Fix grabs victory in finals laps at New Jersey

Paul Fix
Paul Fix

Paul Fix, in the No. 50 StopFlex.com/ TheCarCoach.com/ Chevron Techron Chevrolet Corvette, secured his first victory of the year at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) in Round 4 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship, taking the lead with only two laps remaining. Fix was joined in victory by Andrew Aquilante in TA3 and Ernie Francis, Jr., in TA4 in the 27-car, 101.25-mile multiclass race.

Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, led 39 of the 45-laps of the race with Fix holding second position from lap 12 onward. Ultimately with just two laps remaining, the duo, who had separated themselves from the remainder of the TA field, were held up by lapped traffic; and with Ruman delayed on her line, Fix capitalized, making his move on the inside.

“There were a few opportunities for the lead," said Fix. “I knew that traffic was going to come in to play, as it always does here, with there only really being one good passing opportunity at full song, which is in turn one. And it was just perfect timing; I was in the right place at the right time, stuck it right next to her and capitalized in turn 2 and away I went. The race came down to waiting for that great opportunity."

While Fix battled for the championship down to the wire in 2015, he was quick to downplay any talk of momentum and another championship charge.

“I’m a long way back, and I think I’m just going to take it race by race at this point," said Fix. “We can’t start thinking of how many points we need in each race, that’ll just cloud us and burden us with too much drama. We’re just going to go race by race, go for wins and see what happens at the end of the season. That’s the only thing we can do."

Ruman, despite being contacted by a lapped car, was able to hold on to secure second place on the podium—her third podium appearance of the year, keeping intact her considerable points lead. However, the result also snaps Ruman’s three race winning streak at NJMP that dates back to 2012.

The Start
The Start

Joining Fix and Ruman on podium was pole sitter Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon Group Ford Mustang, who held third position for the vast majority of the race after conceding first to Ruman five laps in, and second to Fix 11 laps in.

The TA top five was completed by David Pintaric, in the No. 57 Kryderacing Chevrolet Corvette, who finished fourth and Jim McAleese, in the No. 03 McAleese & Associates Chevrolet Corvette, who finished fifth.

In TA3, Andrew Aquilante led every lap of the race from behind the wheel of the No. 32 Phoenix/Hawk/Penske Chevrolet Corvette, despite having to fend off heavy challenges early on from Randy Mueller, in the No. 0 Bizbloom.com BMW M3.

“Today’s race was all about getting through the start and the restart clean and not making any mistakes," said Aquilante. “Randy and I went side by side into the first few corners, a little bit of a fight, got around and down into turns 3 and 5 and then took off, set sail, and tried to keep it clean."

Mueller would finish second; while his Epic Racing teammate Michael Camus, in the No. 08 Bizbloom.com BMW M3, finished third—securing yet another series of podiums for the team’s championship pursuits. Mueller currently leads the standings while Camus is secure in second place.

In TA4, Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 BetaTools/Liquid Performance Ford Mustang, captured his fourth win of the year, continuing his absolute dominance of the class en route to what could be a third consecutive championship for the 18-year-old driver.

“Our race was pretty smooth from the start," said Francis. “We were in the lead and just kept the gap. We were able to hold our position until the yellow came out, which helped us. The second place car was pretty much a full lap behind us, so from then on it was just smooth sailing despite the track being fairly slick and a lot slower than it was yesterday. I just stayed patient with it and didn’t push too hard."

Francis was joined on the podium by his primary challenger for the championship, Brian Kleeman, in the No. 07 DWW Motorsports Ford Mustang, who finished second to remain within striking distance of the No. 98 in the points. The TA4 podium was completed by Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Tremec/SKF/Backstreet Performance Chevrolet Camaro, making his first top three finish of the year.

Tim Kezman, in the No. 4 Fall-Line Motorsports/Calypso Porsche 997, was the sole representative of the TA5 class.

The fast laps of the race were turned by John Baucom, in the No. 86 RoadRaceParts.com Ford Mustang, in TA with a 1:19.939; Andrew Aquilante in TA3 with a 1:24.785; Ernie Francis, Jr., in TA4 with a 1:26.536; and Tim Kezman with a 1:27.830. The times by Aquilante, Francis and Kezman all stand as new race records for their respective classes at NJMP.

