Trans Am Series ready for Brainerd challenge, Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic
June 30, 2017
Series set for 26th appearance on “survivor’s course”
BRAINERD, Minn. [June 29, 2017] – For years, Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) has stood as a unique challenge for competitors in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli, just as it will this weekend, July 1-2; as the Series makes its annual pilgrimage north for the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic, marking Trans Am’s 26th appearance on the Minnesota track.
BIR stands apart from the rest of the Trans Am schedule; it’s not a traditional road racing heritage track frequented by a multitude of series like Road America, Virginia International Raceway, Mid-Ohio or Sebring, nor an icon like Daytona, Indianapolis or Circuit of The Americas. No, Brainerd stands alone, something unique to the Trans Am Series and a challenge in the way of all championship competitors.
Veterans of the Series know well the 2.5 miles and 13 turns and the changing track conditions and infamous Brainerd sand. Years ago, Brainerd was labeled a survivor’s course, giving way to the drivers best able to adjust to the ever-changing challenges it presents on a given day, hour or minute. That title still holds true today.
This weekend, 30 Trans Am competitors will tackle Brainerd, sand, heat and all, for 100-miles— their eyes on Trans Am silverware and crucial points towards their respective championships.
In the TA class, Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 Buoniconti Fund Ford Mustang, enters the weekend with momentum in every sense of the word. With four consecutive wins, three poles and a commanding 35-point lead, Francis has quickly set the tone for the TA Championship chase this year—his time in TA4 and the transition now almost a footnote, as he’s become the driver to beat.
Tasked with that challenge are Vinnie Allegretta, in the No. 41 TA Sights & Sounds Chevrolet Corvette, currently in the midst of a career year, and two-time defending champion Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, who will be hoping the plague of mechanical issues that have dampened her season thus far are finally behind her. Allegretta currently sits second in the points; and Ruman, despite her troubles, holds third.
A surprise entry comes in the form of a two-time TA class champion, with Tony Ave, in the No. 8 Ave Motorsports/ Lamers Chevrolet Corvette, making his first TA class appearance since 2015. Over the course of Ave’s TA career, he has amassed 16 class wins, including four at Brainerd.
Also featuring in the TA field will be Jeff Hinkle, Kerry Hitt, Simon Gregg and BIR owner Jed Copham as well, making his third annual Trans Am appearance.
In TA2, Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, heads to BIR on the backs of two consecutive victories at Detroit and Indianapolis, with the confidence that comes with having captured a victory here in Minnesota last year.
The only other entered TA2 competitors with victories at BIR will have their hands full this weekend. Cameron Lawrence, driving the No. 19 Class Auto Centers Chevrolet Camaro, the 2014 victor, and Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, the 2015 victor, will both be pulling double duty this weekend as they compete in the Continental Tire Series at Watkins Glen International as well. Both drivers will undertake the logistical nightmare of taking both green flags as they continue their own TA2 championship chases.
The challenge will continue for Lawrence, who will also be fielding the No. 6 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, in the TA class as well—boosting his tally to three races in a single weekend.
Robinson’s teammate Shane Lewis, also in attendance in the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila, 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, put on a show in Indianapolis with a dead last to podium finish drive that saw him move from 25th to 3rd over the 100-mile race. Lewis currently stands third in the points, following Robinson and Machavern, and can edge towards closing that gap with a strong finish this weekend.
The Mike Cope Racing Enterprises contingent will also be in attendance, with defending champ Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Bestline Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang, ready to right a disappointing outing at Indianapolis that saw his day end early with a mechanical failure. Also featuring under the Cope tent will be Lawrence Loshak, Machavern, Keith Prociuk and Matt Parent.
The TA2 field will feature two Minnesota-based drivers, series veteran Tim Gray, in the No. 60 Ryan Companies US Inc Ford Mustang out of Eden Prairie, and debutant Shannon Ivey, in the No. 12 Hawk Performance Dodge Challenger of Rogers. Ivey also stands as an instructor at BIR’s performance driving school.
