AUSTIN, Texas – With only two races remaining in the Trans-Am Championship and only a week between them, crunch time is now a reality for teams and drivers with championship aspirations and those wanting to grab Trans-Am glory before the series’ 50th anniversary season comes to a close.
Awaiting drivers this weekend is the 20-turn, 3.427-mile enigma that is the Circuit of The Americas, round 11 of the Trans-Am Championship.
This weekend’s two 102.81-mile races mark only Trans-Am’s second appearance on the Austin, Texas based track. The first came last year, with Amy Ruman, Adam Andretti, Ernie Francis Jr. and Fernando Seferlis winning their respective classes in a four-class melee.
Now, Trans-Am returns to the Lone Star State with 47 cars in tow, set to hold two races alongside the Sportscar Vintage Racing Ass’n’s U.S. Vintage National Championship.
The weekend will showcase a 25-car TA, TA3 and TA4 multi-class race, as well as a 22-car independent TA2 powered by AEM race.
The TA class currently plays host to the class’ tightest championship race in decades. Defending champion Ruman enters the weekend atop the point standings, albeit by just a single point, over Paul Fix.
Ruman and Fix are also joined by Cliff Ebben, who is just 10 points behind Ruman. Ruman emerged victorious in the TA class race at COTA last year and was joined on the podium by Ebben, while Fix qualified on pole and set the fast lap of the race.
Dark horses David Pintaric and Simon Gregg could also play the role of spoilers; however, it would take a level of misfortune on the part of the top three. While R.J. Lopez is out of championship contention, he could easily play spoiler as well, wresting away vital points from the contenders.
In TA2, Tony Buffomante holds a 33 point lead with two rounds remaining, but COTA stands as an unknown for the points leader, while his primary championship challengers already have solid performances to their names on the Texas track.
Texas native Gar Robinson, who currently sits second in the points, finished third at COTA last year. Justin Haley, who sits two points behind Robinson, finished second.
Lawrence Loshak is also heavily in championship contention and set pole for the TA2 class last year, while Shane Lewis is also suddenly in discussion after two consecutive podium appearances.
The championship contenders will be joined by the remainder of the 22-car TA2 field, including Texas natives Elias Anderson, Sam LeComte, Justin Napoleon, Joe Napoleon and John Atwell. Also of note is the return of Tonis Kasemets, making his second Trans-Am appearance after finishing second in his Mid-Ohio debut.
TA3 will play host to nine competitors at COTA, including Francis, the TA4 champion. Having already locked up his TA4 championship, Francis will now try his hand at the TA3 class.
Joining Francis will be TA3 champion Randy Mueller, setting up a rare matchup between current champions in a single class. Mueller will be joined by teammate Michael Camus, Mark Boden, Jason Berkeley, Randy Kinsland and Conor Flynn, among others.
TA4 will feature a three-way battle between last round’s victor Dave Ricci against Todd Napieralski and Rob Bodle, both seeking their first wins of the season.
CREDIT: Trans Am Communications