Trans Am Arrives at Watkins Glen International
September 5, 2018
Series set for two races alongside SVRA and US Vintage Grand Prix
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. [September 5, 2018] – With only four rounds remaining in the 2018 Trans Am Championship presented by Pirelli, Trans Am competitors and teams now make their way to iconic Watkins Glen International for a weekend-long celebration of American motorsport alongside SVRA and the US Vintage Grand Prix, September 6-9.
With the season’s conclusion rapidly approaching, it is make-or-break time for numerous Trans Am competitors vying for regional cups, year-end podium finishes and even championships. Now, Watkins Glen’s 3.40-mile Grand Prix course will be the site of another round of Trans Am action, featuring the TA, TA3 and TA4 classes in Saturday’s multi-class Trans Am 100 and the TA2 class in Sunday’s Watkins Glen Muscle Car Challenge powered by AEM. Both competitions will span 102-miles, 70 laps around the iconic circuit.
Following a tumultuous Road America, Ernie Francis, Jr., will be ready to rebound from behind the wheel of the No. 98 Frameless Shower Doors Ford Mustang. A practice day incident at Road America sidelined the No. 98, leaving Francis in a backup car, turning minimal laps in the interest of maintaining the points lead.
Still, Francis’ strong early season performances this year were not without their spoils, with the four wins and two additional podium finishes affording the defending TA champ some margin for error. Now, he and the repaired No. 98 enter the weekend with a 37-point lead over current standings runner-up Chris Dyson, in the No. 20 Plaid Crafts Ford Mustang.
This weekend will mark a full year since Dyson made his Trans Am debut, piloting the No. 57 Cadillac CTS-V of David Pintaric in one-off capacity. In early 2018, Dyson would form his own CD Racing team and declare for the full Trans Am Championship. Now the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., resident will hope his home track experience at Watkins Glen will pay off in the wake of a strong second place finish at Road America.
Four points behind Dyson stands Lawrence Loshak, in the No. 2 Pennzoil/ ETE Reman/ GoShare Chevrolet Camaro. Loshak seemed primed to capitalize on Francis’ misfortune at Road America, setting pole and leading early on in the race before debris caused a power steering failure, sidelining Loshak early. Still, the No. 2 has had plenty of pace throughout the past several events and a strong finish to 2018 is within reach for the Burtin Racing Team.
David Pintaric, in the 57 Cadillac CTS-V, is well within striking distance of a top three finish as well, with 157 points— five behind Loshak. Pintaric set pole at Watkins Glen in 2013, the first and only of his Trans Am career.
Other past Trans Am champions in TA class action at WGI include Road America victor Boris Said, in the No. 21 Monster Energy/ Weaver Concepts Dodge Challenger, who is yet to qualify outside the top three; Tomy Drissi, in the No. 8 The Predator Chevrolet Camaro; and Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette.
Paul Fix, racing out of nearby Williamsville, N.Y., will pilot the No. 4 StopFlex/ Car Coach/ Ave Racing Ford Mustang aiming to break a frustrating streak of results following strong qualifying efforts.
Also making their debut for the season will be the Monette Racing Group duo of Bob and Zach Monette, in the No. 12 and 96 Optech Monette Ford Mustangs.
In the TA2 class, points leader Rafa Matos and the No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro arrive at Watkins Glen with a 32-point lead over 2016 class champion Tony Buffomante, last year’s race victor.
Road America marked the first event of the 2018 season in which neither Matos nor Buffomante featured on the TA2 podium, with the No. 88 finishing fifth and Buffomante’s No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang 17th after being contacted from behind by lapped traffic towards the race’s close.
Now at Watkins Glen both drivers will look for a return to the podium but will have to contend with an additional 21 TA2 competitors, all with the same goal in mind. While this year will mark Matos’ first TA2 appearance at Watkins Glen, Buffomante has proven speed around the WGI circuit with the aforementioned 2017 victory and a 2016 pole to his name.
Jordan Bupp, in the No. 80 Bupp Motorsports Ford Mustang, and Scott Lagasse, Jr., in the No. 95 SLR/ Fields/ M1 Fastrack Chevrolet Camaro, have both featured heavily at the top of the Trans Am charts this season—greatly improving upon results from past seasons with Bupp currently residing third in the championship points and Lagasse on a streak of three consecutive podium finishes.
Joining Matos under the Coleman Motorsports tent will be Doug Peterson, in the No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Ford Mustang, and the aforementioned Boris Said, in the No. 89 3-Dimensional Services Chevrolet Camaro, making his first career TA2 start.
Likewise, the Mike Cope Racing stables will also feature Keith Prociuk, in the No. 9 HP Tuners Chevrolet Camaro, and the No. 14 Mike Cope Ford Mustang of Matt Parent, entered alongside Buffomante.
