Best ever weekend for Ave and LAC Motorsports. LIME ROCK, CT. -- In LAC Motorsports' strongest showing since launching the Panoz Esperante package last season, Tony Ave drove the ...
Best ever weekend for Ave and LAC Motorsports.
LIME ROCK, CT. -- In LAC Motorsports' strongest showing since launching the Panoz Esperante package last season, Tony Ave drove the #53 Trans-Am racer to a second place finish in the Mohegan Sun Casino Lime Rock Park Grand Prix on May 27. The finish puts Ave in seventh place in the championship points battle.
Ave, who qualified fifth, was a forceful contender throughout the race, but the LAC Motorsports team, under the leadership of owner Kerry Alexander and Crew Chief Nick Short, gave him a real boost with the fastest pit stop of the day. When Ave ducked into pit lane for a few gallons of fuel with leaders Butch Leitzinger and Boris Said on lap 11, he was in fourth place. When he came out of the pits, he was in ninth position overall behind several cars that had not pitted. But he was in front of Leitzinger and Said, a critical position for the race finish.
In a largely uneventful race, Ave smoothly lapped the picturesque Lime Rock Park Road Course for the remainder of the contest, eventually positioned for a first place finish behind defending series champion Paul Gentilozzi in a Jaguar and pole sitter Stu Hayner in a Corvette - the remaining cars that had not pitted. When Gentilozzi entered pit road under caution, Ave moved up to second place behind Hayner, but ahead of Said.
"Fortunately we had a really good stop, and I got out before they got out. But from then on, we were just too loose and Boris was a little bit better, so he got by us on the front straight," Ave said. Describing the pass Said made to take over second position with only 17 laps to go, Ave explained, "I left just enough room for him to get by. The rules are that you can't make a move in reaction, so I parked over toward the inside, hoping he'd go to the outside. But I didn't want to go all the way to the inside because it's too dirty to try that on my own, so I just maintained my line and he squeaked down through there. He did a great job." With less than 10 laps to go, Hayner's car faltered, handing Said a comfortable lead and putting Ave secure in his first podium finish in the series, ahead of Leitzinger in third.
The weekend's successful outcome was a major step forward for Ave and the LAC Motorsports team, noted Ave. "Last week (in Mosport) was frustrating, mostly because of the points situation, but also, because you want to have a good finish. We did learn that our race strategy was good and that we could keep tires on. The LAC Motorsports team did a great job getting the car ready for today and then they gave me the best pit stop of the race. I couldn't be happier for them, as well as the folks at Trilithic Engineering in Indianapolis. We'll bring a win home to Indy soon."
Ave and the LAC Motorsports team have some time to prepare for the series' next race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on June 29 for round four of the Trans-Am Series for the BF Goodrich Tires Cup 2002 season. But Ave is confident the momentum gained over the past two weekends won't be lost. "I don't have any time off. I'll be running midgets and other stuff, and we'll test again. I know where we went wrong. We were really tight all weekend and I got a little aggressive, but I'm trying to solve that. The guys will be working as hard as they always do, and that time will go by really quickly."