The TA3 class will feature an intriguing mix of American and European built performance machines, all in pursuit of points leader Mark Boden, in the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports/ Calypso Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Randy Kinsland, in the No. 11 Kinsland Racing Chevrolet Corvette, currently holds second in the points, just 10 shy of Boden after a somewhat disappointing Indianapolis outing that saw Kinsland finish outside the podium for the first time all season. BIR provides Kinsland the perfect opportunity to rebound and continue his championship chase.
Boden will be joined by a full Fall-Line contingent, with Tim Kezman, in the No. 4 Fall-Line Motorsports/ Calypso Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, and Tom Herb, in the No. 16 Fall-Line Motorsports/ Calypso Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, both cemented inside the TA3 championship top five.
Cindi Lux, in the No. 41 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper ACRX, is also entered, returning to the site of her only Trans Am win, despite five career podium appearances. Lux was the 2015 TA3 winner, in what was her Trans Am debut. Joining Lux will be teammate and Trans Am debutant Dirk Leuenberger, in the No. 35 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper ACRX.
The TA4 class will feature a battle between the father-son duo of JR Pesek, in the No. 10 Rennsport KC Ford Mustang, and James Pesek, in the No. 00 Rennsport KC Ford Mustang, and Trans Am veteran Mel Shaw, in the No. 22 Bay Commercial Group LLC Chevrolet Camaro.
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will feature two 40-lap, 100-mile races, the TA, TA3 and TA4 multi-class Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic and TA2 exclusive Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge.
Fans can follow the action throughout the weekend at www.gotransam.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gotransam and on Twitter at @gotransam.
Advance tickets may be purchased at a discounted rate online at www.gotransam.com/events, at www.brainerdraceway.com, or by phone at 1-866-444-4455. Camping is available; children under the age of 12 are free. Tickets may be purchased at the gate as well.
Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic Schedule:
Saturday July 1, 2017
9:00 am – 9:30 am TA2 Practice 1
9:30 am – 10:00 am TA/TA3/TA4 Practice 1
11:30 am –12:00 pm TA2 Practice 2
12:00 pm – 12:30 pm TA/TA3/TA4 Practice 2
2:30 pm – 2:50 pm TA2 Qualifying
2:50 pm – 3:10 pm TA Qualifying
3:10 pm – 3:30 pm TA3/TA4 Qualifying
Sunday July 2, 2017
11:00 am – 12:15 pm Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge
2:30 pm – 3:45 pm Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic
*all times Central Daylight
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 will be broadcast, tape delayed, on CBS Sports Network.
Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic (TA, TA3, TA4) – Jul 22, 12:00pm ET
Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge (TA2) – Aug 05, 12:00pm ET
About Ryan Companies US, Inc.
Founded in 1938, Ryan Companies offers comprehensive commercial real estate services as a national developer, architect, capital investment consultant, builder and real estate manager with a focus on bringing lasting value to its customers and the communities in which it works. Ryan market depth includes retail, industrial, healthcare and senior living. Ryan development and corporate build-to-suit work spans a wide range of product types including office, mixed-use, hospitality, multifamily housing and mission critical facilities. Ryan has nearly 1,300 employees in 13 offices and has completed projects in 38 states. For more information, visit ryancompanies.com.
About the Trans Am Series, presented by Pirelli:
The Trans Am Series, presented by Pirelli, began igniting the passion of motorsports fans across the world in 1966 and has been home to some of the greatest names in road racing. Today, Trans Am continues to honor its legacy, while challenging the status quo in racing, through meaningful racing platforms and a driver-oriented focus. The Trans Am Series is operated by The Trans Am Race Company, LLC (TARC), and oversees the management and marketing of the Trans Am Series, presented by Pirelli. SCCA Pro Racing sanctions Trans Am events and provides operations services to the Series.
Defending Champions include: Amy Ruman (TA), Tony Buffomante (TA2), Randy Mueller (TA3) and Ernie Francis, Jr. (TA4).
For more on the Series visit www.gotransam.com, “like” Trans Am on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gotransam, or follow Trans Am on Twitter @gotransam