Ernie Francis, Jr., and Shane Lewis grab Trans Am poles at COTA

Ernie Francis, Jr.
Ernie Francis, Jr.

Ernie Francis, Jr., and Shane Lewis secured their respective Trans Am poles for tomorrow’s Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli races at Circuit of The Americas, while Kurt Fazekus would lead the TA3 class in qualifying and Lewis, guest driving in TA4 as well, turned his second fast lap of the afternoon.

The pole marks the sixth of the season for Francis, Jr., and will put the No. 98 FramelessShowerDoors.com Ford Mustang at the front of the 30-car field for The COTA Trans American, 102.81 miles (30 laps) around the 3.427-mile, 20-turn COTA surface with the TA class being joined by TA3 and TA4 in a multi-class competition.

Francis and the Breathless Pro Racing team secured the TA class championship last round at New Jersey Motorsports Park, but his recent success did not stop the recently minted champ from turning a 2:09.096 lap, taking pole by over a second.

“The car is running great," said Francis. “I’ve got to thank the guys from FramelessShowerDoors.com for getting us out here, R&B Company and Buoniconti Fund as well— the new look on the No. 98 is amazing. We’ve got the championship, but I’m still having fun. The car felt awesome in practice on old tires, but we saw the times everyone was running and thought we could match them with stickers. We threw them on, dropped another second and went from there."

With several new faces behind Francis, the pole position comes event sweeter for the 19-year-old champ.

“I like seeing the new faces; it definitely helps us out," said Francis. “We’ve proven throughout the year that we can race with some of these new faces that are coming into TA and run with them at the front. We’ll have to work for this win; and as more come in, I hope they see the talent in TA. They’ll have to work for it too if they want to beat us."

Following Francis was one of those new faces, coming in the shape of long-time TA2 competitor Lawrence Loshak, in the No. 50 Pennzoil/ GoShare Chevrolet Camaro, who turned a 2:10.123 in his first TA class qualifying session.

Trans Am veteran Paul Fix, making his third appearance of the season in the No. 4 StopFlex/TheCarCoach Ford Mustang, would just edge Justin Marks, debuting the No. 25 Katerra Chevrolet Camaro, for third starting position with Fix turning a 2:10.229 to Marks’ 2:10.299.

Current championship points runner up Vinnie Allegretta, in the No. 41 TA Sights & Sounds Chevrolet Corvette, secured fifth starting position with a 2:11.752.

The TA class qualifying top ten also included in order, Tomy Drissi, Amy Ruman, Simon Gregg, Greg Pickett and Kerry Hitt.

Shane Lewis would secure his first TA2 pole of 2017 in the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, and fifth of his career, and will lead the 31-car TA2 field to the green flag for the Trans American Muscle Car Challenge. Lewis, entered as a competitor for TA2 in both the primary championship and West Coast, also secured pole in TA4 as a guest driver in the No. 22 Rennsport KC Ford Mustang, flying a tribute livery to Mel Shaw. Lewis would turn a track record

“This is just a phenomenal day," said Lewis. “It probably sounds like people say this over and over again, but the Robinson team give me the best car. The give Gar (Robinson) the best car. We’ve had equal equipment, and Gar’s been whooping my ass all year. To finally get one means I really earned this one. Gar and Matos were neck-in-neck all session; and when they told me their lap times, I thought, ‘there’s no way.’ But that’s when you dig deep and try to bring something back to the team. I’m very fortunate to be driving this car."

“I’m having a great time driving the No. 72, but I’m also having a great time driving the No. 22 in memory of Mel Shaw for JR Pesek," said Lewis. “Shaw was a comrade, a good guy and we miss him dearly. For them to ask me to field the car for them, it’s a real honor."

Lewis was followed in the session by teammate and championship points leader Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, who turned a 2:13.721, just barely edging out Rafa Matos, in the No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro, who turned a 2:14.097.

West Coast TA2 competitor Thomas Merrill, in the No. 81 Big Diehl Ford Mustang, would turn a 2:14.097 in his TA2 debut to secure fourth starting position; while defending TA2 champ Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Best Line Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang, turned a 2:14.135 to qualify fifth.

TA3 debutant Kurt Fazekas, in the No. 52 Kelly-Moss Porsche GT3, will start his first Trans Am Series race at the head of his class after turning a qualifying track-record 2:15.702 lap—shattering the previous mark of 2:19.876 set only a year ago.

Alongside Fazekas will be current points leader Mark Boden, in the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3, after turning a 2:16.358 lap of his own. Boden entered the round with only 13 points separating himself and teammate Tim Kezman; the second position start gives Boden an additional two points towards that effort.

Road America victor Jason Daskalos, in the No. 7 Daskalos Dodge Viper Comp Coupe, qualified third with a time of 2:16.695; while Rookie of the Year Tom Herb, in the No. 16 Fall-Line Porsche 911 GT3, and Dirk Leuenberger, in the No. 35 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper, completed the class top five with times of 2:18.678 and 2:21.041, respectively.

