fast and it looks like we’ll have a really competitive field so we’ll see how it goes and if we all play nice in the race or not.”
In TA3 David Seuss and the #9 Northern Light Prosche 996 will be in the lead position. Seuss has 30 Trans Am starts to his name and one win from his two appearances in TA3, then GGT, last year. He’ll have to fend off challenges from Tim Gray, Chuck Cassaro and Rob Bodle if he wants to add a second victory to his total.