Trans Am 2012 so far
October 19, 2012
The 2012 Trans Am season will come to a close once again at Road Atlanta, culminating a year unlike those that came before with a double header weekend that puts 20% of the season’s points up for grabs. 2012 has been a giant leap forward for the historic series, and after these last two races Trans Am will crown its next set of champions, those who will join the likes of Follmer, Gregg and Donohue.
The year began with the series setting its sights northward, holding the opener at Canandian Tire Motorpsorts Park, bringing with it a 19 car field. Qualifying began along the lines of the 2011 season with a dominant performance by two time defending champion Tony Ave. The veteran and his #4 Lamers/PME Engines/RPX Chevrolet Corvette posted the fast lap, and track record, time of 1:16.912 seconds and topped out at 115.097 miles per hour. Following Ave was Canadian Blaise Cside and his 07 Gateway Racing Chevrolet Corvette with a time of 1:17.777 and Doug Peterson in the 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette posting a time of 1:17.932.
The TA2 class was led by defending champion Bob Stretch in his #98 Fix Rim Mobile Wheel Repair Chevrolet Camaro with a time of 1:24.460 and was followed by the Miller Racing duo of Pete Halsmer and Mike Miller in the #12 and 11 Ctek Battery Chargers Motorstate Allstar Chevrolet Camaros. The qualifying session was cut short at the 26:50 mark due to the mechanical failure of the #26 car which resulted in the injury of Trans Am veteran Cliff Ebben. Ebben was transported to the Oshawa General Hospital for treatment, he would undergo surgery and be released later that weekend.
The race ended up far different from the qualifying session. Tony Ave got out to a quick start but was forced into the pits on the 13th lap with a flat tire, only to have to retire a lap latter due to a mechanical failure. Ave’s bad luck turned resulted in a victory for teammate Doug Peterson, who took the checkers on the 32 lap. Behind him was Ian Patterson in the #74 Canadian Heros Chevrolet Corvette and in third, Simon Gregg in the #59 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette.
Pete Halsmer who overtook Bob Stretch halfway through the race and relentlessly refused to give up the lead claimed the TA2 victory. Stretch would settle for second, and Trans Am rookie Michael Wilson would come in third in his #08 Wilson’s Carpet Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
Round two sent the series east to Lime Rock Park where Tony Ave once again grabbed pole with a time of 50.845 seconds, but was closely followed by teammate Doug Peterson, who was hot off his win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, posting a time of 50.862 seconds. Simon Gregg followed in third with a time of 51.346 seconds.
Halsmer was also quick to pick up where the opener ended, setting the TA2 fast lap at 54.823 seconds. Stretch followed with a time of 55.222 and then 19 year old Cameron Lawrence came in at 55.520.
Come race time Ave started strong once again and built up a massive 6.5-second lead over runner up Doug Peterson. He held that lead till the 47th lap when the #4 Lamers/PME Engines/RPX Chevrolet Corvette suffered clutch failure and Ave was forced to bow out once more. Gregg and Peterson would battle for the remainder of the race but Simon Gregg wound up victorious, taking his first win on his 99th Trans Am start. Peterson would finish second and Amy Ruman, and her #23 McNichols Goodyear Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette, would take third for her first podium placement of the year.
In TA2 Bob Stretch would take first, overcoming Pete Halsmer from the start and holding the position for the remainder of the race. Halsmer would finish second while Michael Wilson once again claimed third.
Round 3 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course started off the familiar site of Tony Ave on pole. Setting a new track record of 1:21.645, Ave posted the fast lap for the third consecutive time this season. He was once again followed by Doug Peterson and Amy Ruman, both of which also broke the previous track record with times of 1:22.080 and 1:22.894.
Bob Stretch set the pace for TA2 in qualifying with a time of 1:27.452 and was followed by teammate Tom Sheehan in the #65 Guardian Angle Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Kurt Roehrig came in third in his #04 Roehrig Enders Suspension Chevrolet Camaro. Pete Halsmer was forced to withdrawal from competition due to back pain, ending his podium streak.
Come race day Simon Gregg and Bod Stretch ended up on their respective podiums for back to back victories. The day had began with Ave starting on pole for the third consecutive time but also finishing with a mechanical failure for the third consecutive time. His teammate Doug Peterson suffered the same fate after a minor collision with Amy Ruman. The duo’s departure left Gregg and Ruman in a sprint for the checkers but Ruman eventually lost steam as Gregg won the race on his 100th Trans Am start and claimed the points lead, a lead he his yet to relinquish. Ruman would finish second and Denny Lamers would finish third in his first appearance of the year in his #66 McMahon Group Stumpf Ford Lamers Ford Mustang.
