Paul Fix runs the table at Lime Rock Park, Cameron Lawrence gives Dodge first TA2 win
September 20, 2014
SALISBURY, Conn. (Sept. 20, 2014) - After 100 miles around Lime Rock Park, Paul Fix was the victor of Round 9 of the 2014 Trans Am Championship, powering the No. 4 StopFlex.com/ Tony Ave Racing Chevrolet Corvette forward in a flag-to-flag victory in what was a dominant weekend for the New York native.
“I’ve been racing twice a year here since 1989,” said Fix. “I love this track, I love the area, and I think the short track format here suits me better than anything else— it was a perfect storm for me. We wanted to keep a good pace and get through the lapped traffic just to build a maintainable gap. I didn’t want to use up the tires or car but wanted to keep a safe distance. So we made our way through the field, decided on a time spread that worked for us and did our best to maintain it.”
Throughout the weekend Fix dominated from behind the wheel of the No. 4, leading every practice, setting the pole in qualifying, leading the race from start to finish and setting the quickest lap of the race, a 00:52.390— showcasing his talents and the Tony Ave Racing platform.
“Tony Ave gave me a great car,” said Fix. “We talked about setting it up for late race handling, but I figured if we had enough of a gap we wouldn’t need to worry about handling at the end. And that’s the way it worked out.”
Meanwhile, Cameron Lawrence returned to the top of the TA2 podium giving the Dodge Challenger its first ever TA2 win, only three races after the launch of the program, while simultaneously adding to his points lead in his pursuit of a repeat TA2 Championship from behind the wheel of the No. 1 Miller Racing Dodge Challenger.
“It has been great working with Dodge and putting a new make and model into the mix,” said Lawrence. “Together with Dodge we’ve completed the pony car trio with the Camaro, Challenger and Mustang. It’s been a lot of work; the guys have spent probably a week or two of all-nighters just thrashing on the car, trying to get it where we wanted it to be. And based off of our performance today, I’d say the car is getting close and we’re going to be fine-tuning from now on. But if Adam (Andretti) hadn’t run out of fuel, it could have been a completely different race.”
“Adding to the points lead was probably the biggest victory today. We need to get that gap back up to where it was. It’s been great getting Dodge onboard, but it has been a work in progress; and we’re under pressure to bring this Championship home. This is a huge win for us, Dodge, the team and our Championship chase. Getting Dodge it’s first win is a monumental accomplishment, and I’m happy for the whole Miller Racing team and all of SRT Motorsports.”
The race began much like it ended, with Fix on pole and leading the way. Alongside him was the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/McMahon Group Ford Mustang of Cliff Ebben, while defending TA Champion Doug Peterson, also of Tony Ave Racing and in the No. 87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette, started third.
Immediately after the green flag flew, Peterson jumped ahead of Ebben going into the first turn of the race, driving with the immediacy and determination that has helped him build a substantial lead in the TA points over the course of the 2014 Season.
During the seventh lap of the race, Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, made a move of his own, overtaking Ebben for third position. Later on, Peterson would begin to show tire rub, the consequence of minor contact on course, but was able to maintain the second place position up through the 46th lap of the race until both Gregg and Ebben were able to get past the defending champ as attrition finally set in on Peterson’s tires.
The top three in TA crossed the finish line in that order— with Fix taking the overall victory, Gregg finishing second and Ebben in third. Peterson would finish fourth while Kerry Hitt, in the No. 19 Advanced Composite Products Chevrolet Corvette, finished fifth.
Doug Peterson remains on course to capture his second Trans Am Championship with 257 points, a substantial lead of 39 over runner-up Simon Gregg with 218. Amy Ruman remains in third place in the Championship chase with 209 points, the result of another disappointing outing as the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette suffered a mechanical failure with 16 laps to go after working her way up to sixth position.
Meanwhile in TA2, Adam Andretti, in the No. 44 Engineered Components Chevrolet Camaro, started the day on pole for the TA2 class with Cameron Lawrence alongside and the No. 73 Mike Cope Racing Chevrolet Camaro of Kevin Poitras in third.
Quickly lapped traffic, a consequence of the multiclass platform, allowed Andretti and Lawrence to begin to create separation from the rest of the TA2 field, racing nose-to-tail throughout the first half of the race, while Kevin Poitras kept pace in third position further back.
On the 21st lap of the race Lawrence managed to get around Andretti, giving the Dodge Challenger its first ever lead in the TA2 class and Trans Am. The duo continued in close proximity until the course went under yellow; but after the restart Lawrence began to build a gap, what was found to be a consequence of fuel problems for the No. 44 of Andretti.
Soon Tommy Archer, in the No. 11 Miller Racing Dodge Challenger, filling in for Tommy Kendall, began to take advantage of Andretti’s misfortune, pushing his Challenger ahead past Kevin Poitras on the 40th lap of the race and moving into position behind Andretti, continuously closing the gap and eventually overtaking Andretti with only one lap to go, and crossing the finish line in second position giving Dodge a 1-2 atop the podium.
Andretti would just barely coast across the finish line, finishing third, followed closely by Gar Robinson, in the No. 64 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, in fourth in his first-ever Trans Am appearance and Joe Ebben, in the No. 14 Stumpf Ford/ Ford Mustang, in fifth.
Cameron Lawrence increased his points lead over Adam Andretti to 19 with a total of 262 to Andretti’s 243, setting up a climatic finish to the 2014 TA2 season at VIR and Daytona. Ron Keith remains in third position in the Championship chase with 188 points.
In TA3’s American Muscle Group, Ernie Francis, Jr., won his fourth race of the season, putting the No. 9 Breathless Performance Chevrolet Camaro atop the podium as he continues his pursuit of a TA3 Championship.
Francis began the day in the front of the TA3 class but wanted to make sure the team left Lime Rock Park with important points in tow.
“Coming into this race we wanted to set the bar high,” said Francis. “We wanted that pole, we wanted the victory and we wanted to walk away with a comfortable gap, because in these two final races, anything can happen. At the same time, we wanted to preserve the car and make sure we are going into Round 10 next weekend in good shape, ready to race.”
Following Francis past the checkered flag was two-time defending TA3 Champion Chuck Cassaro, in the No. 76 StackData/Aeromotive/Metallica Ford Mustang, in second and Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Tremec/SKF/Backstreet Performance Chevrolet Camaro in third.
TA3’s International Group was the site of the ongoing Championship battle between Jason Berkeley, in the No. 67 BMG Management Chevrolet Corvette, and Norm Betts, in the No. 82 Hoosier/VP Fuels Chevrolet Corvette; and while Berkeley came away victorious, he and the team of the No. 67 Corvette have plenty of work to do heading into the next two races.
“We’re going to see what we can do over these next few races,” said Berkeley. “We need to get the car back into shape, but it’s going to be a tough job. We ran pretty strong in the first half of the race, but we had an issue with the left rear, so we ended up playing it conservative and ending up being able to bring first place home. We’re going to get to work on the car and do our best to have it in shape for the rest of the season.”
Francis increased his points lead to 25 over Cassaro, with 248 points to the defending Champion’s 223. Meanwhile Napieralski solidified third position with 209 points. Despite his victory Berkeley remains a single point behind Betts going into the final two races of the year, as the two drivers both reach for their first-ever Trans Am Championship in Trans Am’s tightest Championship race.
Trans Am will return to action next weekend with Round 10 of the 2014 Trans Am Championship at Virginia International Raceway, on Sunday, September 28; and drivers and teams alike set their sights on one of the final opportunities for Trans Am points and glory in 2014.