In TA4, Lewis’ No. 22 led the way with a qualifying time of 2:22.363, beating out points leader Brian Kleeman, in the No. 07 DWW Motorsports Ford Mustang, who turned a time of 2:23.727, for the production class’ top spot.

Rookie Joe Bogetich, in the No. 65 Westover Controls Ford Mustang, was third quick with a time of 2:24.830, with Todd Napieralksi, in the No. 39 Chevrolet Performance/ Tremec Chevrolet Camaro, and Guy Dreier, in the No. 13 Guy Dreier Designs Maserati Gran Turismo GT4, completed the top five with times of 2:24.873 and 2:26.737, respectively.

The weekend’s competition features both the Trans Am Championship presented by Pirelli and the Trans Am West Coast Championship running alongside each other, with separate points awarded depending of their finishing order within their individual championships.

Trans Am will hold both races tomorrow, Saturday, November 4, with the TA, TA3 and TA4 class Trans American at 10:45 AM CT, and the Trans American Muscle Car Challenge at 4:34 PM CT.

Trans Am Circuit of the Americas Schedule:

Saturday November 4, 2017
10:45 AM – 12:00 PM Trans American – TA, TA3 TA4
4:35 PM – 5:50 PM Trans American Muscle Car Challenge – TA2

TA Qualifying Results

Pos No. Cls PIC Name Sponsor/Car Best Tm
1 98 TA 1 Ernie Francis Jr/Dania FL BreathlessProRacing/BetaTools/Ford Mustang 02:09.096
2 50 TA 2 Lawrence Loshak/Grafton WI Pennzoil/GoShare/ETEReman/Axalta Chevrolet Camaro 02:10.123
3 4 TA 3 Paul Fix/Williamsville NY Stopflex/ClassicTube/CarCoach/Ford Mustang 02:10.229
4 25 TA 4 Justin Marks (R)/Mooresville NC Katerra/Chevrolet Camaro 02:10.299
5 41 TA 5 Vinnie Allegretta/Hampton Bays NY TA Sights And Sounds/Chevrolet Corvette 02:11.752
6 8 TA 6 Tomy Drissi/Los Angeles CA Ave Motorsports/Chevrolet Corvette 02:11.934
7 23 TA 7 Amy Ruman/Stow OH McNichols Company/Chevrolet Corvette 02:12.921
8 59 TA 8 Simon Gregg/Ponte Vedra FL Derhaag Motorsports/Chevrolet Corvette 02:13.614
9 68 TA 9 Greg Pickett/Crystal Bay NV Pickett Racing/Ford Mustang 02:14.110
10 19 TA 10 Kerry Hitt/Harrisburg PA Advanced Composite Products Inc/Cadillac CTSV 02:16.209
11 30 TA 11 Richard Grant/Germantown TN Grant Racing/Chevrolet Corvette 02:19.104
12 9 TA 12 Jeff Hinkle (R)/Destin FL gogocreate.com/TechnicalRealty/Dodge Challenger 02:25.831
DNS 86 TA DNS John Baucom/Wesley Chapel NC BaucomMtrspts/RoadRaceParts.com/Ford Mustang

