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PAUL FIX AND SHANE LEWIS SECURE POLE POSITIONS AS TRANS AM MAKES NOLA DEBUT

As Fast Five Qualifying concluded at NOLA Motorsports Park, Paul Fix emerged atop the charts, capturing his fourth pole position of the year after turning a 1:37.179 lap time around the 2.75 mile, 16 turn, course.  Fix will start at the front of a 40-car multi-class Trans Am field in the first ever appearance for the Series at the Louisiana-based track.  Fix was joined atop the Fast Five charts by Shane Lewis in TA2, Steve Streimer in TA3 International and Ernie Francis, Jr., in TA3 American Muscle—who will all start in first position for their respective classes come race day. trans am nola q

Fix, in the No. 4 StopFlex.com/TheCarCoach.com Chevrolet Corvette, is currently locked in the final throws of a yearlong championship battle with current points leader Amy Ruman, driver of the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette.  While Fix entered the event 14 points off Ruman, the pole position not only helps Fix shave off a few crucial points, it also puts him in prime position to further cut into Ruman’s lead in the season’s final stages.  If Fix can capitalize on both his starting position and the inevitable traffic of a multiclass race on the narrow confines of the NOLA track, the results may set up one of the closest TA Championship finishes in recent times.

Fix will be joined at the front of the field by Tony Ave, subbing in for Doug Peterson in the No. 87 3Dimensional.com Cadillac CTS-V, who secured the one-two start for Tony Ave Racing with a 1:37.513 lap time.  Amy Ruman, who qualified third with a time of 1:38.205, now faces the unenviable task of not only pursuing Fix through the Trans Am traffic, but having to pass his teammate as well.

TA class veterans Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, and Kerry Hitt, in the No. 19 Advanced Composite Products Cadillac CTS-V, rounded out the Fast Five with times of 1:38.369 and 1:39.362, respectively.

In TA2, it was Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, who captured pole position—his first ever in the Trans Am Series, in this, remarkably, his rookie season.  An experienced veteran of endurance racing on a global scale, Lewis’ fist year in Trans Am and its 100-mile sprint format has yielded strong results, including two podium finishes.  Come Sunday, Lewis will look to add to his own points total, one that currently amounts to fifth position in the pursuit of the TA2 Championship.

Lewis’ lap, a 1:42.062, was enough to beat out his own teammate, Gar Robinson, for the pole.  Still, the Robinson Racing duo will start tomorrow’s race side-by-side, after Robinsons’ 1:42.274 lap from behind the wheel of the No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro; as the teammates prepare to fend off a 20 car field in the ultra-competitive TA2 class.

Adam Andretti, in the No. 44 Engineered Components Chevrolet Camaro, will start the race in third position after turning a 1:43.001 lap on his final run of the session, stealing third starting position from Dillon Machavern on what was Andretti’s final lap of the qualifying session.   Machevern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, will have to settle for fourth as the race commences after his 1:43.195 lap time.

Two-time defending Champion Cameron Lawrence, in the No. 1 MOPAR Dodge Challenger, grabbed the fifth and final secure qualifying position of the session after turning a 1:43.239 lap.  Lawrence will enter the race with a 27-point lead on Robinson, one that he will look to maintain if not expand upon.  However, the four drivers directly behind him in the points are the four that stand in his way to the top step of the podium—creating quite the challenge for Lawrence in his podium pursuit and defense of the TA2 Championship.

In TA3, Steve Streimer, in the No. 42 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper, and Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 Breathless Racing Chevrolet Camaro, secured first starting positions for their respective groups, International and American Muscle, as they continue their strings of success in the production based racing class.

Streimer, hot off an International Group win at Road America in his last appearance, is set to begin Sunday’s race in the same position he finished, thanks to a 1:46.670 time.  He’ll be joined at the front of the field by teammate Cindi Lux, in the No. 45 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper, who secured the team’s one-two start with a 1:47.225 lap of her own.

Lee Saunders, current International Group points leader and driver of the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper, will also represent the International Group in the top five after a 1:49.040; as he looks to secure his International Championship this weekend by simply taking the green flag.

Ernie Francis, Jr., once more led the American Muscle Group in qualifying, securing his tenth consecutive pole position for the Group with a 1:48.322 lap.  Now, Francis will look to build upon his already considerable points lead as he races towards what could be his second consecutive TA3 American Muscle Championship.

The only competitor capable of stopping Francis in that pursuit is Todd Napieralski, driver of the No. 39 Tremec/SKF/BackStreet Chevrolet Camaro.  Napieralski is also the competitor who will start alongside Francis after turning a 1:48.544 lap of his own.  Together the two represent the only American Muscle Group competitors mathematically capable of securing the Championship; the outcome of Sunday’s race will play a large role in the year end result.

For drivers who finished outside the coveted Fast Five positions, Trans Am will hold a second chance to qualify tomorrow, Saturday, October 10, at 11:05 a.m. Central, allowing drivers the opportunity to improve their starting position up to sixth.

That session will immediately follow a second Practice session for all Trans Am classes, commencing at 11:05 am.

Round 10 of the 2015 Trans Am Championship will take the green flag at 12:45 p.m. central on Sunday, October 11, 2015, running 101.75 miles or the maximum of 70 allotted minutes.

Source. Trans Am/Phot. Chris Clark

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