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Ave To Start from Trans-Am Pole at VIR
Tony Ave (No. 4) will start from the pole position for the seventh time in the 2010 SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series season at VIR
Mark Weber/SCCA
SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series championship leader Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., took his easiest pole position of the season on Saturday at Virginia International Raceway when qualifying was canceled due to rain.

By virtue of his 137-point lead in the point standings, 1,030-893, over RJ Lopez, Ave will start his No. 4 Lamers Racing/McMahon Group/Optech/PME Chevrolet Corvette from the pole position for the seventh time in nine races this season. Ave is hoping to clinch his first Trans-Am Series title on Sunday, which he will do if his lead in the championship standings is 139 points or more following the race.

“I would rather have done it in a session,” said Ave. “I wanted to go out and qualify because I wanted to gain some more points on those guys, and we didn’t really show what we had yesterday, so I was pretty comfortable, but there’s nothing you can do. The general consensus is, when it gets rainy, they don’t want to tear cars up. I understand that, but I’d rather qualify even in the rain. Either way, we’re up front and it’s going to be a tough race, so I’m glad I’m starting there and not further back.”

Joining Ave on the front row will be Lopez, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in the No. 6 Disco 106/ECR Engines/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette. It is Lopez’s second front-row starting spot of the season, as he also joined Ave at the head of the grid two races ago at Autobahn Country Club.

“It’s very nice to be on the front row for the second time in my career,” Lopez said. “It really is actually unfortunate, because we had a helluva car. We really had something for Ave today. I shouldn’t really say that, but I really think we had a good shot. It’s a great place to start, front row, and it’s going to be a good race. It’s too bad for some fast guys who are unfortunately going to have to start in the back, like Amy Ruman and Bobby Sak, but they’ll get to the front. It’ll be a good race.”

Starting third will be 2009 Trans-Am champion Tomy Drissi, of Hollywood, Calif., in the No. 5 Unstoppable Jaguar XKR. Drissi was one of few Trans-Am racers to get track time at VIR on Saturday, as he also drove the No. 2 Gulliver’s Travels Chevrolet Corvette in the World Challenge race, which immediately preceded the scheduled start of Trans-Am qualifying. Drissi finished 12th in the GT class after retiring with a mechanical problem.

“We’ve got a decent field here today, but it’s not a 40-car field,” said Drissi. “We don’t want to lose cars. I believe this is Trans-Am and you’re supposed to qualify in the rain, but I think that they made a good judgment call. This track is really hairy in the rain. That wasn’t too bad of a third-place qualifying. Unfortunately, we made a big change to the car to see what it would do in qualifying, but I guess we’ll find out for the race. We’re going to leave it alone and stick with our gut feeling. It should be a good race tomorrow. I think the weather should be nice.”

Sunday’s weather forecast calls for showers in the morning and partly cloudy conditions in the afternoon, so it should be dry for the Trans-Am race, which starts at 2:50 p.m. EDT.

Starting fourth will be Simon Gregg, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette. Amy Ruman, of Kent, Ohio, rounds out the top five in the No. 23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette.

1. (4) Tony Ave, Maiden, N.C., Chevrolet Corvette.
2. (6) RJ Lopez, Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, Chevrolet Corvette.
3. (5) Tomy Drissi, Hollywood, Calif., Jaguar XKR.
4. (59) Simon Gregg, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Chevrolet Corvette.
5. (23) Amy Ruman, Kent, Ohio, Chevrolet Corvette.
6. (77) Glen Jung, Osteen, Fla., Mazda RX-7.
7. (17) Bobby Sak, Kalamazoo, Mich., Chevrolet Corvette.
8. (00) Doug Harrington, Kemah, Texas, Chevrolet Corvette.
9. (86) John Baucom, Charlotte, N.C., Ford Mustang.

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