TRANS-AM: Road Atlanta Looms Large For Early Title Contenders

RaceChaser Staff Featured, Trans Am 0 Comments

The Trans-Am Series will turn its attention to Road Atlanta this weekend. (Chris Clark photo)

BRASELTON, Ga. – The Trans-Am Series presented by Pirelli will descend upon Road Atlanta this weekend, bringing with it a field of 55 cars across its four classes.

Trans-Am will hold two separate 101.6-mile races, the equivalent of 40 laps around the iconic 2.54-mile Grand Prix course, with the TA, TA3 and TA4 classes combining for a multi-class showcase while TA2 holds another Trans-Am Muscle Car Challenge independently.

TA2, Trans-Am’s modern re-creation of the pony wars of days past, stands as the largest class in attendance for the event with 19 entries; and while the class’ championship hunt is only in its fledgling stages, one would be pressed to overlook the red hot starts of both Dillon Machavern and Gar Robinson.

Machavern and Robinson have both begun the new season in fine form, each with a win and a second place finish to their names after just two rounds. Machavern opened the year with a dominant flag-to-flag victory at Sebring while Gar Robinson emerged victorious in a Homestead-Miami battle of endurance that featured nine lead changes and five different leaders.

The two drivers are separated by a single point atop the standings, 64 to 63, with Machavern holding the slightest of advantages.

Also in attendance for the TA2 are the victors of the past five TA2 races at Road Atlanta: 2016 victor and defending TA2 champion Tony Buffomante; 2015, 2013 and 2012 victor Cameron Lawrence; and 2014 winner Adam Andretti.

The event also marks the TA2 debut of Sheldon Creed, joining fellow rookies Ray Neveau, Elias Anderson, Mitch Marvosh and Phil Lasco as they try to make their own marks on the deeply talented TA2 field.

Not to be outdone, the TA class, featuring the thunderous 875-horsepower grand touring racecars synonymous with the Trans-Am name, brings with it an assortment of talent.

Sebring victor Cliff Ebben and Homestead winner Ernie Francis Jr. will both be in attendance, looking to build on their early points leads.

Two-time TA champion Amy Ruman is also entered, ready to defend what has become a home-away-from home for the Ohio native. Ruman made history here in 2011, becoming the first woman to win a Trans-Am race; likewise her 2016 and 2015 TA victories at Road Atlanta played a crucial role in securing her equally historic Trans-Am Championships.

Ruman stands ready to go again, but now against a very different looking TA class than years past.

The names of longtime rivals Doug Peterson, now plying his trade in TA2, and Paul Fix are no longer featured on the charts; and while plenty of familiar faces remain, a fresh wave of TA class challengers will feature this weekend at Road Atlanta.

This wave, alongside Francis, includes 2016 Rookie of the Year Vinnie Allegretta; a resurgent Tomy Drissi; and the interesting addition of Justin Marks, racing with Tony Ave Racing in the No. 33 GoPro Motorplex Ford Mustang.

The event stands as Marks’ Trans-Am debut, but he brings with him a lengthy career in motorsports featuring successful stints in World Challenge, the Rolex Sports Car Series and a variety of NASCAR series, including a NASCAR XFINITY Series win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car course in 2016.

The TA3 class, already off to its most competitive season to date, will feature 12 entries of its own. The top three in the class points — Randy Kinsland, Mark Boden and Conor Flynn — are all entered.

Alongside Boden will be fellow Fall-Line teammates Tim Kezman and Tom Herb, while Flynn brings a teammate of his own in Ramin Abdolvahabi.

The TA3 class will also see the addition of the two-car team of Larry Bailey and Aaron Pierce, with both making their TA3 class debut.

In TA4, Brian Kleeman will seek to continue his two-race winning streak. So far Kleeman has started on pole and won both races in TA4 this year. At Road Atlanta he headlines a seven-car field that includes Steven Davison, Mel Shaw, Todd Napieralski and Kleeman’s teammate Chris Outzen.

Father-son team of JR and James Pesek, in the Nos. 00 and 10 Rennsport KC Ford Mustangs, are also entered. JR heads to Atlanta fresh off a podium finish in his Trans-Am debut at Homestead-Miami, while son James makes his Trans-Am debut this weekend.

CREDIT: Trans-Am Communications

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