Tony Ave turns in dominant performance at Road America
August 17, 2012
Tony Ave finally got it right at Road America. After a long and lengthy absence from the podium due to an unprecedented spree of mechanical issues, the two time defending champion retired his prior car and marched into the Trans Am field with a brand new #4 Lamers/PME Engines/RPX Chevrolet Corvette. The new car gave the resident speed demon the reliability he needed, allowing him to propel into an early lead after starting fourth. The victory also moved Ave into third in the points standing, passing teammate Doug Peterson.
Ave was extremely pleased with the performance of his new car, and even more pleased to be back on the podium:
“I'm great! Especially with this new car we built, this thing is so fast, I can’t wait to take it to the upcoming races. We’ve been updating the cars as we’ve gone and now we’ve built one from the ground up with all the new stuff and we just couldn’t be happier, the car was just way faster than I was going. I’ve worked hard for years on making cars get these tires to fire fast for qualifying laps, so now we’ve got a system that does that and keeps them going for the entire race. So that’s good news for us moving forward.”
Ave and crew are hoping that this race will be the jumpstart that they need to finish the season on a high note, and hopefully the championship podium:
“We’ve got a chance for a lot of points with these double headers. Brainerd will be a tough test, that’s a survivor’s track up there, but we’ve won three in a row there so hopefully we’ll keep it going. It will be a good test for reliability. We want to win, we want to finish strong and I hope we will.”
After Ave took the lead, it quickly became apparent that barring catastrophe he was not going to relinquish it. The real action took place in battle for second and third. Current points leader Simon Gregg started on pole but was unable to fend of furious charges from Peterson, Ave and Amy Ruman. However, Gregg has been the image of reliability this year, he’s finish on the podium every race and was not about to disappoint. Gregg and his #59 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette ended up in third, holding his points lead.
The first real battle of the race was between Gregg, Doug Peterson and Amy Ruman. When Gregg and Peterson’s #87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette came into contact on the fifth lap, Peterson spun out and Ruman’s #23 McNichols Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette was left with nowhere to go. The collision sent Ruman to the pits and knocked her out of the podium race. Ruman remains second in the points standing.
The race was a special one for Lamers’ Racing, as it marked the return of Cliff Ebben to Trans Am. After a disastrous incident at the season opener as Mosport, a fully healed Ebben made his comeback in the #36 McMahon Group Stumpf Ford Ford Mustang and ended up on the podium. He started in tenth position, but through a constant effort and consistent lap times made his way up to second, a position he held for the race.
Ebben has now split the last four victories with Ave, and was extrodinaraly humble after his victory:
“We had a lot of luck today, it’s great to be back. I started racing here in 73, at Road America, and this is our home track. I just feel extremely lucky to place, things worked out for us. Really it’s just great to be back after the driveshaft incident. I just feel extremely lucky and am humbled by our success.”
Bob Stretch had a return to glory of his own, despite being the points leader for the duration of the year, he has also been plagued by issues over the past two races. The 2011 TA2 champion started in the lead for TA2 and held that position for the duration of the race, fending off the likes of Halsmer, Lawrence and Kurt Roehrig.
Stretch was particularly pleased with the performance of his #06 Fix Rim Mobile Wheel Repair Chevrolet Camaro. A brand new car that the team had not had the opportunity to really test due to rain prior to race day.
“We’ve worked really hard on the car and the changes we’ve made have finally paid off. My crew has done awesome work, I wish we had more time but that’s why it’s such a big victory. We worked as hard as we could, we never got a chance to test it so yes, my crew was outstanding.”
Stretch now holds a commanding point lead and with this victory all but secured his place on top coming to the end of this year. Following Stretch was 20 year old Cameron Lawrence, who recently joined the Miller Racing Team. In his #11 Ctek Battery Chargers Motorstate Chevrolet Camaro Lawrence rallied from his starting position, seventh in TA2, to take and hold second place on the podium.
Chris Liesfeld came in third in TA2 in his #96 Hobart Service Hertz Chevrolet Camaro. It was his first podium placement of the year.
Chuck Cassaro, in his #76 Cassaro Enterprises Midwest Council Panoz GTS claimed, victory in the GGT class, giving him the point lead for the year.
The weekend also marked a victory for the Trans Am series. With a 26 car field, the series established itself as growing and on the rise. The field was Trans Am’s largest of the year.
The series will now head into a schedule of double-header weekends at Brainerd International Raceway on August 31st and Road Atlanta on November 2nd. Both events will feature two races with 40 percent of the year’s points up for grabs.
Additional coverage throughout the event may be found at www.gotransam.com, @Gotransam on Twitter and www.facebook.com/gotransam