Ave dominates meager Trans-Am field at Miller
Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., dominated the competition in today’s SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series Round Two race at Miller Motorsports Park, part of the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Grand Prix of Utah. Doug Harrington, of Kemah, Texas, and Simon Gregg, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., finished second and third, respectively.
Ave started from the pole in the No. 4 Lamers Racing/McMahon Group/Optech/PME Engines Chevrolet Corvette and put on a driving clinic. The only lap of the 33-lap race Ave did not lead was the first one.
On the first lap heading into Turn One, the rookie Carlos de Quesada slid inside of Ave to take the early lead. De Quesada led the first lap before Ave regained the lead on the next lap. Once Ave took the lead, he never looked back winning by 16.957-seconds over Harrington and capturing his first Trans-Am Series win of the season.
Today’s win was Ave’s seventh-career Trans-Am win, and as a result, he took over the Drivers’ Point lead.
“The guys did an unbelievable job, plus we had really good engines,” Ave said “Our PME Chevy drove right around the Yates Ford [in deQuesada’s Jaguar] on the straightaway, which says a lot. It was just our day; we were really fast and the car was on rails. It was good.
“It’s good. We went to Sebring and ran around on seven cylinders and finished third, which was good with the problems we had. It’s always nerve racking, you always want to get back on top so you have a cushion. Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for RJ, he had a little mechanical drama today. It’ll be our turn at some point, but it’s going to be a tough championship between us and we’ve got some other guys that are pretty good, too.”
Starting sixth, Harrington maneuvered his way through traffic to catch de Quesada late in the race. In fact, Harrington’s No. 00 Pinnacle Autosports Chevrolet Corvette and de Quesada’s No. 22 Alegra Motorsports/Vitalz Jaguar XKR were in a drag race down the front straight of the 3.048-mile track with six laps to go. The cars stay side-by-side through Turns One, Two, and Three until Harrington’s Corvette cleared the Jaguar. From there, Harrington pulled away to finish second – a career-best Trans-Am finish. He now holds three-career Trans-Am Series podium finishes.
“It was a lot of fun,” Harrington said. “It’s a whole lot more fun to have a car around you in a race than it is to dive by yourself. Truthfully, I lost track of the lap count when we [de Quesada] were fighting for positions. It looked like he was having a grip problem in certain left hand corners, and I just sort of waited it out until I got in the right position to make a move. I had a failed attempt once, and got him on the second time.”
Gregg finished third in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette. This was Gregg’s first podium finish of the season.
Cliff Ebben, of Appleton, Wis., finished fourth in the No. 36 McMahon Group/Stump Ford/Lamers Ford Mustang, while teammate Denny Lamers, of Appleton, Wis., drove the No. 66 McMahon Group/Stump Ford/Lamers Ford Mustang to a fifth-place finish.
De Quesada, the rookie from Miami, Fla., ran second most of the race until his tires started to go away on his Jaguar. Unfortunately, this allowed Harrington to catch and pass him for second and he finished third on the track. However, after post race technical inspection, de Quesada’s Jaguar was found to be non-compliant and was disqualified.
Gregg Rogers, of Southlake, Texas, won the Trans-Am 2 (TA2) class race in the No. 40 PinnacleAutosports.com/Eagles Chevrolet Corvette
Ave now leads the Trans-Am Drivers’ Point Championship with 247 points, followed by RJ Lopez (225), of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Ebben (212), Gregg (195), and de Quesada (170).
Chevrolet holds the Manufacturers’ Point lead with 18 points, followed by Ford (12 points), Jaguar (8), and Mazda (3).
The SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series next heads to Virginia International Raceway for Round Three May 13-15.
1. TA, (1), Tony Ave, Maiden, N.C., Chevrolet Corvette, 33.
2. TA, (6), Doug Harrington, Kemah, Texas, Chevrolet Corvette, 33, -16.957.
3. TA, (3), Simon Gregg, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Chevrolet Corvette, 33, -36.872.
4. TA, (4), Cliff Ebben, Appleton, Wis., Ford Mustang, 33, -53.569.
5. TA, (7), Denny Lamers, Appleton, Wis., Ford Mustang, 33, -1:19.963.
6. TA2, (10), Kyle Kelley, Spring Hill, Calif., Chevrolet Camaro, 30, Mech.
7. TA, (9), Doug Peterson, Rochester Hills, Mich., Jaguar XKR, 22, Mech.
8. TA, (2), RJ Lopez, Santo Domingo, DR, Chevrolet Corvette, 21, Mech.
9. TA, (8), David Jans, Mundelein, Ill., Ford Mustang, 16, Mech.
10. TA2, (11), Gregg Rodgers, Southlake, Texas, Chevrolet Camaro, 15, Mech.
11. TA, (5), Carlos deQuesada, Miami, Fla., Jaguar XKR, 33, -34.493.
Time of race: 1 hours, 4 minutes, 40.205 seconds.
Average speed: 93.320 mph
Margin of victory: 16.957 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-1, #22 Carlos deQuesada, Laps 2-33, #4 Tony Ave
Fastest race lap: #4 Tony Ave, 1:50.084 (99.676 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #4 Tony Ave, 1:47.501 (102.071 mph)