Lawrence wins inaugural Trans Am Muscle Car Challenge, Ellis and Streimer take TA3
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – The Trans Am Series held two races at Homestead Miami Speedway today with 65 cars participating in total. The TA2 class held the first ever Trans Am Muscle Car Challenge, an independent TA2 race, while the TA and TA3 classes held another 100-mile Trans Am race shortly thereafter in what was a full afternoon of road racing action.
Amy Ruman, driver of the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, would capture the TA class win, her third in a row and second of the 2015 Trans Am Championship. Defending TA2 Champion Cameron Lawrence, in the No. 1 MOPAR Dodge Challenger, would claim yet another victory in TA2, his second in a row and 18th of his career, moving him up to seventh place on the list of all-time race winners in Trans Am.
Thomas Ellis, in the No. 00 Palm Express/Averiit/Steeda Ford Mustang, captured TA3’s American Muscle Group, his first ever victory in the Trans Am Series, while Steve Streimer, in the No. 42 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper, won the International Group in his first ever Trans Am appearance.
Having our own race gives this class a chance to show what it’s all about,
“Today was all about patience and perseverance,” said Ruman. “This McNichols Chevrolet Corvette, the guys, my crew, I couldn’t do this without my dad (Bob Ruman), Dave, Mike, Brian, Eric and Jerry… my crew made this win happen. And without McNichols Company, none of this would be here. They got us this win today. RJ was the guy to beat today and unfortunately he had a tire issue. We just wanted to be patient and consistent throughout the race, Baucom poured it on in the end but we knew he was there. I couldn’t be happier, I’m not going to take anything for granted, we’re scraping for every point we can get and we’re going to keep taking this one race at a time and one podium at a time.”
Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon Group Ford Mustang, would finish second in the TA class, while Paul Fix, in the No. 4 StopFlex.com/ TheCarCoach.com Chevrolet Corvette would take third.
“Having our own race gives this class a chance to show what it’s all about,” said Lawrence. “The performance, the affordability and the quality of the racing. This class keeps on drawing everyone’s attention and hopefully we can keep these separate races going and shine the light on this class, and every class in Trans Am. I actually wasn’t too worried about running out front this weekend. I kinda knew tires would be an issue, I would have been alright hanging back a little, but there was early pressure and I probably ended up using the tires a little more than I would have liked. But we had the time and space at the end to bring it home without any issues.”
Finishing second to Lawrence in TA2 was Trans Am rookie Dillon Machavern, UniFirst/ PPG Ford Mustang, his first ever Trans Am podium appearance. In third was Adam Andretti, in the No. 44 Engineered Components Chevrolet Corvette, making his first podium appearance of the year.
Finishing second to Ellis in the American Muscle Group was Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Tremec/SKF/Backstreet Performance Chevrolet Camaro, his second podium appearance of the year, while Christopher DeSalvo, in the No. 61 Baucom Motorsports Ford Mustang, finished third in what was also his second podium appearance of the year.
Following Steve Stremier in the International Group was Sebring victor Lee Saunders, in the No. 84 V10PWR Dodge Viper, who finished second, and Jerry Greene, in the No. 93 Temp Air/Porsche GT3, who finished third in what was also his second podium appearance of the year.
Father and son team Joe and Justin Napoleon, in the No. 90 & 91 TurnKey Industries/ Comm State Bank Chevrolet Camaros, were the recipients of the Cool Move of the Race, courtesy of Cool Shirt Systems, for starting
Trans Am Muscle Car Challenge
The first of two Trans Am Series races on the afternoon, 29 TA2 cars took to the track in a full force showcase of Mustangs, Challengers and Camaros.
The race began with Lawrence on pole with Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, alongside. Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Bestline Superior Lubricants, began in third position with Lawrence Loshak, in the No. 5 Raybestos Powertrain/ Loshak Racing Ford Mustang, in fourth and Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, starting in fifth.
The race commenced with much of the field running nose to tail within the tight conditions of the Homestead Miami infield, navigating traffic to the best of their abilities. On the fourth lap of the race Buffomante made a move on Lewis, followed immediately by Ave, in the No. 92 Lamers Motor Racing Ford Msutang, who had overtaken Loshak and Robinson on the first lap, resulting in a three car race for third position with Ave, Lewis, Machavern all vying for the coveted spot. The three cars ran nearly side-by-side for the majority of lap six, until heading into turn eight as the No. 72 of Shane Lewis spun, allowing Machavern and Ave to capitalize as Kevin Poitras, in the No. 73 Post Plastics Ford Mustang, to move up to fifth.
Ave’s run near the top of the pack was short lived as the No. 92 began to noticeably slow and drop back through the TA2 field. In turn, Poitras moved up into fourth while Adam Andretti, in the No. 44 Engineered Components Chevrolet Camaro, entered the top five for the first time in the race, however only for a single lap as Loshak quickly reclaimed fifth and then fourth position.
