Miami local R.J. Lopez takes pole position for Trans Am at Homestead-Miami
March 8, 2014
In his first Trans Am race since 2012, Miami native R.J. Lopez, driving the #06 Disco Optical Lopez Chevrolet Corvette, set the fast lap during qualifying for Round 2 of the 2014 Trans Am Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Lopez, is making his first appearance in Trans Am since 2012, and the series he’s returned to is far different from the one he last raced with at Road America, August of 2012.
“As soon as I came through the gates this weekend, I was definitely impressed,” said Lopez. “Trans Am has really stepped up; it’s absolutely a Pro series now. Big trailers, big teams and great cars, it’s great to see. This is my home track, and I’m excited to be able to race with Trans Am here.”
Lopez was quick to return to the pace of Trans Am and set the fast lap during qualifying, a 1:23.396, strong enough to edge out defending TA class Champion Doug Peterson, in the #87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette, whose time of 1:23.629 fell just short.
“I’m usually not much of a qualifier,” said Lopez. “Usually, I’ll set a time and come back in and wherever I end up, I end up, but I’ve got friends and family coming tomorrow so I thought I had better do my best to get on pole. I knew I had the car for it, and we’ll start at the front of the pack tomorrow.”
Lopez has plenty of time on Homestead-Miami Speedway, which he considers his home track and expects Trans Am to put on quite a show in both races.
“Luckily for us, the field will be split into two races,” said Lopez. “Traffic can be an issue here. It’s really just four straightaways with a couple of turns, but some of the turns really are faster than what you would think just by looking at them. That’s really the trick to getting around here; it’s knowing which turns you can really push on that makes the difference.
Cliff Ebben, in the #36 Stumpf Ford/McMahon Group Ford Mustang, finished third in the session with a time of 1:23.938. He was followed by John Baucom, in the #86 Baucom Motorsport/Roadraceparts.com Ford Mustang, and Amy Ruman, in the #23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, who rounded out the top five with times of 12:277 and 1:24.429, respectively.
In TA2 defending Champion Cameron Lawrence, in the #1 Trick Titanium Chevrolet Corvette, led the class once again, but just barely. Lawrence’s time of 1:29.341 was enough to beat out the #44 Engineered Components Chevrolet Camaro of Adam Andretti, whose lap came in at 1:29.356. Now, Lawrence and Andretti will start side-by-side in tomorrow’s TA2 race, the first time ever that Trans Am has split the field into two separate races.
Trans Am rookie Ron Keith continued his hot streak with a time of 1:29.849. He and the #25 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang finished third at Sebring International Raceway during the Trans Am Season Opener and that streak seems set to continue at least into tomorrow’s race.
Tommy Archer, in the #53 Archer Racing/ Race-Keeper/Team TK Chevrolet Camaro, was fourth with a time of 1:30.185 while Kevin Poitras, in the #73 Mike Cope Racing Chevrolet Camaro, was fifth with a time of 1:30.678.
In TA3, Russ Snow and Dean Martin led their respective subgroups, the International and American Muscle Groups. Snow, in the #20 Carbotech/Chevrolet Corvette, timed in at 1:31.812 while Martin, in the #52 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang, was at 1:32.123.
The International Group was rounded out by Mark Klenin, in the #62 Breathless Performance Aston Martin GT4, at 1:32.639, and Michael Camus, in the #7 MCM Holdings BMW M3, at 1:32.933.
Ernie Francis, Jr., in the #9 Breathless Performance Chevrolet Camaro, was second in American Muscle with a 1:33.284 and was followed by Steve Kent, Jr., in the #17 XLR8 Diesel Trucks/ SKS Equipment Ford Mustang, with a 1:33.975.
The TA2 race will take place at 1:30 p.m. EDT tomorrow, March 9, 2014, and will be followed by the TA and TA3 race at roughly 2:50 p.m. EDT, as Trans Am offers up a full afternoon of road racing action. Each race will be 100.395 miles, 46 laps around Homestead-Miami’s road course.
To keep up on all the action this weekend visit www.gotransam.com, www.facebook.com/gotransam and follow the Series on Twitter at @gotransam.