The Trans Am Series also held a TA2 standalone race earlier in the day at NJMP for Round 4 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship, which was won by Tony Buffomante with Dillon Machavern finishing second and Gar Robinson finishing third. Full coverage of that race can be found at gotransam.com.

The Trans Am Series will next head north to Brainerd International Raceway for Round 5 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship, the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic, on July 2-3.

Results

Pos No Class-PIC Driver Sponsor/Car Laps Best Tm Pts
1 50 TA 1 Paul Fix / Williamsville NY StopFlex/CarCoach/ClassicTube/Chevrolet Corvette 45 01:19.952 32
2 23 TA 2 Amy Ruman / Kent OH McNichols Co./Chevrolet Corvette 45 01:20.142 31
3 36 TA 3 Cliff Ebben / Appleton WI Stumpf Ford/McMahon Gr/LamersRcg/Ford Mustang 45 01:20.056 29
4 57 TA 4 David Pintaric / Canfield OH Kryderacing/Chevrolet Corvette 45 01:21.023 23
5 03 TA 5 Jim McAleese / Leesburg VA McAleese & Associates//Chevrolet Corvette 45 01:20.983 21
6 59 TA 6 Simon Gregg / Ponte Verde FL Derhaag Motorsports/Chevrolet Corvette 45 01:21.484 20
7 75 TA 7 Charles Wicht / Big Pine Key FL RolexDealers/CrystalClearPools/Chevrolet Corvette 45 01:22.545 19
8 7 TA 8 Claudio Burtin / Atlanta GA GoShare/Chevrolet Corvette 44 01:22.452 18
9 82 TA 9 Joseph Freda / Auburn AL ERALab.com/Chevrolet Corvette 43 01:23.879 17
10 32 TA3 1 Andrew Aquilante / Chester Springs PA Phoenix / Hawk / Penske/Chevrolet Corvette 4301:24.785 35
11 0 TA3 2 Randy Mueller / Miami FL Bizbloom.com/BMW M3 43 01:26.159 29
12 98 TA4 1 Ernie Francis Jr / Ft Lauderdale FL BetaTools/LiquidPerformance/Ford Mustang 4301:26.536 35
13 77 TA 10 Tim Rubright / Kutztown PA BlueKnobAuto.com/Ford Mustang 42 01:24.041 16
14 41 TA 11 Vincent Allegretta (R) / Hampton Bays NY TASights&Sounds/Dr.Dave(Health)/Chevrolet Corvette 42 01:23.262 15
15 07 TA4 2 Brian Kleeman (R) / Baltimore MD DWW Motorsports/Ford Mustang 41 01:28.712 29
16 4 TA5 1 Tim Kezman (R) / Franksville WI Fall­LineMotorsports/Calypso/Porsche 997 4101:27.830 35
17 39 TA4 3 Todd Napieralski / Chelsea MI Tremec/SKF/BackstreetPerformnce/Chevrolet Camaro 41 01:29.387 26
18 08 TA3 3 Michael Camus / Miami Lakes FL Bizbloom.com/BMW M3 41 01:28.348 25
19 64 TA3 4 Larry Funk (R) / Oberlin OH Business Advisory Services/BMW M3 40 01:30.666 23
20 89 TA4 4 Brian Licklider (R) / Lenhartsville PA BlueKnobAuto.com/Ford Mustang 40 01:31.313 23
21 97 TA4 5 Chris Outzen (R) / Sudbury MA DWW Motorsports/Ford Mustang 38 01:31.927 21
22 28 TA3 5 Fernando Seferlis / Republic of Panama Compulab Panama/Aston Martin Vantage GT4 37 01:29.825 21
23 22 TA3 6 Mel Shaw / Voorhees NJ Bay Commercial Group/BETA/Chevrolet Corvette 35 01:31.908 20
24 19 TA 12 Kerry Hitt / Harrisburg PA Advanced Composite Products Inc/Cadillac CTS­V 33 01:23.030 14
25 6 TA 13 Mickey Wright / Clearwater FL Derhaag Motorsports/Chevrolet Corvette 18 01:24.145 13
26 86 TA 14 John Baucom / Waxhaw NC Roadraceparts.com/BaucomMtrspts/Ford Mustang 17 01:19.939 12

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