Ave drives flag-to-flag to win Trans-Am at VIR
In three career starts at VIRginia International Raceway, Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., had three consecutive runner-up finishes until today when he drove flag-to-flag to capture his first-ever SCCA Pro Racing Tran-Am Series win at the scenic 3.27-mile track. Daniel Ramoutarsingh, of La Romain, Trinidad, finished second.
Driving the No. 4 Lamers Racing/Bebee Racing/Optech/PME Engines Chevrolet Corvette, Ave weathered two full course cautions en route to a 25.228-second margin of victory (average speed 86.282 mph) over Ramoutarsingh, who inherited second place on the last lap. This was Ave’s second consecutive win.
“This win means a lot,” Ave said. “I love racing up here. We test a lot here too. So, it shows how good our car ran. Larry Beebe gives us great equipment and we build it all. But he’s the one that owns it and has to authorize it all. I don’t know what happened to my buddy DJ [David Jans]. It looks like he dropped out. But, it was a good weekend for the team. To finally win here, after three seconds, is great.
“We picked up a vibration after the first caution. It was shaking badly under deceleration. I didn’t think it was going to finish. I think a rear gear was coming apart But, fortunately it [the car] made it to the end. I was worried about it. To honest with you, after the second one [caution], when I was able to pull away even with the problem, I knew our car was a lot better than everyone else’s [car]. Oh man, am I finally glad to win here.”
On the last lap, Ave had a more than 10-second lead over then second place driver Doug Harrington, of Kemah, Texas. On the back half of the track, Harrington spun allowing Ramoutarsingh, driver of the No. 18 Trinrico Steel & Wire Products Jaguar XKR, to pass him for second. Ramoutarsingh was consistent all day long and his consistency paid off. He started seventh and finished second. This was Ramoutarsingh’s first podium finish of the season.
“I was extremely surprised,” Ramoutarsingh said of his position on the last lap. “Basically, we had a great car in testing and qualifying. I was very surprised to see how loose the car was at the start of the race. I used up all of my settings, that I would normally do about halfway through the race, in five laps. So, I knew it was going to be a tough race. I just wanted to keep the car under me. I wasn’t able to hook up exiting turns, so I was short shifting. I was doing everything I had to. I guess it pays to never give up and keep the car on the black stuff. I had it [the car] off a couple of times. I two wheels off in all of the critical areas, but someone out there was looking out for me because she [the car] came right back on. It was a great race.”
Simon Gregg, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., started third in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette and remained in the top five for most of the day. Gregg was running fourth on the last lap and when Harrington spun, Gregg was able to take advantage of the miscue and bring his Corvette home third.
“I like this track,” Gregg said. “I’ve had a lot of practice here in club racing. I really had to dig deep. I thought I fell out of the top three due to the spin out at the end of the long straightaway near the end. But, luckily I got going quick enough and had a good lead. Daniel [Ramoutarsingh] and I had a good race. I owe this [finish] to my support group.”
Harrington finished fourth in the No. 00 Pinnacle Autosports Chevrolet Corvette, while John Baucom, of Charlotte, N.C., finished fifth in the No. 86 Baucom Motorsports Ford Mustang.
Bob Stretch, of Arlington, Texas, won the Trans-Am 2 (TA2) class race in the No. 98 Wheels America Chevrolet Camaro. J. Kurt Roehrig, of Greensboro, N.C., finished second in the No. 16 Roehrig Enders Suspension Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and Ricky Sanders, of Fayetteville, Ga., finished third in the No. 19 Pitboxes.com/Racetrailersales Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
“It was a really good race,” Stretch said. “It was interesting running with the Trans-Am cars with the speed differentials. We had a good race going on in TA2. Roehrig and I were pretty tight to begin the race. It was a good battle. For my car’s first time out, I think we did pretty good and I’m real happy.”
Ave leads the Trans-Am Drivers’ Point Championship with 386 points, followed by Gregg (301 points), RJ Lopez (295), of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Harrington (268), and David Jans (216), of Mundelein, Ill.
