Amy Ruman and Gar Robinson claim TA and TA2 Championships at Daytona

Amy Ruman
Amy Ruman
Chris Clark Photo

Amy Ruman and Gar Robinson added their names to the long list of Trans Am Champions with victories at Daytona International Speedway in the final race of the 2015 Trans Am Championship – Bullet Liner Championship weekend.

For Ruman the victory marked her eighth of the year, closing out 2015 in style for a driver who only needed to take the green flag to secure the TA class Championship. Robinson’s victory came from a last gasp pass over Adam Andretti for the win, and the Championship.

Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, began the race in second position, clinching the TA Class Championship as she passed the green flag – the added luxury of a dominant seven wins in the previous eleven rounds. With points calculations aside, Ruman was free to race without restraint and began her pursuit of pole sitter, and her once primary rival for the Championship, Paul Fix, in the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette. In the end Ruman overcame Doug Peterson, the previous Champion and race leader at the time, for first position with six laps to go – securing her eighth win of the 2015 Trans Am Season.

Ruman’s Championship is her career first, adding her name to the 49-year long list of Trans Am Champions, yet still blazing her own path, becoming the first woman in those 49 years to capture a Championship – making her mark on the Series’ history and that of professional road racing in North America. Ruman, following in her father’s footsteps, long-time Trans Am racer Bob Ruman, completed a nearly 20 year long journey for the family-based team out of Monroe Falls, Ohio.

"It’s an amazing feeling; I feel so blessed," said Ruman. "I’m so excited for my team and my parents – my mom and dad who have been at this for so long. Most of the guys on our team have been with us the whole time – nearly 20 years of Trans Am Racing. We’ve had McNichols onboard all these years, and this team together for so long…to finally bring it home after everything is just awesome."

Ruman has been racing in the Trans Am Series since 2005 and became the first woman to win a Trans Am race in the 2011 Championship Finale. From that point on Ruman has been a perennial top five contender and podium member, entering the 2015 season with a total of five wins in her Trans Am career – a mark she nearly doubled this season, pushing her total to 12 career Trans Am victories.

"I think finally it all just gelled and came together. We have a really well-prepared car. We switched to PME motors; they’ve been strong for us all year, that was a great move. My dad has dialed in the setup on the car; we’ve had it for three or four years now. I think finally all the pieces of the puzzle came together, and we had a really good year. I drove smart and we were there at the end when we needed to be. We had some absolutely dominant wins and some where we had to come from the back a few times. There was a little bit of everything, but it was just a fantastic year for us."

As for adding her name to the long list of Trans Am Championships, Ruman remained humble.

"You know," Ruman said, "I don’t think it has really sunk in yet. It’s a great list of names to be included with, the female aspect, being the first – it’s always fun to be the first at anything and to be amongst those drivers’ names is just a blessing."

Ruman was joined on the podium by Doug Peterson, in the No. 87 Cadillac CTS-V, who finished second and John Baucom, in the No. 86 Ford Mustang, who finished third. The podium was Peterson’s sixth of the year and the third for Baucom. The TA class top five was completed by Kerry Hitt, in the No. 19 Advanced Composites Cadillac CTS-V, and Simon Gregg, in the Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet C7.

Ruman finished the year with 345 points to take home the 3-Dimensional Services Trigon Trophy, and was followed by Paul Fix, with 311 points, and Baucom with 266 points to close out the Championship top three. Doug Peterson finished the year fourth in the Championship with 250 points while Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, finished fifth with 225.

Gar Robinson’s capture of the TA2 Championship was far less straightforward, entering the weekend 13 points behind two-time Champion Cameron Lawrence and just five ahead of Adam Andretti, driver of the No. 44 Engineered Components Chevrolet Camaro. However, when Lawrence started 26th, the result of an extremely brief second chance qualifying due to a substantial wreck in turn seven, Robinson was given an additional window of opportunity. Starting in fifth position, Robinson began his pursuit of both Adam Andretti, starting in second position, and polesitter Tony Buffomante, in the No. 36 BestLine Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang.

The front of the TA2 pack remained close throughout the race with Buffomante, Andretti, Robinson, Shane Lewis, Dillon Machavern, and a multitude of others all featuring in the top five. On the final restart of the race, Robinson remained in third, pursuing both Buffomante and Adam Andretti, now in first place. Robinson was able to pass Buffomante for second position, with Andretti still leading. If the order had remained the same Andretti would have clinched the Championship on tiebreakers.

