Brainerd: Series round eight preview

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Trans-Am Set for Return to Brainerd International Raceway BRAINERD, Minn. -For the first time since 1989, the SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series makes its way to Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minn. for the eighth round of the...

Trans-Am Set for Return to Brainerd International Raceway

BRAINERD, Minn. -For the first time since 1989, the SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series makes its way to Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minn. for the eighth round of the 10-race 2010 championship on Sunday, September 5.

The race on Brainerd's 2.5-mile 13-turn permanent road course is scheduled for 36 laps (90 miles) and will take the green flag at 2:45 p.m. CDT on Sunday afternoon. It will be the 19th Trans-Am race at Brainerd International Raceway.

Leading the championship standings heading into the final month of the 2010 season is Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C. Ave, who drives the No. 4 Lamers Racing/McMahon Group Pro-Motor Chevrolet Corvette holds 98-point lead, 891-793, over RJ Lopez on the strength of a series-leading four victories from the season's first seven races.

Ave claimed three straight wins in Rounds 3 through 5 at Miller Motorsports Park, Road America and Lime Rock Park and picked up his fourth winner's trophy of the season in the most recent Trans-Am race at Autobahn Country Club on August 1. While Ave currently makes his home in North Carolina, a case could be made that he is a local favorite, as he hails originally from Hurley, Wis., which is just over 200 miles away from Brainerd.

A much more local driver in this weekend's field, however, will be Jim Derhaag, of Chaska, Minn. Derhaag is a Trans-Am veteran with 15 career top-five results from his 150 series starts and he will be making his first appearance as a Trans-Am driver since the race in Minneapolis in 1997. Derhaag is the only driver in this weekend's field with previous Trans-Am experience at Brainerd as he made nine starts at the venue from 1981 through 1989 with best results of third in 1987 and 1988.

Derhaag will pilot the No. 40 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette as a teammate to the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, which has been driven all year by Simon Gregg, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Gregg also has an interesting tie to Brainerd as his father, Peter Gregg, won the 1977 Trans-Am race at the venue in a Brumos Porsche 934. Simon Gregg is currently fourth in the 2010 Trans-Am driver standings.

While the aforementioned drivers may be considered favorites for geographical or sentimental reasons, Lopez and Tomy Drissi, of Hollywood, Calif., join Ave as favorites based on performance. Lopez, who drives the No. 6 Disco 106/ECR Engines/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette, has finished inside the top three in six of his seven Trans-Am starts this season and picked up his first career victory in the series in July on the streets of Toronto.

Drissi, meanwhile, is the defending Trans-Am Series champion and earned his lone 2010 victory to date in the season opener at New Jersey Motorsports Park in May. He returns to the cockpit of the No. 5 Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps Jaguar XKR looking to improve upon his third-place position in the championship standings in addition to taking his second victory of the season.

Another driver returning to Trans-Am competition this weekend is Bobby Sak, of Kalamazoo, Mich. Sak is making his first series appearance since 2003 in the No. 17 The Pita Pit/The Grotto at Capone's Chevrolet Corvette and owns three top-five results from 15 previous Trans-Am starts.

Making his third Trans-Am appearance of the season will be Buddy Cisar, of Bellevue, Neb., in the No. 75 Mike's Classic Cars/Quaker Steak & Lube/NAPA/Speedway Graphics Chevrolet Camaro. Cisar earned his best Trans-Am result of ninth last time out with a ninth-place run at Autobahn Country Club.

John Schaller, of Fort Myers, Fla., will make his second start of the season in the No. 08 JRS Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Schaller finished fifth in his only other Trans-Am run this year at Road America in June.

-source: scca pro racing

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Series TRANSAM