Chevrolet holds the Trans-Am Manufacturers’ Point lead with 27 points, followed by Ford (16 points), Jaguar (14), and Mazda (6).
Gregg Rodgers leads the Trans-Am 2 Drivers’ Point Championship with 367 points, followed by Sanders (205 points), J. Thomas Graham (184), Stretch (139), and Roehrig (116).
Chevrolet holds the Trans-Am 2 Manufacturers’ Point lead with 27 points, followed by Ford (12 points).
The SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series next heads north of the border to Mosport International Raceway for Round Four May 20-22.
For more information, visit www.trans-amracing.com.
1. TA, (1), Tony Ave, Maiden, N.C., Chevrolet Corvette, 31.
2. TA, (7), Daniel Ramoutarsingh, La Romain Trinidad, , Jaguar XKR, 31, -25.228.
3. TA, (3), Simon Gregg, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Chevrolet Corvette, 31, -30.769.
4. TA, (4), Doug Harrington(R), Kemah, Texas, Chevrolet Corvette, 31, -39.140.
5. TA, (5), John Baucom, Charlotte, N.C., Ford Mustang, 31, -45.245.
6. TA, (8), Ryan McManus(R), Westfield Center, Ohio, Ford Mustang, 31, -46.787.
7. TA, (12), Kenny Bupp, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 31, -47.031.
8. TA, (13), Bob Monette(R), Milton, Ga., Ford Mustang, 31, -1:46.146.
9. TA, (10), Jordan Bupp(R), Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 30, -1 lap.
10. TA2, (17), Bob Stretch(R), Arlington, Texas, Chevrolet Camaro, 29, -2 laps.
11. TA2, (18), J. Kurt Roehrig(R), Greensboro, N.C., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 29, -2 laps.
12. TA2, (21), Ricky Sanders, Fayetteville, Ga., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 29, -2 laps.
13. TA, (15), Amy Ruman, Kent, Ohio, Chevrolet Corvette, 28, -3 laps.
14. TA, (11), David Jans(R), Mundelein, Ill., Ford Mustang, 24, Mech.
15. TA2, (26), Mel Shaw(R), Voorh, N.J., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 24, -7 laps.
16. TA2, (20), Gregg Rodgers(R), Southlake, Texas, Chevrolet Camaro, 22, Mech.
17. TA, (2), RJ Lopez, Santo Domingo, DR, Chevrolet Corvette, 20, Mech.
18. TA, (9), Glen Jung, Osteen, Fla., Mazda RX-7, 20, Crash.
19. TA, (6), Doug Peterson(R), Rochester Hills, Mich., Jaguar XKR, 16, Mech.
20. TA, (16), Carlos deQuesada(R), Coral Gables, Fla., Jaguar XKR, 1, Mech.
21. TA2, (19), J. Thomas Graham, Clearwater, Fla., Ford Taurus, 1, Mech.
22. TA, (14), Paige Alexander(R), Milton, Ga., Chevrolet Corvette C6, 0, Crash.
23. TA2, (22), George Lutich(R), Palm Harbor, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 0, DNS.
24. TA, (23), Charles Wicht, Big Pine Key, Fla., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 0, DNS.
25. TA, (24), Zach Monette(R), Milton, Ga., Ford Mustang, 0, DNS.
26. TA2, (25), Ron Farris(R), Lynchburg, Va., Chevrolet Impala, 0, DNS.
27. TA2, (27), Steve Dunn(R), Hanover, Pa., Chevrolet C6 Monte Carlo, 0, DNS.
Time of race: 1 hours, 10 minutes, 30.508 seconds.
Average speed: 86.262 mph
Margin of victory: 25.228 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-31, #4 Tony Ave
Fastest race lap: #4 Tony Ave, 1:49.915 (107.101 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #4 Tony Ave, 1:47.437 (109.571 mph)