Further down in the field Cameron Lawrence, in the No. 1 MOPAR Dodge Challenger, had charged up through the field into 11th position after only three laps; however the No. 1 began to experience mechanical issues forcing it to briefly pit. Lawrence again was faced with misfortune when the first full course caution came out, placing him behind the TA class leaders but in front of the TA2 class leaders – placing him a lap down and limiting his opportunity to move up the field once more, ultimately finishing 18th.

Later on in turn five with two laps to go, Robinson made his move, overtaking Andretti for the lead in turn. The move ended up being the one to capture the TA2 Championship, as Robinson began to pull away over the final lap and crossed the checkered flag to secure the victory and ensuing title.

"The emotions haven’t really caught up yet, said Robinson. "I can’t believe we’re finally here; our rookie year, two years ago, we thought about coming into the Series, last year we wanted to win a race, and the year after that, this year, we wanted to try and win the championship. And we actually did it!"

"The race was perfect – I think it was a better race than we had at Mid-Ohio. We ran through the final five laps of this race, they were just incredible. We were all so close and no one touched a door to each other, no one hit anyone. The fact that the front runners were able to race clean, the outcome was perfect – I couldn’t think of a better way to end the season!"

Robinson is also a second-generation Trans Am driver, following in his father’s footsteps in the No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, bearing the same livery and with many of the same crew members who worked on his father’s team in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

"The racing in TA2, and Trans Am, is just awesome. The cars are amazing; its inexpensive to run and the class of drivers you are up against, race in and race out, are at an incredible level – it’s been an amazing learning experience and it’s a fantastic Series to be a part of."

Andretti would end up being overtaken by Buffomante on the final lap, falling back to third, and second in the TA2 Championship. The victory was Robinson’s third of his rookie year and ninth podium appearance, as he finished the season with 298 points. Andretti would follow closely, just eight behind, with 290 to his name, while Lawrence finished the year with 288, 10 off of Robinson, and in third position. Robinson’s teammate, Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, would finish fourth in the Championship while fellow rookie Dillon Machavern, in the No. 25 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, captured fifth in the Championship.

The podium trio of Robinson, Buffomante and Andretti was followed by Joe Stevens, in the No. 11 MOPAR Dodge Challenger, who finished a career high fourth and Jordan Bernloehr, in the No. 07 Pro Kart Indoors Chevrolet Camaro, who also completed a career high finish in fifth.

The race also featured a record TA3 field with the International and American Muscle Groups combining to create a Series record 23-car field. Martin Ragginger, making his Trans Am debut in the No. 47 Foametix Porsche 997, and Dean Martin, in the No. 51 Picture Cars East Ford Mustang, captured victories in the International and American Muscle Groups, respectively, despite starting sixth and 13th in individual fields.

Both Ragginger and Martin were absolutely dominant throughout the weekend and showcase their abilities behind the wheel with Ragginger taking the lead after only two laps and Dean Martin making his way to the front of the American Muscle field after 11. Both also turned the fast lap and set track records for their classes with times of 1:52.718, by Ragginger, and 1:58.271, by Martin, on their way to victory.

Martin Ragginger was joined on the International Group podium by Frank Lussier, in the No. 53 NFS Autosport LLC/KSR Racing Dodge Viper, in second, and Fernando Seferlis, in the No. 28 Compulab Panama Aston Martin GT4, in third. Hugh Boocher, in the No. 4 Performance Driving Group/SDCE Chevrolet Corvette, finished fourth while Randy Kinsland, in the No. 41 Crossland Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, finished fifth in his Trans Am debut.

In the American Muscle Group, points-runner up Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Tremec/SKF/Backstreet Chevrolet Camaro, finished second, his eighth podium of the year, while Craig Capaldi, in the No. 8 Southeast Guardrail, secured third, his second podium in as many appearances, to join Martin on the podium.

The TA3 Championships were both secured at NOLA Motorsports Park in Round 10 of the 2015 Trans Am Championship, with Ernie Francis, Jr., securing his second consecutive TA3 American Muscle Championship and Lee Saunders capturing the International Group Championship.

The Trans Am Series will hold its year end gala tomorrow, Sunday, November 15th, to formally award all year-end trophies and additional accolades.

The Series will now begin preparations for its 50th Anniversary, the 2016 Trans Am Championship, with the first race slated for March 6, 2016, at Sebring International Raceway.

