Paul Fix and Tony Buffomante take Trans Am poles at Daytona

Paul Fix
Paul Fix

Paul Fix and Tony Buffomante both bolstered their championship pursuits today as the Trans Am Series held qualifying in preparations for tomorrow's 50th Anniversary Season Finale at Daytona International Speedway, Round 12 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship. Lee Saunders and Brian Kleeman also set fast laps in the TA3 and TA4 class qualifying sessions, giving them pole positions of their own come tomorrow's two 103.24-mile, 29-lap races, a TA, TA3, TA4 multi-class race and a TA2 exclusive race.

Paul Fix, in the No. 50 StopFlex/ Chevrolet Corvette, secured the pole for the TA, TA3 and TA4 multi-class race for the second consecutive year with a 1:44.541-lap around the 3.56-mile, 20-turn road course.

While defending TA champ Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, followed Fix with a 1:44.794 lap of her own, Fix was still able to add a single point to his lead in the duo's battle for the TA class championship. Now, with a 9 point lead in hand Fix will enter the race knowing he only need finish 4th or better to clinch the title—even if Ruman secures victory and meets all conditions for additional points by setting the fast lap and leading the most laps.

The TA championship contenders were followed by John Baucom, in the No. 86 Ford Mustang, who turned a 1:46.510 lap to lead the remainder of the 16-car TA class field. David Pintaric, in the No. 57 Kryderacing Cadillac CTS-V, and Jim McAleese, in the No. 03 McAleese & Associates Chevrolet Corvette, completed the TA class top five with times of 1:46.644 and 1:46.765.

The TA class top five also included Claudio Burtin, Simon Gregg, RJ Lopez, Vincent Allegretta and AJ Henriksen.

In TA2, current points leader Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Mike Cope Ford Mustang, captured his 6th pole of the season and added three points to his lead over defending champion Gar Robinson boosting his points total to near-critical 28 points and creating a monumental challenge for Robinson—the sole challenger to Buffomante's title hopes. Buffomante's lap, a 1:50.704, also stands as a new qualifying track record and a testament to the hard work of the Mike Cope Racing team that worked to reassemble the No. 34 after a test day incident that put Buffomante's championship aspirations in jeopardy. Now, all Buffomante must do to secure the 2016 TA2 Championship is finish 22nd in a 24-car field.

Buffomante was followed in the qualifying session by Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, who turned a 1:50.796 lap of his own—just hundredths of a second off Buffomante's time. Third quick in the session was newcomer Scott Lagasse, Jr., in the No. 7 Scott Lagasse Racing Chevrolet Camaro, as he makes his first appearance in Trans Am and the TA2 class.

The TA2 top five was completed by, in order, veteran racer Tommy Archer, Lawrence Loshak, Dillon Machavern, Steve Kent, Jr., and Louis-Phillippe Montour.

The TA3 class was led in qualifying by 2015 champion Lee Saunders, in the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper ACRX. Saunders would turn a 1:53.780 lap around the course, just edging the effort of Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 Beta Tools/ Liquid Performance Chevrolet Corvette, who logged a 1:53.890 lap of his own. Francis, who has already secured the TA4 class championship, will work to become the first driver of the year to secure wins in two different classes.

Conor Flynn, in the No. 95 Irish Mike's Automotive Porsche 997, was third quick in class with a time of 1:54.638; while the Fall-Line Motorsport team of Mark Boden, in the No. 47 Fall-Line/Calypso/Beverage Flavor BMW M3, and Tim Kezman, in the No. 4 Fall-Line/ Calypso/ Beverage Flavor Porsche 997, completed the TA3 top five with times of 1:55.390 and 1:55.484.

In TA4, Brian Kleeman secured his first pole of the year from behind the wheel of the No. 07 DWW Motorsports Ford Mustang, marking a successful return to Trans Am after a multiple round absence. Kleeman's lap, a 1:56.884, was enough to oust Cameron Maugeri, in the No. 52 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang, from the top spot who turned a 1:57.290 lap of his own.

Mike Geldart, in the No. 43 RacersEdge/ Ford Performance/ Hoosier Ford Mustang, was third quick in class with a time of 1:58.676 and was joined in the TA4 top five by Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Tremec/SKF/Backstreet Performance Chevrolet Camaro, and Dave Ricci, in the No. 71 Southeast Guardrail Chevrolet Camaro, turning times of 1:59.146 and 2:01.148, respectively.

Joining Trans Am on the weekend is Historic Sportscar Racing, holding their “Daytona Historics" featuring a multitude of makes and models throughout the history of motorsports.

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