Ruman’s reign continues with Foametix 100 victory at Road Atlanta
May 9, 2015
Lawrence secures TA2 victory with last-lap pass, Francis, Jr., Saunders win in TA3
BRASELTON, Ga. (May 9, 2015) – As Trans Am made history with an all-time record entry of 74 cars in a two-race showcase, The Foametix Trans Am 100 and the Foametix Muscle Car Challenge at Road Atlanta, Amy Ruman and Cameron Lawrence stole the show in very different ways as they each captured their third victories of the year in the TA and TA2 classes respectively. For Ruman, it was a dominant performance, a driver’s clinic from behind the wheel of the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette; for Lawrence, a last lap come-from-behind victory in the No. 1 MOPAR Dodge Challenger in TA2.
Ruman began the race in second position, behind pole-sitter Paul Fix, in the No. 4 Stopflex.com/TheCarCoach.com Chevrolet Corvette; but after taking the lead during the fourth lap of the race, Ruman never looked back—at times leading by as much as 7.5 seconds. The victory was Ruman’s fourth in a row, as she now increases her lead atop the TA class Championship point standings.
“This streak has been amazing, but we don’t want to get over confident. It’s a long season,” said Ruman. “You never know how Trans Am can turn out. I’m just counting my blessings and taking it one race at a time. We were blessed to win this race today, and this McNichols team has been incredible all season, giving me great car after great car. Thank you to everyone at Foametix for helping put on a great event and a great race. This win is for my mom, so happy Mother’s Day to her. I’m so excited, and we’re going to carry this momentum into Lime Rock in a week and a half.”
Paul Fix would finish second in the TA class, while teammate and two-time defending TA Class Champion Doug Peterson, in the No. 87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette, finished third. John Baucom, in the No. 86 Roadraceparts.com/Baucom Motorsports Ford Mustang, and Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, would round out the top five in fourth and fifth.
Unlike Ruman, Lawrence battled throughout the TA2 top three in the Foametix Muscle Car Challenge, an independent TA2 race, running second to Dillon Machavern for much of the latter half. It look a last-lap gasp by Lawrence and a touch of misfortune on the part of rookie Machavern, driver of the No. 24 UniFirst/PPG/Ford Mustang, to make it so. Machavern entered the final lap of the race in first position with Lawrence right behind; unfortunately for Machavern, the rear end went on the No. 24 causing him to lose pace and allowing Lawrence to pass between turns six and seven for the lead.
“We never really had, or at least I didn’t think we had, the pace to win all weekend,” said Lawrence. “We had some issues in practice with the power steering and the transmission, and the team worked really hard to prep the car as well as they did. This was a battle though; we didn’t get to run out-front much. We were running second and third—just dogging the guys ahead of us. There’s nothing left in the car, and we were lucky Dillon had some issues at the end of the race. We were almost ready to settle for second. Dillon drove an amazing race and probably deserved that win but, unfortunately, things happen—but I imagine he’ll get a win soon enough.”
Machavern was able to maintain the No. 24 across the finish line to capture second place—solid compensation for an incredibly strong showing in what was his third race of his rookie year. Fellow rookie Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 74 Ranch Chevrolet Camaro, would take third for his second podium of the year. Pole sitter Adam Andretti, in the No. 44 Engineered Components Chevrolet Camaro, would finish fourth; while Shane Lewis, driver of the No. 72 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, took home fifth.
In the TA3 race, Trans Am’s production based class running along side TA in the Foametix Trans Am 100, defending Champion Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 Breathless Performance Chevrolet Camaro, emerged victorious in the American Muscle Group; while Lee Saunders, in the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper, won the International Group—his third podium in a row and second victory of the year.
Francis would lead the American Muscle group from start to finish. The victory was Francis’ first of the year and marks a return to form for the defending Champion after a disappointing start to 2015.
“The beginning of this season didn’t start they way we planned,” said Francis. “We had some bad luck but it seems like we’ve turned it around. This first win is important to us; we need to keep on building momentum for these next couple of races. We’ll start getting ready for Lime Rock, do some setup changes—it’s going to be a very different race; it’s a lower speed course with a lot of right-handers, but we’re going to be looking for the same result.”
Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Tremec/SKF/Backstreet Performance would finish second in the American Muscle Group for his third consecutive podium; while Thomas Ellis, in the No. 00 Palm Express/Averitt/Steeda Ford Mustang, finished third.
Lee Saunders began the International Group race in second position behind Randy Mueller, in the No. 0 MCM/Bimmerworld/Redline/MCS/PFC BMW M3; however, when the No. 0 was forced to yield due to mechanical issues Saunders inherited the lead, one that he never relinquished.
“There was plenty of traffic out there,” said Saunders. “But everyone raced a clean race; we kept busy avoiding the TA cars and in the end we were lucky, but better lucky than good—we’ll take the victory, and I’m very pleased to have it.”
Defending TA3 International Champion Jason Berkeley, in the No. 67 BMG Management Chevrolet Corvette, captured second in the group; while Jerry Greene, in the No. 93 Temp Air Porsche 996 GT3 took third.