Race Results

Pos No. Class PIC Name Sponsor/Car Best Tm Pts
1 23 TA 1 Amy Ruman/Kent OH McNichols Company/Chevrolet Corvette 01:46.224 33
2 87 TA 2 Doug Peterson/Bonita Springs FL CTSV 01:45.992 29
3 86 TA 3 John Baucom/Matthews NC Mustang 01:47.372 25
4 19 TA 4 Kerry Hitt/Harrisburg PA Advanced Composite Products Inc./Cadillac CTSV 01:49.610 23
5 59 TA 5 Simon Gregg/Ponte Verde FL Derhaag Motorsports/Chevrolet Corvette 01:49.062 21
6 57 TA 6 David Pintaric/Canfield OH Kryderacing/Chevrolet Corvette 01:48.484 20
7 74 TA2 1 Gar Robinson (R)/San Antonio TX 74 Ranch Resort/Chevrolet Camaro 01:53.236 31
8 34 TA2 2 Tony Buffomante/Naperville IL Bestline Superior Lubricants/Ford Mustang 01:53.369 31
9 44 TA2 3 Adam Andretti/Brownsburg IN Engineered Components Company/Chevrolet Camaro 01:53.841 29
10 47 TA3I 1 Martin Ragginger/Walls Austria Foametix/Porsche 997 01:52.718 32
11 11 TA2 4 Joe Stevens (R)/Eden Prairie MN MOPAR/Dodge Challenger 01:54.071 23
12 07 TA2 5 Jordan Bernloehr (R)/Lakeville MN Prokart Indoors/BC Race Cars/Chevrolet Camaro 01:54.624 21
13 73 TA2 6 Kevin Poitras/Toronto Ont Canada Post Plastics/Ford Mustang 01:54.724 20
14 91 TA2 7 Joe Napoleon (R)/Magnolia TX TurnKeyIndustries/CommStateBank/Chevrolet Camaro 01:55.918 19
15 97 TA2 8 Tom Sheehan/Auburn NH LTK Insulation Technologies/Chevrolet Camaro 01:56.041 18
16 90 TA2 9 Justin Napoleon (R)/Magnolia TX TurnKeyIndustries/CommStateBank/Chevrolet Camaro 01:55.581 17
17 02 TA2 10 Brian Kubinski (R)/Shorewood IL CRP Racing/Chevrolet Camaro 01:55.638 16
18 48 TA2 11 Michael McGahern/Ottawa Ont Canada Ottawa Solar Power/BC RaceCars/Chevrolet Camaro 01:55.492 15
19 4 TA 7 Paul Fix/Williamsville NY Corvette 01:45.637 24
20 53 TA3I 2 Frank Lussier/Cary NC NFS Autosport LLC/KSR Racing/Dodge Viper 01:57.382 27
21 12 TA2 12 Jason Hart/Flower Mound TX MOPAR/Dodge Challenger 01:53.990 14
22 51 TA3A 1 Dean Martin (R)/Westland MI Picture Cars East/Ford Mustang 01:58.271 32
23 50 TA2 13 Bruce Nesbitt/Chicago IL BrakeOMeter/Ford Mustang 01:58.804 13
24 28 TA3I 3 Fernando Seferlis/Republic of Panama Compulab Panama/Aston Martin GT4 02:01.195 25
25 9 TA2 14 Keith Prociuk (R)/Deer Park IL HP Tuners/Chevrolet Camaro 01:55.110 12
26 85 TA3A 2 Todd Napieralski/Chelsea MiI Tremec/SKF/BackstreetPerformnc/Chevrolet Camaro 02:00.559 27
27 8 TA3A 3 Craig Capaldi/Richmond MI WolverineBronze/CapaldiRacing/Ford Mustang 02:02.673 25
28 52 TA2 15 George Lutich (R)/Palm Harbor FL Paragon Water/Ford Mustang 02:00.710 11
29 71 TA3A 4 Dave Ricci (R)/West Palm Beach FL SoutheastGuardrail/Chevrolet Camaro 02:03.598 23
30 25 TA2 16 Ron Keith/Shawnee KS OffsiteImageInc/Howe/Arbormaster/Ford Mustang 01:56.407 10
31 63 TA2 17 Tony Cook (R)/Hoover AL DiscoveryParts/AnesthesiaSvcs/Chevrolet Camaro 02:02.452 9
32 06 TA3A 5 Cameron Maugeri (R)/Ormand Beach FL BTI Motorsports/Ford Mustang 01:58.470 21
33 22 TA3A 6 Mel Shaw/Voorhees NJ Bay Investments/Ford Mustang 02:05.817 20
34 1 TA2 18 Cameron Lawrence/Windermere FL MOPAR/Dodge Challenger 01:53.827 8