Ahead the top three of Lawrence, Buffomante and Machavern continued to race in close quarters with the No. 1 Challenger of Lawrence constantly fending off challenges from Buffomante’s Mustang. The top five continued in that order; Lawrence, Buffomante, Machavern, Loshawk, Poitras up through lap 20 as the field went under a full course yellow to retrieve debris in multiple locations around the course.
The field restarted on the 22nd lap of the race with Adam Andretti immediately making his move up into fifth position over Poitras. The top five continued in the same order as they began to work into lapped traffic. On the 27th lap of the race the order shuffled once more as the No. 34 of Buffomante began to suffer motor issues after being forced off course in turn eight. Machavern moved up to second, with Loshak entering the top three for the first time on the afternoon. Andretti claimed fourth and Gar Robinson made his return to the top five.
On lap 31 turn eight claimed another victim as the No. 5 Mustang and the No. 74 Camaro of Robinson entered the turn side-by-side as Loshak spun in the turn, but quickly recovered only yielding three positions. Andretti capitalized moving into third, while Robinson moved up into fourth and Poitras fifth.
Fourth and fifth continued to be a revolving door with JJ Haley, in the No. 99 BraunAbility Chevrolet Camaro, Poitras and Jordan Bupp, in the No. 81 American Speed Factory Ford Mustang, all vying for the top five. In the end it would be Bupp that made the fourth position his own, as he rose from eight position to fourth in three laps, a position he would hold. Poitras would remain in fifth.
Cameron Lawrence would lead the top three across the finish line, capturing his second win on the year— a strong start in his title defense effort. Dillon Machavern captured his first ever podium placement with his second place finish in the No. 24 Ford Mustang. Andretti’s third place finish was his first podium of the year and ensured every member of the Big Three made a podium appearance.
Lawrence’s victory moved him up to seventh place on the list of all time Trans Am race winners, moving out of what was a four way tie with Greg Pickett, Dorsey Schroeder and Willy T. Ribbs.
TA and TA3 Race
The race began with Miami local RJ Lopez on pole in the No. 16 Optica Lopez Chevrolet Corvette with Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, alongside. Amy Ruman began in third with defending TA Champion Doug Peterson, in the No. 87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette, alongside starting fourth while John Baucom, in the No. 86 Roadraceparts.com/Baumcom Motorsports Ford Mustang, started fifth.
In TA3 International, Miami local Michael Camus, in the No. 08 Epic Motorsports BMW M3, began the race on pole with Russ Snow, in the No. 20 Guardian Services/AiM Sports Chevrolet Corvette, alongside and Stemier in third. Likewise, American Muscle began with defending Champion Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 Breathless Racing Chevrolet Camaro, in first, Deslavo in second and Ellis in third.
As the race began Lopez shot out to a consistent, but commanding lead, with Gregg following close behind with Peterson and Ruman not far behind with second through sixth running nose-to-tail.
On the sixth lap of the race Ruman and Peterson both overtook Gregg, as the No. 59 began to suffer overheating issues and the Derhaag Motorsports team elected to slow the car to finish the race. Peterson’s run in the top three was short lived however as the No. 87 of Peterson was spun in traffic. John Baucom immediately moved up to third position and began to pursue Ruman, while Mario Barcenas, in the No. 35 Rem Racing Chevrolet Corvette, moved up to fourth and Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahoun Group Ford Mustang, assumed fifth position.
In the American Muscle Group, Ernie Francis’ run at the top of the charts was short lived as the No. 98 was forced into the pits during the early laps. DeSalvo took the mantel of top spot within the group but only for a short period as Thomas Ellis overtook him on lap four of the race. Shortly thereafter Napieralksi overtook DeSalvo on lap eight for second as well.
On the end of the 20th lap of the race disaster struck for the No. 16 as Lopez’s right rear tire blew, sending the Corvette into the wall on the outside of the wall of the front straight, Lopez was unharmed but his race was over. Ruman immediately moved into second with Baucom and Mario Barcenas into third.
The track immediately went under full course yellow to retrieve Lopez, and remained that way for several laps.
On the restart, Cliff Ebben took advantage of Barcenas’ misfortune and moved up into third while ahead Baucom immediately began to hound Ruman for the lead. Ruman was forced to fend Baucom off at every turn and led by only half a car length going into the final lap. Just as Baucom began to take up position to make a final push going onto the main straight headed towards the checkered flag, Baucom’s No. 86 lost oil pressured, leaving Ruman to cross the finish line unhampered. Ebben and Fix also capitalized on Baucom’s mechanical issues, powering past him for second and third place on the podium.
In TA3’s International Group the No. 08 of Camus immediately slowed on the restart, entered pit lane and was forced to retire. Steve Stremier and the No. 42 assumed the top spot in the group, with fellow Viper driver Lee Saunders assuming second and Jerry Greene taking third—an order they would maintain until the end of the race.
Likewise in American Muscle, the group maintained the order of Ellis, Napieralski and DeSalvo from restart to finish.
Trans Am Series