Ave Leads SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series Practice Day at Road Atlanta
BRASELTON, September 30, 2010: Points leader Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., found a bit more speed in the second of today’s two practice sessions and remained atop the time charts at the end of practice for Friday’s SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series 2010 season finale at Road Atlanta.
Driving the No. 4 Boden Masonry/Lamers Racing/McMahon Group/Optech/PME Chevrolet Corvette, Ave posted a best lap at 1:20.083 (114.181 mph). Ave’s time, which came under cool and overcast conditions with a threat of rain, was nearly a tenth of a second quicker than his session-leading time from the first practice session held this morning.
“It went real good,” said Ave of his efforts in Practice 2. “We had a little ignition problem yesterday, but we sorted that out, fortunately. The car is really good. That was with a fair amount of fuel in it and the tires are good tires, but they’ve got some heat cycles on them, so I’m optimistic for tomorrow. The track was really fast here. I just went out to do one really hard lap and then I saw some rain coming and stuff and there was no reason to keep going. I think we’ll be pretty good for tomorrow and we’ll see what happens on Friday.”
Ave is driving a different racecar this week than the one he had used all season, but it’s been an easy transition. This car is by no means unfamiliar territory to Ave and has some sentimental value as well.
“For me, because I’ve raced so many different things – a lot of times on the same weekends – it’s not a big deal for me anyway,” said Ave. “But in this case, it’s the first car I built and it’s geometrically the same as the other one I was racing. We had done some updates to the other one, but those are all on here, so it feels the same and runs the same. I’m kind of particular to this car anyway because it’s the first one I built, so I’m happy to be racing it.”
After missing the first session with an electrical problem, RJ Lopez, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, found his way to second in Practice 2 and on the day’s combined time charts. Lopez posted a best lap at 1:21.557 (112.118 mph) in the No. 6 Disco 106/ECR Engines/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette.
“I’ve got to say, I’m really, really happy,” Lopez said. “The team did a great job putting the car together, as usual. The first session was kind of a bummer. We weren’t able to get out there with some small electrical problem. I feel just ecstatic that we were able to go out there for the second session and click off the second-quickest lap. Honestly, I’ve been to this track once before. I was here for the Trans-Am last year and this is the kind of track you’ve got to learn to drive again, because there’s so much blind stuff and it’s a tough track. It’s very demanding.
“The first five laps, it was like I’d never even been here before. I was just learning where everything was. Then we got a good rhythm going. I came in and they found me a little spot with not too much traffic, so I went out there and I clicked off a good one. I said, ‘All right, boys, that’s enough.’ There are a few things that I know we can change and it’s going to make the car a lot better. I really know exactly what it is that we have to do to do that, so we should go even quicker. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Another driver who missed Practice 1 with mechanical troubles found plenty of speed in Practice 2 as Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., posted the third quickest time of the session and the day. Skeen’s best lap in the No. 81 ECR Chevrolet Corvette was a 1:21.663 (111.972 mph). He missed the first session as the team changed a driveshaft after participating in the promoter test day on Tuesday.
“It went pretty well,” Skeen said. “We didn’t get out this morning, so we were just throwing some setup ideas at it to see where we stand. We’re pretty pleased with that. You always like to be a little faster, but we’re close. We’re going to go a little bit back to where we were on setup on the test day and see where we can go for qualifying.”
Bobby Sak, of Kalamazoo, Mich., wound up fourth quickest at 1:21.993 (111.521 mph) in the No. 17 The Pita Pit/The Grotto at Capone’s Chevrolet Corvette, while reigning Trans-Am Series champion Tomy Drissi, of Hollywood, Calif., completed the top five in the No. 5 Unstoppable Jaguar XKR. Drissi’s best lap was a 1:22.503 (110.832 mph).
The Trans-Am 2 and Trans-Am 3 classes are making their debut this week on an exhibition basis this weekend in preparation for a full season run in 2011. Bob Stretch, of Arlington, Texas, was quickest of eight TA2 competitors to take time on Wednesday with a best lap at 1:28.500 (103.322 mph) in the No. 98 NewWheel.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Jeff Dernehl, of Woodstock, Ga., is the lone TA3 competitor in the field and he posted a best practice time at 1:33.939 (97.339 mph) in the No. 03 Mazda RX-7.