Miami: Tony Ave race notes

Planning another double duty weekend in Atlanta; Ave squeezes fifth, sixth place finishes from hot Miami weekend. MIAMI - Tony Ave, driver of the ...

Planning another double duty weekend in Atlanta; Ave squeezes fifth, sixth place finishes from hot Miami weekend.

MIAMI - Tony Ave, driver of the #53 LAC Motorsports/Trilithic Panoz Esperante in the Trans-Am Series for the BF Goodrich Tires Cup Series, leaves the heat of Miami behind after the inaugural Grand Prix of Americas, but he's taking a fifth place finish and a sixth place finish with him.

Ave's fifth place finish in the weekend's finale - the Trans-Am race - helps him keep a hold on the seventh place position in the series championship points battle.

The experience he gained while co-driving the American Le Mans Series Riley & Scott MkIIIC-Elan LMP 900, will help him and co-driver Mark Goossens challenge the ALMS field again this weekend in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta

Because of this weekend and other recent racing ventures, Ave's fans and supporters have seen further evidence of his versatile skills in the driver's seat.

In Sunday's Trans-Am Series event, his regular racing commitment, Ave started the race in seventh position, but was quickly looking at the field in front of him from 21st place after having to pit to remove debris from the Esperante's front screen. But it was clear to Ave that the car was down on horsepower due to another problem.

"The battery voltage was too low, so we didn't have horsepower. I shut off all all the cool boxes, so it got a little hot in the car. When you have an alternator problem in a fuel injection car, it causes other problems. The engine didn't accelerate well at all, so we tried to salvage whatever we could today. We're satisfied with our finish." Ave was prepared to finish further down the field until a late race re-start incident involving Mike Lewis, Johnny Miller, Butch Lieitzinger and Paul Gentilozzi almost launched him to a podium finish. "I was setting up to pass a car in front of me, and ran a little wide, got on the throttle hard and saw the crash happening. I thought I was going to get by, but I got tagged on the right front corner and had to go into the pits so the guys could pull bodywork away from the tire, otherwise I would have finished third."

In Saturday's ALMS race, Ave and co-driver Goossens started the race fourth in a car that had only been raced three times this season at the Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring and Le Mans. The team lost a lap during an early pit stop, and then had problems running a set of bad tires during a long green flag stretch. "When we put on another set of tires we were running laps two seconds faster than the cars in front of us," says Ave. Ave, who will rejoin the Riley & Scott Racing Team for the Petit Le Mans season finale for the 10 hour ALMS series Oct. 13, was pleased with the opportunity to work with Jim Matthews and the Riley & Scott Racing Team. "It's a great car and I really like working with the team," he says. In other recent racing action, Ave qualified his midget on the front row at Indianapolis Raceway Park last week, but was taken out of the race during an early crash. "Other than that, I was headed for a great race," he says.

In early September Ave was tapped to drive an ARCA race at Chicagoland Speedway, qualifying third and finishing fourth despite tire problems and lackluster pit stops. "We had never tested in that car at all, so I was very happy with how things turned out. I do plan to do some more racing with them, and will be in the car at Daytona in February."

The LAC Motorsports team and the rest of the Trans-Am Series regulars head to Road Atlanta for a race on Friday, Oct. 11, which will be broadcast at 8 p.m. on Speed Oct. 18.

For more information about Ave and the LAC Motorsports Team, visit For more information about the Trans-Am Series, visit


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Series ALMS , Trans-Am
Drivers Tony Ave , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller , Jim Matthews