Stevens-Miller Racing will be in action with current TA2 Rookie of The Year frontrunner Ethan Wilson, in the No. 49 Berryman/ Prefix Dodge Challenger; veteran TA2 competitor Peter Klutt, in the No. 77 Legendary Motorcar.com/ Prefix Ford Mustang; and Brian Swank, fresh off his TA2 debut at Mid-Ohio in the No. 11 Royal Flush/ Prefix Dodge Challenger.
Napoleon Motorsports returns to TA2 action after a two-race absence with the three-car lineup of Justin Napoleon, Joe Napoleon and Shane Lewis in the No. 29, 91 and 92 Turn Key Industries/ Surphis Chevrolet Camaros.
Harry Steenbakkers will make his season debut in the No. 25 BC Race Cars/ Ottawa West Development Chevrolet Camaro alongside teammate Michael McGahern.
Trans Am’s production contingent will feature 16 cars across the TA3 and TA4 classes and will race alongside the TA class come Saturday’s race.
TA3 points leader Alline Cipriani, in the No. 60 Ginetta G55, is yet to top the class podium this season, but her consistency throughout the year sees her enter the Watkins Glen weekend with a 27-point lead over last year’s champion Mark Boden, also in attendance in the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche 991 GT3-Cup.
Boden enters the weekend with two wins and two additional podium finishes to his name; and teammate Thomas Herb, in the No. 16 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche 991 GT3 Cup, will look to defend last year’s Fall-Line victory at Watkins Glen, logged by their absent teammate Tim Kezman.
After sitting out Road America, Dave Ricci, currently third in the TA3 championship points, will return from behind the wheel of the No. 71 Breathless Racing Chevrolet Camaro, his first Trans Am appearance at Watkins Glen.
After capturing two spots on the TA3 podium at Road America, the Lux Performance Group duo of Cindi Lux, in the No. 45 Lux Performance Dodge Viper, and Dirk Leuenberger, in the No. 35 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper, will return to action at Watkins Glen. Lux enters the competition riding a three-race podium streak, while Leuenberger comes off a career best third place last round; Lux also set pole at Watkins Glen for TA3 in 2017.
2015 TA3 champion Lee Saunders, in the No. 84 V10 Power Racing Dodge Viper, will return to Trans Am racing for the first time this year, while Don McMillon, in the No. 51 Salasko Racing Chevrolet Corvette, will also make his season debut.
The DWW Motorsports team of Brian Kleeman, in the No. 07 DWW/ Racetech/ Expoit Ford Mustang Boss, and Chris Outzen in the No. 09 DWW/ itrackzone/ PFC Ford Mustang will continue their transition from TA4 to TA3 class competition along with the development of their pair of FP350s Ford Mustangs. Kleeman won TA4 class competition last year at Watkins Glen and also set pole.
In TA4, points leader Warren Dexter, in the No. 61 Joe’s Hand Cleaner/ Dexter Racing Ginetta G55, is seeking his fifth consecutive victory.
Vying to break the No. 61’s streak will be the TPR team of Bill Baten, in the No. 38 Priority Communications/ Van Winkle Baten Chevrolet Camaro, and Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Chevrolet Performance/ SKF/ BSP Chevrolet Camaro.
Steven Davison, in the No. 22 DAVinci Plastic Surgery/ Aston Washington DC Aston Martin, currently resides second in the TA4 points to Dexter and will also feature.
Both Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli races at Watkins Glen International will feature in a weekend recap show on CBS Sports Network, Sunday September 23 at 2:00 PM ET.
Fans can keep up with the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli throughout the event at www.gotransam.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gotransam and on Twitter at @gotransam.
2017 Trans Am Series at Watkins Glen:
Winners: Andy Lally (TA), Tony Buffomante (TA2), Tim Kezman (TA3), Brian Kleeman (TA4)
Pole Sitters: Andy Lally (TA), Jason Hart (TA2), Cindi Lux (TA3), Brian Kleeman (TA4)
Trans Am Event Schedule:
Thursday September 6, 2018
5:00 PM – 5:25 PM TA/TA3/TA4 Practice
Friday September 7, 2018
12:00 PM – 12:30 PM TA2 Practice
5:30 PM – 5:47 PM TA Qualifying
5:52 PM – 6:10 PM TA3/TA4 Qualifying
Saturday September 8, 2018
10:55 AM – 11:15 AM TA2 Practice
11:20 AM – 12:30 PM TA, TA3 and TA4 Race
4:25 PM – 4:45 PM TA2 Qualifying
Sunday September 9, 2018
10:55 AM – 12:10 PM TA2 Race Powered by AEM
all times Eastern Daylight
Trans Am’s races at Watkins Glen will be broadcast, tape delayed, on CBS Sports Network:
Watkins Glen International Trans Am Recap – September 23, 2:00 PM ET
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.