Champions prevail in qualifying at Sebring International Raceway
March 1, 2014
Doug Peterson and Cameron Lawrence showed the crowd at Sebring International Raceway, Round 1 of the 2014 Trans Am Championship, exactly why they were 2013 Trans Am Champions—despite competition from one of the largest fields in Trans Am history.
In total, 50 cars took part in qualifying this afternoon at The Earwood Classic—the largest field since Road America in 1982. Leading them all was the #87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette, driven by Doug Peterson, the 2013 TA Champion. Peterson’s lap time of 2:03.506 led the TA class and all of Trans Am in the session, as he and the #87 Corvette picked up right where they left off in 2013—on top.
“The session started out very slick but we eventually were able to put in a good lap,” said Peterson. “It’s fantastic to be out with all these cars and competitors, I love Trans Am and these cars, and it’s really encouraging to see the Series grow like it has. We had fans watching from up in the terraces that weren’t here last year. The car counts, the fans, it’s all coming together and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Peterson has plenty of speed left as well, during the first practice of the weekend he logged a 2:00.988—on a cooler, less slick track. If he and the rest of the TA field are met with similar conditions come race time, fans can expect to see Peterson and all of Trans Am speed up.
Following Peterson was the #59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette of Simon Gregg. Gregg, also a recent TA Champion in 2012, turned in a time of 2:03.958 in his pursuit of Peterson, setting up a side-by-side start between TA’s two most recent Champions.
Cliff Ebben, in the #36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon Group Ford Mustang, rounded out the top three with a time of 2:04.061.
Cameron Lawrence followed up Peterson’s act with his own pole placement in TA2. The 2013 TA2 Champion and the #1 Trick Titanium Chevrolet Camaro set a time of 2:11.915, despite only seven minutes of track time during the TA2 and TA3 qualifying session, the result of an impact between the #27 Country Green Turf Farms/Kryderacing Chevrolet Camaro, driven by Jeff VanLierop, and the tire wall. Both are fine and expected to compete in tomorrow’s race.
“I’ve been trying to keep up over the offseason, driving whatever I can on some of the nearby tracks—Daytona, Sebring, Homestead,” said Lawrence. “It’s awesome to have all these cars in the competition and it pushes everyone to be better. I think you’re going to see the entire lap time begin to come down and everyone is going to start racing closer together. We’re going to continue to do our thing—running hard, running fast and running clean, and hopefully we’ll end up where we did last year.”
Following Lawrence was Adam Andretti, in the #44 Engineered Components Chevrolet Camaro, with a time of 2:12.813. Andretti made his Trans Am debut at Road America last year and has committed to the entire 2014 Season with an eye towards competing for the TA2 Championship—so far, he’s not far behind the defending champ.
Trans Am veteran Tom Sheehan came in third in TA2 qualifying with a 2:13.351. He and the #97 FixRim Mobile Wheel Repair Chevrolet Camaro will represent the entire Fix Rim team towards the front of the grid.
In TA3, Lee Saunders and Dean Martin led their respective sub-groups, with Saunders in the #84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper claiming the fast time in the International Group and Martin, in the #52 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang, setting the pace for the American Muscle Group.
Mark Klenin and Mickey Mills rounded out the top three for the International Group while Ernie Francis, Jr. and Steve Kent, Jr. did likewise in American Muscle.
Trans Am will take to the track at 2:35 p.m. EST tomorrow for the 100.98 mile Trans Am race as drivers and teams alike compete for their first shot at Trans Am glory in 2014.
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