Skeen Scores First Career Trans-Am Pole While Ave Clinches Title in Road Atlanta Qualifying
BRASELTON, Ga. (September 30, 2010) -- Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., earned his first career SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series pole position while Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., wrapped up the 2010 series championship in an eventful qualifying session for Friday afternoon's season finale at Road Atlanta.
Under most circumstances throughout the 2010 Trans-Am season, Ave would go out in qualifying, throw down the gauntlet with a blistering time on his first flying lap and then pull into pit lane while his competitors tried in vain to knock him off the pole position. Today, Ave did throw down a flyer on his first lap at speed and headed for pit lane.
However, before Ave could even reach his pit stall, he was bumped all the way back to third on the grid by Skeen and RJ Lopez, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Skeen turned a lap at 1:19.321 (115.278 mph) in Agee Racing's No. 81 ECR Chevrolet Corvette, which was more than enough to give him the pole for what will be the final Trans-Am race for the Agee team.
"It went really awesome," Skeen said. "We started out with a different setup than we had yesterday. We tried something new in yesterday's practice and didn't really like it, so we went back towards where we were on the promoter test day and made a small change based on that base setup. It was awesome. The Agee Racing guys have been doing an awesome job. They've been working really hard getting this car on the track and it feels really good to be on the pole here for the last race for Agee Racing. We only did it in one flying lap, so I'm glad it held up."
Shortly after Skeen and Lopez posted their times, Ave returned to the track in the No. 4 Boden Masonry/Lamers Racing/McMahon Group/Optech/PME Chevrolet Corvette in an attempt to get the pole back. The best he could do was retake second with a lap at 1:20.029 (114.258 mph), but second on the grid pays six points and he needed to score only four to clinch the title.
"That part is good, but (qualifying) didn't go very well," said Ave. "We were obviously a little bit slower on stickers than we were on old tires and we had a misfire earlier in the week that we thought we fixed. We went out just now and it didn't run at all the whole time very well. I was lucky to finish where we did finish. We need to fix that or we'll be going backwards pretty fast. We'll strip it out and change ignition boxes and whatever else we have to do. It's disappointing to not get on the pole because we clearly should have, but good job to everybody that helps me. We're on the front row, and the championship we don't have to worry about, so we can just race hard tomorrow."
Lopez will start third in the No. 6 Disco 106/ECR Engines/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette with a best lap at 1:20.403 (113.727 mph). It is his sixth top-three starting spot of the season and his fourth in a row. He heads into the race looking for his third victory of the season on Friday.
"It went pretty good," said Lopez. "I think our biggest setback was when we didn't do the test day and we missed the first practice session yesterday, so it was basically only my second time in the car. There are a few things that we missed on the setup, but I really am happy that we did a low-20. We're pretty close to Tony and we're actually holding onto second place there. Mike Skeen did an awesome job. He's really fast, so good for him. There are a couple of changes that I want to make now that I was thinking about making last night and I didn't make them. Now, it reaffirmed to me that I definitely should make some changes. I'm happy with the time, I'm happy I qualified third, but I know there's a little more in the car."
Glen Jung, of Osteen, Fla., scored his best qualifying performance of the year by taking fourth on the grid at 1:22.291 (111.117 mph) in the No. 77 Rotary X-treme/MAZDASPEED/Goodyear Mazda RX-7. Amy Ruman, of Kent, Ohio, completed the top five with a best lap of 1:22.423 (110.940 mph) in the No. 23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette. Bobby Sak, of Kalamazoo, Mich., posted the fourth-quickest time during the session in the No. 17 The Pita Pit/The Grotto at Capone's Chevrolet Corvette, but his time was disallowed for changing tires.
The 30-minute qualifying session was split into two halves, with the Trans-Am cars running the first 15 minutes and the new Trans-Am 2 and Trans-Am 3 classes qualifying in the second half. Bob Stretch, of Arlington, Texas, took the TA2 pole in the No. 98 NewWheel.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo at 1:29.081 (102.648 mph). Jeff Dernehl, of Woodstock, Ga., is the lone TA3 entry and he qualified the No. 03 Mazda RX-7 at 1:32.635 (98.710 mph).
Friday's race is scheduled to take the green flag at 4:35 p.m. ET. The scheduled distance is 36 laps (91.44 miles) and the race is subject to a 90-minute time limit.
-source: scca pro racing