Amy Ruman and Adam Andretti victorious in inaugural Trans Am race at Circuit of The Americas
November 7, 2015
Ernie Francis, Jr., and Fernando Seferlis grab victories in TA3
PROVISIONAL - As the dust settled at the inaugural Trans Am Race at Circuit of The Americas, Round 11 of the 2015 Trans Am Championship, both Amy Ruman and Adam Andretti secured victories in their respective classes, both increasing their Championship chances and setting the stage for the Trans Am Season finale at Bullet Liner Championship Weekend at Daytona International Raceway next week.
For Ruman, driver of the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, the victory marked her seventh win of the year and, paired with misfortune on the part of pole sitter and points runner up Paul Fix, puts her in a commanding position to secure the TA class Championship at Daytona next week. Ruman began the race in fifth position but passed an incredible three cars in the first turn of the race in her pursuit of Paul Fix, driver of the No. 4 StopFlex.com/ TheCarCoach.com Chevrolet Corvette.
While Ruman pursued Fix through a multitude of laps and a restart, fans were denied a showdown between the two championship frontrunners as the No. 4 of Fix suffered a mechanical failure on the 12th lap. Still, Ruman and Trans Am veteran Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/McMahon Group Ford Mustang, put on a show in the final throws of the race that went down to the wire with Ruman emerging victorious in the end.
“We had an excellent start to the race,” said Ruman. “We took them three wide into one, made up some ground and moved from fifth to second right off the bat. Then I was right with Paul the whole time; he was setting good lap times but so was I. I knew he was quicker in a couple spots, and then I was a little quicker in a couple spots. I just wanted to let the race come to me and be patient. After he (Paul) broke down and we went past him and set sail a little bit. We encountered a little engine problem—we broke a header and went down a cylinder. But we knew the yellow was coming so my main focus was to stay smart out there, try and get the win if possible, or stay on the podium— just get as many points as we could. Cliff got by me on the restart, then we had another yellow, and on another restart I made my move—we went side by side through the entirety of the esses and I finally passed him on the uphill. We went through probably five turns side by side; it was amazing. We didn’t touch each other—that’s what Trans Am Racing is all about. It’s won on the track not off the track. We have respect for each other, and I couldn’t be more proud of my team and to God be the glory on this one.”
Ruman’s victory puts the 2015 Trans Am Championship within her grasp as the enters the weekend with a 25 point lead, but Fix remains viable threat to her crown in a contest that will ultimately be decided in Daytona.
“We needed this—we needed a points gap again,” said Ruman. “We’ve been struggling since the Mid-Ohio debacle, and this is what we needed to boost our points effort. But it’s not over yet; we’re going to go into Daytona and try our best and make it eight wins in 12 races.”
In the end, Trans Am veteran Michael Lewis, in the No. 12 Auto Motorsports Jaguar XKR, was able to squeeze by Ebben and secure second position in his Trans Am return, forcing Ebben to settle for third place on the day. The TA class top five was rounded out by John Baucom, in the No. 86 RoadRaceParts.com Ford Mustang, and Doug Peterson, in the No. 87 3Dimensional.com Cadillac CTS-V, setting up, along with Ebben, an intriguing battle for third position on the Championship podium at Daytona as well.
In TA2, Adam Andretti, in the No. 44 Engineered Components Chevrolet Camaro, emerged victorious over a 29-car TA2 field. Andretti, who began the race in third position prevailed in a survivor’s race, outlasting TA2 class front runners including pole sitter Lawrence Loshak, JJ Haley, Gar Robinson and two-time defending Champion Cameron Lawrence. The victory puts Andretti in the midst of a three-way battle for the Championship with Lawrence and Robinson at Daytona; and while Lawrence remains the favorite to retain the title, Andretti remains more than simply optimistic.
“It’s a little deja vu!” said Andretti. “I couldn’t be prouder to be in this Trans Am Series. It’s been a wonderful blessing in my life and for ECC Motorsports it’s a platform on which we get to showcase our talents. To be able to fight for the Championship down to the wire and do it with a victory leading into the last race once again, it’s absolutely amazing for us. We have Lids Team Sports on board to help us towards our championship. Wagner Horsepower, Wagner Tire, and our Howe Camaro will be up to the task. But there’s a lot going on and a lot of pressure, and we have to have a dominant performance just to have a chance. We want to go out, sit on the pole, lead those laps and win that race—and if we do all that and don’t come away with the Championship, at least we know we did everything we could.”
