Ave Captures Trans-Am Series Pole At Miller Motorsport Park
TOOELE, April 30, 2011: Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., captured his first SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series pole of the year at Miller Motorsports Park, part of the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Grand Prix of Utah. RJ Lopez, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, will start second.
Tony AveWith temperatures near freezing, Ave did not waste time setting the early pace. In fact, he was the pole leader for most of the 30-minute qualifying session. But, with about 10 minutes remaining in the session, Lopez grabbed the top spot from Ave. At that point, Ave returned to the track in his No. 4 Lamers Racing/McMahon Group/Optech/PME Engines Chevrolet Corvette for another shot at the pole.
With time winding down, Ave knew he did not have too many shots at the pole. Ave only needed one hot lap to capture his first pole of the season. He tamed the 3.048-mile course in 1:47.501 (102.072 mph), establishing a new Trans-Am qualifying record at Miller under this track configuration.
“I really like driving here, so I enjoy just driving around,” Ave said after qualifying. “We test more here than a lot of places because I like the track. I thought about sitting in the pits and waiting for everyone else to blow the dust off and then I didn’t. I went out on my good tires too early and the track was still pretty green from the snow.
“RJ [Lopez] did that. When he went out, the track was a bit quicker. I had to go back out and see if I could beat it and, fortunately, I did. We’re right there; it’s going to be really tough. Everybody knows me, I enjoy qualifying more than the races so I wanted to go out there and see if I could do it.”
Ave is the defending race winner from a year ago.
Lopez, the current Trans-Am Series point leader, will start second in the No. 6 Disco 106/ECR Engines/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette thanks to a qualifying time of 1:48.094 (101.512 mph). Lopez won at Sebring a month ago.
Simon Gregg, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., qualified third in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette with a time of 1:49.825 (99.912 mph).
Cliff Ebben, of Appleton, Wis., will roll off the grid fourth in the No. 36 McMahon Group/Stump Ford/Lamers Chevrolet Corvette (1:50.191, 99.580 mph). Rookie Carlos deQuesada, of Miami, Fla., will start fifth in the No. 22 Alegra Motorsports/Vitalz Jaguar XKR (1:50.254, 99.523 mph).
The green flag will drop on the SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series Round Two race at 2 p.m. (MDT) Sunday, May 1. It will be a 33-lap, 100-mile race.