Stretch has historic run on wet Lime Rock course, takes home overall victory for TA2 class
May 25, 2013
Bob Stretch has won 10 TA2 races, two TA2 Championships, holds plenty of TA2 track records and has found himself on pole for TA2 a multitude of times. In short, Bob Stretch has done it all. However, after a waterlogged race at Lime Rock Park, Bob Stretch was able to do something that no other TA2 driver has ever done—he won the Trans Am race outright.
The Series arrived to a wet track on Friday as it prepared for practice sessions and qualifying; however, the rain was quick to reappear and never quite relented. Qualifying was rained out and left the drivers preparing to grid by points for the race.
Doug Peterson and the #87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette started on pole with the #36 McMahon Group/Stumpf Ford Mustang of Cliff Ebben in second position and defending Champion Simon Gregg and the #1 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette in third.
Peterson shot out with a quick start, pushing the #87 car forward and putting in strong lap times. He continued that way for 11 laps of the 67 lap race, building up a strong lead on the competition. Come the 11th lap of the session, the race went under a full course yellow after the #67 Make a Wish/Pinnacle Autosport Pontiac GTO of Scott Ferguson was stuck in the muck off course and in an unfortunate location.
Right before that double yellow, the TA2 cars were seen progressing their way towards the front of the field, with the #27 Kryderacing,/VirSec Chevrolet Camaro of Robert Huffmaster leading the charge, pursued closely by the #11 Ctek/Motorstate/NorthStar Battery Chevrolet Camaro of Cameron Lawrence. Lawrence had started P1 for the TA2 class but was overtaken by Huffmaster during the second lap of the race.
The TA2 cars pushed forward, taking advantage of the wet weather, which was slowing the 800 horsepower TA cars. Peterson was able to hold off the challengers until lap 17 when Huffmaster was able to pass the yellow #87 of Peterson. However, Peterson quickly regained the lead after Huffmaster spun off course a lap later.
Then another TA2 driver pushed Peterson as the #11 of Cameron Lawrence made its way forward once more. Lawrence over came him during the 30th lap of the race, once again claiming the lead for TA2 on the water-soaked course.
During that same lap, Bob Stretch had made his way into the top three of the TA2 class and began to turn what would be the first in a series of fast laps. Stretch and the #98 Wheels America/Fix Rim Mobile Chevrolet Camaro had started in the 20th position, victims of the points-based grid. Undeterred, Stretch had calmly gone about his business, pushing his way through the 25-car field.
As a trio of TA2 cars moved into the top three positions during that 30th lap, Stretch was in third behind Lawrence and Miller Racing teammate Pete Halsmer, driver of the #12 Ctek/Motorstate/NorthStar Battery Chevrolet Camaro. He would constantly pressure the Miller Racing duo, eventually passing Halsmer and lining up just behind Lawrence.
On the 41st lap of the race, Bob Stretch made his move passing Lawrence and propelling the #98 into the lead. It was a lead he would never relinquish.
“I’m extremely happy for all the guys on the Wheels America team; they’ve all been working around the clock and working their fingers to the bone all year,” Stretch said. “The season didn’t start the way we would have liked it to, and, despite Tony’s (Buffomante’s) win last weekend, the #98 was unfortunate to not be up there with him. It’s great to finally take home a victory.”
It was not just a TA2 victory that Stretch had finally taken home; it was the first ever Trans Am outright win for a TA2 driver.
“I think our overall win is really a testament to the tires we run and the way these TA2 cars are designed,” Stretch said. “The Hoosier rains held up well and allowed us to really attack the track, and it was evident for all TA2 drivers—not just me.”
Stretch’s run over the course of the race took him from 20th overall to first, a remarkable run with a remarkable ending—a place in the Trans Am history books as the first TA2 driver to finish a Trans Am race first overall.
Following Stretch to the winners’ circle were the Miller Racing duo of Lawrence and Halsmer, who also finished in the Top 3 overall, second and third, respectively—further testament to the adaptability of the TA2 class in the elements.
In the TA class, Paul Fix, in the #4 StopFlex/Beebe Racing/PME/Lamers Chevrolet Corvette, was able to pass the #87 of teammate Doug Peterson for the class victory. Fix recently joined Tony Ave Racing, and this weekend marked his first Trans Am race in over five years.
“I’ve never really been distant from Trans Am,” Fix said. “I’ve been watching and keeping track of who’s doing well and where the Series is going. I’d recently purchased a TA car and was just testing it at Road America and then Tony (Ave) called and we put this deal together in short order. It’s great to be back here and Tony really provided me with a fantastic car. It was just on the edge all weekend and a fantastic car to drive. The win really makes it a perfect return for me; I couldn’t ask for more.”
Fix went into the race in dead last on grid for the TA class, another victim of the points determined start, and addressed the race with a game plan.
“I was just going to let the race come to me, where I started was where I started—it wasn’t something I could control,” Fix said. “I let the TA2 cars go by me. I knew, because of the weather, I couldn’t run with them; so I focused on making my way through the TA field. Fortunately, the car was there at the end when it needed to be; and we came out with a great result.”
Fix’s victory marked the fifth race, and seven of the last eight, in a row that Tony Ave Racing has come away with a TA win, a streak that dates back to Road Atlanta last year.
Behind Fix was current TA points leader Doug Peterson, who came in second, his seventh podium placement in a row for the class, another streak that dates back to the 2011 Trans Am Series. In third was the #1 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette of Defending Champion Simon Gregg.
In TA3, the #9 Northern Light Porsche 996 GT3 of David Seuss came away victorious. Seuss came into the race with high expectations for the #9, with a desire to make his way into the overall standings.
“The #9 is just so fast in the rain. It simply is. I can’t beat these guys going down the straightaways; it’s just not going to happen. I have to gain ground through the corners and do my best to move up that way, with the goal of passing a car per lap. I started the race dead last, due to points, and was up to 8th at one point. It was a good run, and it’s nice to walk away with a victory.”
All three class winners will plan on bringing their momentum with them to Watkins Glen for the fourth round of the 2013 Trans Am Season on Sunday, June 9, 2013 in conjunction with SVRA, the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association.
Keep track of all the Trans Am action that weekend, and always at www.gotransam.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gotransam and on Twitter at @gotransam.