The Foametix Trans Am Muscle Car Challenge
The Foametix Muscle Car Challenge featured the largest TA2 class in Trans Am history with 38 cars taking the green flag behind pole sitter Adam Andretti with Lawrence in second, Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Bestline Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang, starting third, Machavern in fourth and Lewis in fifth. However, green racing was delayed as the track immediately went under a full course yellow with two cars stranded on the front straight.
After the two cars were removed, green racing continued with multiple battles going on throughout the top ten with both Machavern and Tony Ave, driving the No. 70 Lamers Motor Racing Ford Mustang, surging forward two spots each as they reshuffled the top five. However, it was Lawrence who took the lead on the 11th lap as Andretti fell back to third with Machavern claiming second. The top three continued in that order while Ave battled with Robinson, Lewis and Buffomante within the top five.
On the 23rd lap of the race Machavern moved ahead of Lawrence for the lead, and the duo began the nose-to-tail race that would consume much of the final half of the race. Behind them, Gar Robinson moved into third place as the top ten began to spread out and race attrition began to set in. Andretti found himself battling with the No. 34 of Buffomante for fourth position, a battle he eventually won as the No. 34 was forced to enter the pits. Shane Lewis would subsequently fend off the No. 99 BraunAbility Chevrolet Camaro of JJ Haley for fifth position, claiming the second of two top-five positions for Robinson Racing.
Machavern led Lawrence past the white flag for the final lap of the race; however, to the benefit of Lawrence and misfortune of Machavern, the rear-end on the No. 24 Mustang broke on the back end of the course as the two drivers raced side-by-side, giving Lawrence the advantage. The defending Champion wasted no time capitalizing on Machavern’s misfortune and moving ahead for the victory on the final lap.
Lawrence’s victory is his third on the year and his fourth in a row behind the wheel of the No. 1 MOPAR Dodge Challenger
Foametix Trans Am 100
The Foametix Trans Am 100 featured both the TA and TA3 class, as the Trans Am Series once more took to the course for the second time on the day. Paul Fix began the race on pole with Ruman in second position, and Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon Group Ford Mustang, in third position. The top three did shuffle, however all of those changes took place in the first five laps of the race with Ruman overtaking Fix for the lead on lap four and Doug Peterson overtaking Ebben and then John Baucom for third position—from there on out the top three remained in that order.
Ruman continued to put on a master class behind the wheel of the No. 23 McNichols Corvette, turning consistent lap times, despite traffic, throughout the race, including a race-best fast lap of 1:22.610.
David Pintaric, in the No. 57 Kryderacing Chevrolet Corvette, spend much of the race battling with the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette of Simon Gregg over fifth position, with Pintaric passing Gregg on the fifth lap of the race only to have the favor returned with only two laps to go—a position that Gregg held to conclusion.
Ruman crossed the finish line with a 6.376 second lead over Fix, as she secured an increase in her already substantial early season points lead with 102 points secured over three races, a near maximum tally. In turn, Fix’s second place finish would increase his own tally, as he moves into second in the point standings with a total of 81, while Peterson moved up to third in points with a total of 71.
The TA3 class began with Randy Mueller leading the 20-car field, and the International Group, past the green flag while Ernie Francis, Jr., led the way for the American Muscle Group.
The American Muscle Group held a contested, if not incredibly busy, race, with the top four remaining intact from start to finish with Napieralski, Ellis, and Chris DeSalvo, in the No. 61 Baucom Motorsports Ford Mustang, all following Francis from start to finish.
In the International Group, Mueller held a commanding lead until lap 16 when he was forced to pull off to the side, his day ended by a mechanical failure. Saunders capitalized by taking the lead, with Jerry Greene moving up into second.
However, it was defending Champion Jason Berkeley who mounted a charge forward after starting the race in dead last, the result of a missed qualifying session due to mechanical issues. Berkeley’s crew had worked through the night to get the No. 67 on track for today’s race.
With car intact, Berkeley moved up through the field jumping two positions in the first two laps then three more over the next five, before moving into the top three for the rest of the race and ultimately securing a second place finish after passing Greene for second position.
Lee Saunder’s win increased his points total to 95, continuing his run atop the International Group point standings while Jerry Greene solidified his second place tally of 83.
Todd Napieralski maintained his lead atop the American Muscle Group with a total of 89 points, but only just; as Francis’ victory saw him move up to second in the standings with 84. Thomas Ellis fell to third position, despite a third place finish, and now holds 69 points.
The Next Dimension 100, Presented by 3Dimensional Services Group at Lime Rock Park, Round 4 of the 2015 Trans Am Championship, will be held May 23, 2015.
How to Watch on CBS Sports Network:
SATURDAY MAY 23, 12:00 PM ET
FOAMETIX 100-ROAD ATLANTA, GA
Round 3 of the 2015 Trans Am Championship, featuring TA and TA3 classes
SATURDAY, MAY 30, 12:00 PM ET
FOAMETIX MUSCLE CAR CHALLENGE-ROAD ATLANTA, GA
Round 3 of the 2015 Trans Am Championship, TA2, featuring Mustang, Camaro, Challenger
Full Foametix Muscle Car Challenge Results (TA2)