35 79 TA3A 7 Jason Fichter (R)/Jupiter FL Turn 7 Motor Sports/Chevrolet Camaro 02:02.103 19
36 46 TA3I 4 Hugh Boocher (R)/Hollywood FL Performance Driving Group/SDCE/Chevrolet Corvette 02:07.333 23
37 41 TA3I 5 Randy Kinsland (R)/Whittier NC Crossland Motorsports/Chevrolet Corvette 01:59.228 22
38 08 TA3I 6 Michael Camus (R)/Miami Springs FL Epic Motorsports/MCM Holdings/BMW M3 02:00.124 20
39 29 TA 8 Andrew Romocki/Mississauga Ont Canada Rocanda/BC Race Cars/Ford Mustang 01:50.356 18
40 18 TA3A 8 Chris Outzen (R)/Sudbury MA Mustang 02:08.817 18
41 16 TA 9 RJ Lopez/Miami Beach FL Optica Lopez/Chevrolet Corvette 01:46.479 17
42 26 TA 10 Rafael Barcenas (R)/Panama Ron Abuelo/Chevrolet Corvette 01:53.163 16
43 20 TA3I 7 Russ Snow/Eden NC Guardian Services/AIM Sports/Chevrolet Corvette 01:59.398 21
44 43 TA3A 9 Mike Geldart (R)/Chester Springs PA Driving4Education/PhoenixPerf/Ford Mustang 02:00.874 17
45 24 TA2 19 Dillon Machavern (R)/Charlotte VT Heritage Motorsports/Ford Mustang 01:52.938 7
46 54 TA2 20 Tommy Archer/Duluth MN c3Controls/Chevrolett Camaro 01:53.430 6
47 2 TA2 21 Wally Dallenbach/Mooresville NC SolarFit/Chevrolet Camaro 01:55.337 5
48 0 TA3I 8 Randy Mueller (R)/Miami FL Epic Motorsports/MCM Holdings/BMW M3 01:57.683 9
49 60 TA2 22 Tim Gray/Eden Prairie MN Ryan Companies US Inc/Chevrolet Camaro 01:59.690 4
50 77 TA3A 10 Tim Rubright/Kutztown PA Mustang 02:02.531 16
51 98 TA3A 11 Ernie Francis Jr/Miami FL Breathless Racing/Chevrolet Camaro 01:57.867 18
52 13 TA 11 Daniel Urrutia (R)/Wellington FL Ferrea Racing Components/Chevrolet Corvette 15
53 35 TA 12 Mario Barcenas (R)/Panama City Panama Alfa Vigor/Financeria Turbo Cash/Chevrolet Corvette 01:49.277 14
54 84 TA3I 9 Lee Saunders/Lakeland FL Landsearch LLC/Dodge Viper 01:57.339 13
55 6 TA 13 Mickey Wright/Clearwater FL Fan Rag/Chevrolet Corvette 01:53.726 13
56 88 TA3A 12 Brian Kleeman (R)/Towson MD ICS Learning Group/Ford Mustang 01:59.460 15
57 00 TA2 23 Bobby Kennedy (R)/Daytona Beach FL Daytona1PerformanceLube/BemcoFab/Ford Mustang 01:55.623 3
58 31 TA3A 13 Adam Kreysar (R)/St Louis MO Breathless Racing/Ford Mustang 02:04.493 13
59 72 TA2 24 Shane Lewis (R)/Jupiter FL 74 Ranch Resort/Chevrolet Camaro 01:53.272 3
60 04 TA2 25 Tony Ave/Hurley Wi PD For Life/Chevrolet Camaro 01:52.713 1
61 5 TA2 26 Lawrence Loshak (R)/Milwaukee WI RaybestosPowertrain/Loshak Rcng/Ford Mustang 01:53.886 1
62 69 TA2 27 Aaron Quine (R)/Medina OH Spillfix/Katech/ShultzMizer/EEC/Chevrolet Camaro 01:57.907 1
63 17 TA 14 Oscar Teran (R)/Panama Oscar Teran Jaguar XKS 01:46.666 12
64 7 TA 15 Claudio Burtin/Rosario Argentina Bullet Liner/Chevrolet Corvette C7r 01:49.052 11
65 49 TA2 28 Nathan Stokey/Dover OH Archer Racing/Chevrolet Camaro 02:02.988 1
DNS 10 TA2 DNS Carlo Falcone/Antigua West Indies Antigua Pro Racing/Ford Mustang 0
DNS 70 TA2 DNS Johan Schwartz (R)/Huntersville NC Lamers Motor Racing/Ford Mustang 0
DNS 83 TA2 DNS Joey McColm/Toronto, Ont. Canada CBRT/RWR/Ford Mustang 0
DNS 89 TA3I DNS John Gutleber (R)/Homestead FL Breathless Racing/Chevrolet Corvette 0