Andretti made his way into the TA2 lead in the aftermath of the first restart of the race, a lead that while hotly contested was un-relinquished for the remainder of the race.
“A lot of today was driving through the rearview mirror and not the windshield,” said Andretti. “I saw some aggressive moves from behind me that I was actually able to avoid just by watching behind me. I believe when you saw carnage in this race, it’s drivers just cooking it too much into these tight corners at COTA. COTA is one of the best racing tracks I think we’ve been to as far as passing zones, and I think we just had a bit of red mist going on this evening. We had all day to think about it; and when we got out there, it was intense for our ECC Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.”
Andretti was joined on the podium by 16-year-old JJ Haley, in the No. 99 BraunAbility Chevrolet Camaro, who secured second place for his first career Trans Am podium appearance—capping of a strong weekend that saw him set a track record in second chance qualifying as well. Gar Robinson, in the No 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, finished third—recovering after falling back from first position midrace. Robinson’s finish keeps his own Championship aspirations alive as well.
Kyle Marcelli, in the No. 96 M1Fastrack/PersonalChef2Go Chevrolet Camaro, finished fourth; while Cameron Lawrence, in the No. 1 MOPAR Dodge Challenger, completed the top five. Lawrence’s finish helps keep him in a commanding position, a 13 point lead on Robinson and 19 point lead on Andretti, for his third consecutive TA2 Championship— setting up a potential storybook ending at his home track at Daytona International Speedway. Lawrence also set the fast lap of the race with a 2:16.924.
In TA3, Ernie Francis, in the No. 98 Breathless Performance Chevrolet Camaro, once more secured victory, his eighth of the season, in the American Muscle Group, and finished with the TA3 overall victory. Francis, crowned two-time American Muscle Champion last round at NOLA Motorsports Park, led the way for a bevy of his Breathless Racing teammates as they captured three of the four podium spots available this weekend in the American Muscle and International Groups.
“This is one of my favorite tracks,” said Francis. “I won my first ever pro race here years ago; I’ve always been a fan of this track. So to come back here and get another win, especially after grabbing the Championship last weekend, it feels really good. We’re just going out to every race and trying to do the best we can; we have some more competition coming out to Daytona, so they should give us a bit more of a battle—so we’ll see what we can do. Our team is really putting a lot of effort into this, and you have to give Fernando a lot of credit for hopping into a totally different car this weekend. We wish there had been more competition for him to compete against, but his times were looking really competitive. We just can’t thank the Breathless crew enough for giving us the best ride out there.”
Joining Francis on the podium was Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Tremec/SKF/Backstreet Chevrolet Camaro, as he finished second for his seventh of the year. Francis’ Breathless Racing teammate Dave Ricci, in the No. 71 SoutheastGuardrail Chevrolet Camaro, finished third for his first podium appearance of the year. Finally, Fernando Seferlis, in the No. 28 Compulab Panama Aston Martin GT4, made an unexpected appearance in the International Group, securing Breathless Racing’s first International victory of the year.
The race checkered on a time, having run the duration of its allotted 70-minute window completing 24 laps out of a previously anticipated 30. The race was shortened considerably by three lengthy full course cautions to remove cars stopped off course in unsafe locations.
Amy Ruman was the recipient of the Coolshirt Systems “Cool Move of the Race” for her final pass for the lead over Cliff Ebben; while Ron Keith and the Archer Brothers team won the Pitboxes.com Crew of the Race for their efforts to repair the No. 25 Offsite Image Management Ford Mustang after a collision in practice resulting from a stuck throttle. Keith and the team recovered to secure a 15th finish position.
The Trans Am Series will now head south to Daytona International Speedway immediately for Bullet Liner Championship Weekend, Round 12 of the 2015 Trans Am Championship, and the final Trans Am race of the year on November 14, 2015. It does so with both the TA and TA2 Championship up for grabs and with an anticipated entry list of 72 cars; the Trans Am Series seems set for one final showcase to close out the 2015 season.
Provisional Race Results by Class