TA2 Qualifying Results

Pos No. Cls PIC Name Sponsor/Car Best Tm
1 #72 TA2 1 Shane Lewis/Jupiter FL PuraVidaTequila/74RanchResort/Chevrolet Camaro 02:13.334
2 #74 TA2 2 Gar Robinson/San Antonio TX PuraVidaTequila/74RanchResort/Chevrolet Camaro 02:13.721
3 #88 TA2 3 Rafa Matos (R)/Boca Raton FL 3Dimensional Services Group/Chevrolet Camaro 02:13.733
4 #81 TA2 4 Thomas Merrill (R)/Spreckles CA Big Diehl Racing/Ford Mustang 02:14.097
5 #34 TA2 5 Tony Buffomante/Naperville IL Bestline Superior Lubricants/Ford Mustang 02:14.135
6 #77 TA2 6 Jason Hart (R)/Flower Mound TX Speedlogix/Dodge Challenger 02:14.285
7 #44 TA2 7 Adam Andretti/Brownsburg IN ECC/Anchor Bolt & Screw/Chevrolet Camaro 02:14.703
8 #21 TA2 8 Chris Cook (R)/Scottsdale AZ Shockwave Suspension Seating/Chevrolet Camaro 02:16.145
9 #9 TA2 9 Keith Prociuk/Deer Park IL HP Tuners/Chevrolet Camaro 02:16.236
10 #02 TA2 10 John Atwell/Azle TX A & J Lab Portal/Chevrolet Camaro 02:17.475
11 #23 TA2 11 Curt Vogt/Wallingford CT Cobra Automotive/Ford Mustang 02:17.786
12 #12 TA2 12 Peter Klutt/Halton Hills Ont Can Legendary Motorcar Company/Dodge Challenger 02:17.955
13 #31 TA2 13 Elias Anderson (R)/Driftwood TX Harris Hill Raceway/ARX Mfg LLC/Ford Mustang 02:18.019
14 #97 TA2 14 Tom Sheehan/Bow NH LTK Insulation Technologies/Chevrolet Camaro 02:18.069
15 #87 TA2 15 Doug Peterson/Bonita Springs FL 3Dimensional Services Group/Chevrolet Camaro 02:18.287
16 #24 TA2 16 Brad McAllister (R)/Portland OR PortlandImplantDentistry.com/Ford Mustang 02:18.718
17 #90 TA2 17 Justin Napoleon/Magnolia TX Turnkey Industries/Chevrolet Camaro 02:19.804
18 #91 TA2 18 Joe Napoleon/Magnolia TX Turnkey Industries/Chevrolet Camaro 02:20.470
19 #68 TA2 19 Jaques Lazier (R)/Alta Loma CA Atwell Racing/Chevrolet Camaro 02:20.953
20 #14 TA2 20 Matt Parent (R)/Bellevue WA Mike Cope Racing/Ford Mustang 02:21.634
21 #92 TA2 21 Roberto Sabato (R)/Toronto Ont Can 6th Gear Racing/Ford Mustang 02:22.477
22 #29 TA2 22 Ray Neveau (R)/San Clemente CA Class Auto Centers/Chevrolet Camaro 02:22.785
23 #39 TA2 23 Mitch Marvosh (R)/Ventura CA Wolf Films/Beacon Marine/Ford Mustang 02:26.952
24 #11 TA2 24 David Smith (R)/Phoenix, AZ Shockwave Suspension Seating/Chevrolet Camaro 02:27.388
25 #60 TA2 25 Tim Gray/Eden Prairie MN Ryan Companies US Inc/Ford Mustang 02:28.755
26 #67 TA2 26 Chris Pedersen/Mundelein IL C&P Installations/Chevrolet Camaro 02:31.267
27 #69 TA2 27 Sam LeComte (R)/Flower Mound TX MultiBuilding/TXToolTrd/DoubleG/Chevrolet Camaro 02:31.699
28 #50 TA2 28 Bruce Nesbitt/Chicago IL BrakeOMeter/OrionInd/SurfSolnGrp/Ford Mustang 02:33.547
29 #79 TA2 29 Cameron Lawrence/Windermere FL Class Auto Centers/Chevrolet Camaro
DNS #28 TA2 DNS Lou Gigliotti/Princeton TX LGMotorsports/Brake­O­Meter/Ford Mustang

TA4 Qualifying Results

Pos No. Cls PIC Name Sponsor/Car Best Tm
2 52 TA3 1 Kurt Fazekas (R)/Indianapolis IN Kelly­Moss Road and Race/Porsche GT3 Cup 02:15.702
3 46 TA3 2 Mark Boden/Winnetka IL Fall­LineMotorsports/Porsche 997 Cup 02:16.358
4 7 TA3 3 Jason Daskalos (R)/Albuquerque NM Daskalos Racing/Dodge Viper Comp Coupe 02:16.695
6 16 TA3 4 Tom Herb (R)/Barrington IL Fall­LineMotorsports/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup 02:18.678
7 35 TA3 5 Dirk Leuenberger (R)/Redmond WA Lux Performance Group/Dodge Viper ACRX 02:21.041
8 51 TA3 6 Don McMillon (R)/Texarkana TX Salasko Racing/Chevrolet Corvette 02:21.449
13 5 TA3 7 Milton Grant/Memphis TN SentrySelfStorage/CourtyardHotel/Porsche 997 02:26.633
16 11 TA3 8 Marko Radisic (R)/Belgrade Serbia Precision Driving/Ferrari 458 Challenge
DNS 14 TA3 DNS Tim Kezman/Franksville WI Fall­LineMotorsports/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
1 69 TA3e 1 Charlie Robertson (R)/Whyteleafe England Ginetta Cars/Ginetta G55­GT4 02:15.607
5 29 TA3e 2 Parker Chase (R)/New Braunfels TX Ginetta Cars/Protein Water/Ginetta G55­GT4 02:16.875
9 22 TA4 1 Shane Lewis/Jupiter FL Rennsport KC/Ford Mustang 02:22.363
10 07 TA4 2 Brian Kleeman/Baltimore MD DWW Motorsports Inc/Ford Mustang 02:23.727
11 65 TA4 3 Joe Bogetich (R)/ Arvada CO Westover Controls/Chevrolet Camaro 02:24.830
12 39 TA4 4 Todd Napieralski/Chelsea MI ChevroletPerform/Tremec/SKF/BSP/Chevrolet Camaro 02:24.873
14 13 TA4 5 Guy Dreier/Indian Wells CA Guy Dreier Designs/Maserati Gran Tourismo GT4 02:26.737
15 78 TA4 6 Andrew Entwistle (R)/Austin TX PhoenixPerformance/Hawk/Penske/Ford Mustang 02:27.559
DNS 2 TA4 DNS Steven Davison (R)/Arlington VA DaVinci Plastic Surgery/Aston Martin Vantage GT4

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