The Trans Am Series now converges on Road Atlanta, continuing its celebration of Trans Am’s 50th Anniversary Season, holding two races that constitute Round 2 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship with 66 drivers set to participate across five classes on Sunday, April 10.
The event marks Trans Am’s 20th appearance on the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course, but also a prime early season opportunity for drivers looking to make an immediate impact on their respective championship point standings. TA2, powered by AEM, will hold its now customary independent race with 28 competitors registered, while TA, TA3, TA4 and TA5 will hold a multiclass race of their own.
The TA class will once more be headlined by Amy Ruman, the defending Champion and driver of the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, and Paul Fix, 2015’s runner-up and driver of the No. 50 StopFlex.com/TheCarCoach.com Chevrolet Corvette. The duo also finished one-two in the 2015 race at Road Atlanta, with Ruman securing the victory despite Fix starting on pole. Both will also aim to improve upon their Sebring results that fell short of their own high standards, surprisingly only the second race in sixteen not featuring either Ruman or Fix on the top step.
Historically, Road Atlanta has been good to Ruman. She made history on it in 2011, becoming the first woman to win a Trans Am race, and last year’s victory served an important role in building an early lead in her Championship pursuit.
But Sebring displayed a less predictable outcome in the TA class with Kenny Bupp, in the No. 80 Hamilton Safe Security Chevrolet Camaro, Kerry Hitt, in the No. 19 Advanced Composite Products Inc Cadillac CTS-V, and Claudio Burtin, in the No. 7 GoShare Chevrolet Corvette, all grabbing their first career Trans Am podiums. All three will also return to Road Atlanta, attempting to replicate the feat and, along with a host of other TA drivers, potentially once more add variety to the top of the table.
TA2 will again be the site of the modern day pony wars, the ongoing battle between the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro. Defending TA2 Champion Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, began the year at Sebring as he finished it in 2015, atop the charts. Now he once more remains the man to beat in the ultracompetitive field.
Both Adam Andretti, in the No. 44 ECC/ Anchor Bolt & Screw Dodge Challenger, and Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Enterprises Ford Mustang, joined Robinson on the Sebring podium, but the collective strength of the TA2 field extends far into the field with names like Dillon Machavern, Tommy Archer, Shane Lewiss, Justin Haley, Tony Ave and many, many more capable of striking at the podium.
TA2 also contains several still unknown commodities in the Trans Am paddock with newcomers like Robert Mesmer, Peter Klutt, Brian Kubinski, Louis-Philippe Montour and others eager to make an impact, with Road Atlanta providing the perfect opportunity to do so. It would be unfair to say championships will be won or lost at Road Atlanta; but in a class that went down to the wire in 2015, every point, for every driver, matters.
The recently restructured production classes of Trans Am will also be on display with 20 cars spanning the TA3, TA4 and TA5 classes.
2015 Champion Lee Saunders, in the No. 84 LandSearch LLC Dodge Viper, once more headlines the TA3 class, hot off yet another victory at Sebring International Raceway and looking to capture a second consecutive class victory on the Road Atlanta course. He will be joined on grid by 2014 race winner Russ Snow, in the No. 20 MD Racing Chevrolet Corvette, and a host of other drivers including the duo of Randy Mueller and Michael Camus, in the No. 0 and 09 Epic Motorsports BMW M3s, and 2014 Champion Jason Berkeley, in the No. 67 BMG Management Chevrolet Corvette.
In TA4, Ernie Francis, Jr., a two-time Champion and driver of the No. 98 Beta Tools/ Liquid Performance Ford Mustang, will once more be the target of all challengers as he looks for a second consecutive victory at Atlanta to follow up what now stands as an opening victory at Sebring. A bevy of challengers including Todd Napieralski, Tristan Herbert, and newcomers Ted Hight III and Chris Outzens.
TA5 will feature Trans Am’s first dedicated class to Porsches with Conor Flynn, in the No. 95 Irish Mike’s Automotive Porsche 997, and Milton Grant in the No. 5 SentrySelf/ Courtyard by Marriott Porsche 997, slated to continue their respective championship pursuits in the fledgling class.
Trans Am will be joined on the weekend by the Atlantic Championship Series, F2000 and F1600, as well as the event’s promoter— the North American Road Racing Association (NARRA).
Fans can keep up throughout the weekend with Live Timing and Scoring at http://www.gotransam.com/live-timing, on Twitter at @gotransam and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/gotransam.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
9:10 – 9:40 AM Trans Am TA2 practice
9:40 – 10:10 AM Trans AM TA/TA3/TA4/TA5 practice
3:00 – 3:20 PM Trans Am TA2 “One Shot” Qualifying
3:20 – 3:40 PM Trans Am TA “One Shot” Qualifying
3:40 – 4:00 PM Trans Am TA3/TA4/TA5 “One Shot” Qualifying
Sunday, April 10
12:30 – 1:45 PM TA2, powered by AEM Race, 101.6 miles, 40 laps or 70 minutes
4:15 – 5:30 PM TA/TA3/TA4/TA5 Race, 101.6 miles, 40 laps or 70 minutes
ALL TIMES EASTERN
Source. Trans Am/Photo. Chris Clark