Tony Buffomante Edges Gar Robinson for COTA TA2 Pole
November 2, 2018
Tight qualifying session sets tone for COTA Muscle Car Challenge
AUSTIN, Texas. [November 2, 2018] — The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will see a pair of past champions atop the race grid for the TA2 class’ Muscle Car Challenge at Circuit of the Americas with 2016 champion Tony Buffomante edging 2015 and 2016 champion Gar Robinson in a razor-close qualifying session for the top spot in the 28-car field.
Buffomante, in the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang, topped the charts with a 2:14.211 to secure pole over Robinson, in the No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, who set a 2:14.222, just .011 of a second slower around the 3.427-lap, 20-turn circuit.
The 14th pole of Buffomate’s career marks a return to form for one of the most successful drivers in TA2 history. The past three events have been difficult for Buffomante and the Mike Cope team with the No. 34 falling victim to contact from lapped traffic at Road America, electrical issues at Watkins Glen, albeit in a backup car, and a ball joint break at Virginia International Raceway, forcing the then championship contender to watch Rafa Matos capture the 2018 TA2 championship from the sidelines.
“The Mike Cope team just keeps working,” said Buffomante. “Every member of the team works so hard. I’m happy for those guys; we struggled even yesterday and today. So I just had one magic lap in it and that was it, I hit the tires just perfect on the pressures; the second lap was way slower. I gave everything I had for those guys just cause that’s what they do for me. We’ve got two races to go, the championship is over; but we’ll try to finish it strong. Dayonta is friendly to us. COTA usually isn’t one of my favorite tracks; maybe it just became one, I’m not sure. Regardless, we’re ecstatic with the pole.”
Buffomante will now face the challenge of fending off the rest of the TA2 field around the tight confines of the COTA circuit and the numerous turns that call it home.
“Obviously the number of corners, the number of gear shifts, the number of corners you have to get off of in the cars, it’s difficult,” said Buffomante. “The Chevy vs Ford has been a battle all year long. We seem to have top-end on them, they seem to have torque on us, when you come off a corner 21 times, that can help a lot. If I have a bit of wheel in the car still, I tend to break the wheels loose in the rear, so you have to get launched off the corner all the time. Fortunately we’re racing in the morning tomorrow, the sun was pretty brutal out there. So we’ll see; like I said I don’t think I could have done that more than one time. Hopefully we can do it for an hour.”
Joining Buffomante and Robinson, a native Texas racing in one-off capacity this weekend, in the TA2 top three was Napoleon Motorsports’ Shane Lewis, 2017 COTA pole sitter in the No. 92 Turn Key Industries/ Surphis Chevrolet Camaro, with a time of 2:14.340, reuniting the three drivers that made up the top three of 2016 and 2017 point standings.
“These guys are just so good,” said Buffomante. “A couple-time champ in Gar and Shane is just a world-renowned road racer, what can you do? 11-thousandths of a second over two minutes and 14 seconds, the competition is just insane. The battle is going to be really tight and the caliber of competition, well its no surprise we’re all within a tenth.”
The TA2 top five also featured Misha Goikhberg, in the No. 25 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro, and last round’s victor Scott Lagasse, Jr., in the No. 95 SLR/ Fields Racing/ M1 Fastrack Chevrolet Camaro, with times of 2:14.497 and 2:14.579, respectively.
Also turning times in the TA2 top ten were John Atwell, Louis-Philippe Montour, Rafa Matos, Doug Peterson and Elias Anderson.
TA2 will take to the track for the COTA Muscle Car Challenge at tomorrow at 10:55 AM CT, with the race spanning 30 laps, 102.81 miles or 70 minutes whichever comes first.
The TA, TA3 and TA4 classes will get their weekend underway tomorrow with a practice session at 1:10 PM CT in preparation for the COTA Trans Am 100, a race of identical distance to be held on Sunday.
Trans Am features on the Circuit of The Americas weekend alongside the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association holding the US Vintage Racing National Championship.
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.
TA2 Qualifying Results in Full (PDF)
30 laps/ 70 minutes/ 102.81 miles
20 turns, 3.427 miles
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.
Remaining Event Schedule:
Saturday November 3, 2018
10:55 AM - 12:10 PM TA2 Muscle Car Challenge powered by AEM
1:10 PM - 1:30 PM TA, TA3, TA4 Practice
5:10 PM - 5:27 PM TA Qualifying
5:32 PM - 5:50 PM TA3, TA4 Qualifying
Sunday November 4, 2018
11:15 AM — 12:25 PM TA, TA3 and TA4 Race