The Mid-Ohio race also featured the GGT class for the first time, pitting Jan Haylen and his #7 Dodge Challenger against Chuck Cassaro and his #76 Cassaro Enterprises Midwest Council Panoz GT. Haylen would win the inaugural race.
Next the series headed east to New Jersey Motorsports Park, where the series battled storms and power outages. The weekend was able to go on as scheduled and began with Tony Ave once again setting the pace in qualifying. The defending champ set a time of 1:16.131 and was followed by Peterson and Ruman, both of which were over a second behind Ave. In TA2 Bob Stretch once again claimed pole with a time of 1:24.094.
The race was the same old story for Tony Ave who was forced to pit in with mechanical issues, leaving Peterson in the lead. Later in the race once Ave had rejoined the field he and Ruman had a collision forcing a full course yellow. During the yellow Ruman was able to pit in, replace a wheel and rejoin the field on the first lap. She came back with a vengeance, eventually passing Peterson and taking her first victory of the year. Simon Gregg would also mount a last minute push to claim second, leaving Peterson in third.
Halsmer and pole-setter Bob Stretch went back and forth throughout the majority of the race until the 39th lap when the cars made contact and Stretch spun out. Halsmer would hold the lead for his second victory of the year while Michael Wilson finished second for his third podium and Mike Miller came in third.
Round five took Trans Am to one of the hallowed grounds of motorsports, Watkins Glen. There the series went without a qualifying session due to storms and was forced to start the race based off the first practice session. This put Jorge Diaz Jr. and the #8 Diaz Racing Jaguar XKR on pole.
Diaz would end up winning the race, leading for all 29 laps, after fending off a furious charge from Tony Ave and a similar effort from Amy Ruman later in the race. Ruman would settle for second while points leader Simon Gregg quietly came in third, holding onto his points lead.
The TA2 race featured Bob Stretch, but in a new car. Stretch had an unfortunate crash in practice earlier in the weekend and was unable to race in his original car, forcing the crew to take their reserve chassis and rebuild the car over the weekend. While the car was ready for the race it was unable to finish, bowing out with only a few laps to go, leaving Pete Halsmer to once again claim victory. Stretch’s teammate Tom Sheehan would come in second and Kurt Roehrig would claim his second podium of the year with a third place finish.
Round six sent Trans Am to its most visited track and Historic Home, Road America. There the series brought what was its biggest field of the year, 26 cars with equal participation from TA and TA2 classes. Rain once again claimed qualifying but was unable to dampen race day. Tony Ave had brought with him a brand new #4 Lamers/PME Engines/ RPX Chevrolet Corvette and the new car did not disappoint. He would lead every lap and ease his way into his first victory of the year. Cliff Ebben would come in second in his return to Trans Am after his injury at the season opener, Simon Gregg came in third.
In TA2 Bob Stretch returned to the podium with a resounding victory after Pete Halsmer dropped back with mechanical issues. Cameron Lawrence would grab his first podium placement of the year with a second place finish while Chris Liesfeld made his first podium appearance for Trans Am in his #96 Hobart Service/Hertz/ Fields Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
Rounds seven and eight both took place at Brainerd International Raceway in the first of two double-header weekends. In TA the first race was all Tony Ave, the veteran led all 40 laps and got his second victory of the year. Teammate Doug Peterson would come in second and Simon Gregg third.
Bob Stretch led the TA2 class for the majority of the races until he began to succumb to tire wear, a notorious consequence of racing at BIR. Halsmer would make his move towards the end of the race, passing Stretch for the lead. Cameron Lawrence would later pass Stretch as well and finish second leaving the defending champion to finish third.
When time came for the second race most of the field had adjusted their setups overnight to compensate for tire wear, and it showed. Amy Ruman and Bob Stretch both started strong and were in instant contention for their respective class leads. Ruman would battle back and forth with Tony Ave for the majority of the race until Ave developed a flat and had to pit in—Ruman would then take the leader and would not relinquish it for the remainder of the Race. Simon Gregg would mount a late surge but finished down .673 seconds to Ruman to claim his eighth podium of the year. Doug Peterson would come in third for his second podium of the weekend.
Stretch held the lead in TA2 and was able to maintain his tires for the entire duration of the race. Pete Halsmer would end up settling for second and Michael Wilson returned to the podium with a third victory.
GGT also provided strong competition throughout the weekend with Chuck Cassaro dueling Tim Gray and his Ryan Companies US Inc Porsche GT-3. Gray would end up taking both races by a small margin.
As Trans Am heads to Road Atlanta for the season finale, yet another double header, Simon Gregg holds the TA points lead with 217, followed by Amy Ruman with 202 and Tony Ave with 187. Defending champ Bob Stretch holds the TA2 lead with 233 points, with Pete Halsmer sitting in second with 199 and Michael Wilson in third with 176. In GGT Chuch Cassaro holds the points lead with 113.
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