Cleveland: Tony Ave race report

Strong Cleveland run helps Ave maintain position in points race. INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Any racer will say, "You can lead all the laps you want in a race, but the only one that counts is the one that ends with the checkered flag." Tony Ave,...

Strong Cleveland run helps Ave maintain position in points race.

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Any racer will say, "You can lead all the laps you want in a race, but the only one that counts is the one that ends with the checkered flag." Tony Ave, driver of the LAC Motorsports Trilithic Panoz Esperante would be one of the first to agree, until he looked at the points race in the Trans-Am Series for the BF Goodrich Cup after round five of the 2002 season.

The two extra points he earned by leading the most laps of the Cleveland Trans-Am on the Tarmac 100 presented by Microchip earned him the BF Goodrich Take Control Award. Those two points also helped him maintain a hold on fifth place in the series points battle, just ahead of a tie between Randy Ruhlman, Michael Lewis and Stuart Hayner.

Ave was poised for a podium finish, running comfortably in second place with just six laps to go, when his LAC Motorsports Trilithic Panoz Esperante was caught up in a tangle with a lap car. The Esperante's right rear rim was damaged by the contact, and when Ave pitted to take on a new tire, he slipped several positions to finish 12th.

The disappointing finish dampened what was looking like a positive weekend for the LAC Motorsports team. In the weekend's first practice, Ave ran 10th fastest, but the team helped him find the speed to qualify 5th, which also earned a valuable Fast Five Qualifier bonus point.

Despite fading brakes, and the doubts of many onlookers during the race, Ave would have finished on the podium. "I took the lead on the first restart. I pulled out to about three seconds ahead and then I just short-shifted to make sure fuel would be okay. I didn't really race hard until Boris got going, and by that time, unfortunately, we'd lost the brakes a little," he explained.

"We would have been able to make the distance on fuel. We needed to have a certain number of caution laps and we got them. We would have been second even with the brake issue. On the last restart, it looked like we were going to be second for sure because Boris (Said, eventual race winner) really wasn't pulling away at the moment, but then we got tangled up with a lap car. That was the end of it."

Ave faces Said and the rest of the Trans-Am Series for the BF Goodrich Tires regulars on July 20 on a new temporary race circuit at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

For more information about Ave and the LAC Motorsports Team, visit www. Lacmotorsports.com. For more information about the Trans-Am Series, visit www.trans-amseries.com.

-lac-

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Tony Ave , Randy Ruhlman , Stuart Hayner , Michael Lewis