Two days, two races and a whole lot of Trans Am
August 29, 2012
The Trans Am series will be returning to one of its legendary stomping grounds, Brainerd International, this weekend in the first leg of a series of two races per Trans Am event. 20% of all points available this season will be up for grabs at Brainerd alone—and between this weekend’s festivities and the series finale at Road Atlanta nearly half of the season’s points will be determined. Over the next two race weekends, the Trans Am series will see its new champions crowned and podium places will be in abundance. That means plenty of racing.
The pressure is on for current TA points leader Simon Gregg. For the entire year Gregg has been consistently successful. He and his #59 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette are yet to miss a podium and that success has earned him a 17 point lead over runner-up Amy Ruman. After posting victories at Lime Rock Park and Mid-Ohio, Gregg has held his lead despite surges from Tony Ave, Doug Peterson and Ruman.
Amy Ruman’s own podium streak came to an abrupt halt at Road America, where she was caught in the aftermath of a collision between Gregg and the #87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette of Doug Peterson. Ruman was able to return to the race after multiple pit stops and did finish, but the result only increased the gap between her and Gregg. However, with a good showing this weekend the #23 McNichols/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette may be poised to make a run at the championship.
Third in the points standing is a familiar face in the championship race, yet in many ways a surprise— given what has happened so far this season. Two-time defending champion Tony Ave is making a run at the championship, not just a year’s end podium placement.
After being stricken by a plague of mechanical failures throughout the first half of the season, Ave has comeback with a vengeance in his new #4 Lamers/PME Engines/RPX Chevrolet Corvette. Since retiring his previous car after Watkins Glen, Ave arrived with his new ride just in time for Road America, at which he promptly took first by a massive 25.5 seconds. If Ave can continue to perform at those levels the championship hunt just became a lot more interesting. Ave has also claimed victory here the last three times Trans Am has visited Brainerd.
The race will be on for the TA division championship as Cliff Ebben, Denny Lamers, Matt Crandall and Doug Peterson are all set to make an appearance. Peterson is only five points behind Ave and is well within the podium hunt.
In the TA2 class, Bob Stretch has a stranglehold on the points standing. The TA2 defending champion leads by 33 points and, baring any major shakeups, will be lifting the champion’s trophy once again. He and his #06 Fix Rim Mobile Wheel Repair Chevrolet Camaro won comfortably at Road America, reclaiming victory circle after a two-race absence. Stretch leads the Fix Rim Mobile Wheel Repair team consisting of Tom Sheehan, Geoff Fane and Mel Shaw. Together, they will be wanting more than just one podium spot this weekend.
While Stretch’s lead almost ensures him a podium spot at the end of the year, the other two for TA2 are wide open. Pete Halsmer, Kurt Roehrig, Michael Wilson, Tom Sheehan and Mel Shaw are all within 28 points of each other and each can realistically land both on the podium this weekend and come the end of the year.
Camercon Lawrence, Joe Sturm, Britt Casey, and Chris Liesfeld will round out the TA2 field, with Tim Gray and Chuck Cassaro appearing in GGT.
On Saturday September 1, the Trans Am weekend will start with practice at 8:00 am, followed by qualifying at 11:30 am and the race at 4:05 p.m. On Sunday September 2 practice will start at 10:30 am followed by the race at 3:45 pm.