Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., completed this afternoon's final SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series qualifying session of 2011 in the same position he has in each of the previous seven qualifying sessions.
Ave took his eighth consecutive pole position in the No. 4 Lamers Racing/Beebe Racing/Optech/PME Chevrolet Corvette. Ave's best lap of 1:18.561 (116.393 mph) established a new Trans-Am track record at Road Atlanta. He goes in search of his seventh victory of the season – and his second in a row at Road Atlanta – in Friday's race.
"We've had a pretty good car in qualifying all year," Ave said. "We've worked pretty hard at qualifying. We went out and ran a couple laps and then came in. I'm just experimenting to see exactly when exactly the tires are at their best, so I wanted to go back out and get an idea. At Utah, we were able to go back out and go faster, so I thought I just would see what would happen when it's hotter out and it didn't work. It wasn't quite as good for me. I shut the motor off to check the jetting and stuff on the second run. I tried to do the last turn flat; because on new tires I thought I could, but I can't quite make it so I went off the road on my third lap. Otherwise, I would have been a little bit faster."
Joining Ave on the front row will be Mike Lewis, of Poway, Calif. Qualifying for his first Trans-Am race of the season, Lewis improved from third to second in the final moments of the session with a lap at 1:20.347 (113.806 mph) in the No. 12 Goodyear/Cyclo/Red Line Oil Jaguar XKR. Lewis heads into the race looking for his second victory in less than a week after taking the GT-1 victory at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America last Sunday.
"We wanted to be on the front row," said Lewis of his late flyer. "We were close and we don't know much about the (Goodyear) 430 tires. We've never run them and they're a little bit different, and I don't have many laps here. We figured it was worth the investment to go out and run a couple more and see what we could do. Hopefully it won't bite us in the race."
Starting third will be Amy Ruman, of Kent, Ohio, in the No. 23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette. Ruman posted a best lap at 1:20.471 (113.631 mph). Doug Peterson, of Rochester Hills, Mich., starts fourth at 1:20.722 (113.277 mph) in the No. 87 3Dimensional.com Jaguar XKR and Simon Gregg, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., was fifth in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette. Gregg's best lap was a 1:21.024 (112.855 mph).
Bob Stretch, of Arlington, Texas, took the pole in the Trans-Am 2 (TA2) class at 1:27.703 (104.261 mph) in the No. 98 Wheels America Racing Chevrolet Camaro. It was the sixth TA2 pole in seven tries for Stretch, who goes in search of his sixth class victory of the season on Friday. Stretch has already clinched the 2011 TA2 championship, but he expects a shootout in the season finale.
"It is a tougher field," Stretch said. "It's good to see a bunch of TA2 cars out here. There is pretty strong support down here in the Southeast, so we're glad to see that. We're just happy our car is doing well. Our car wasn't that good in (Turn) 1, so I've got a little bit of work to do. The rest of the track felt like it was really good, so we're really happy with it."
Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., will start second in TA2 after turning a best lap at 1:28.444 (103.387 mph) in the No. 40 PinnacleAutosports.com/Eagles Canyon Raceway/Petfinder.com Chevrolet Camaro. Tom Sheehan, of Auburn, N.H., will start third in TA2 at 1:29.267 (102.434 mph) in the No. 65 Guardian Angel Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
Scott Tucker, of Overland Park, Kan., took the pole in Global GT (GGT) at 1:33.665 (97.624 mph) in the No. 55 Level 5 Motorsports Ferrari 430. Charles Barnes, of Plano, Texas qualified second in GGT at 1:35.103 (96.148 mph) in the No. 49 Riverbend Sandler Pools/Pinnacle Porsche 996, but brought the session to a premature end with a crash on the front straight. Tim Gray, of Minneapolis, Minn., starts third in GGT at 1:35.870 (95.379 mph) in the No. 60 Ryan Companies Inc. Porsche 996.
Starting lineup for Friday's SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series Round 9 race at Road Atlanta, with position, class, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.
1, TA, (4), Tony Ave, Maiden, N.C., Chevrolet Corvette, 1:18.561, 116.393.
2, TA, (12), Mike Lewis, Poway, Calif., Jaguar XKR, 1:20.347, 113.806.
3, TA, (23), Amy Ruman, Kent, Ohio, Chevrolet Corvette, 1:20.471, 113.631.
4, TA, (87), Doug Peterson(R), Rochester Hills, Mich., Jaguar XKR, 1:20.722, 113.277.
5, TA, (59), Simon Gregg, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Chevrolet Corvette, 1:21.024, 112.855.
6, TA, (00), Doug Harrington(R), Kemah, Texas, Chevrolet Corvette, 1:21.178, 112.641.
7, TA, (22), Carlos de Quesada(R), Coral Gables, Fla., Jaguar XKR, 1:21.389, 112.349.
8, TA, (86), John Baucom, Charlotte, N.C., Ford Mustang, 1:22.020, 111.485.
9, TA, (70), David Jans(R), Mundelein, Ill., Ford Mustang, 1:23.228, 109.866.
10, TA, (18), Daniel Ramoutarsingh, La Romain, Trinidad, Jaguar XKR, 1:23.237, 109.855.
11, TA, (99), Zach Monette(R), Milton, Ga., Ford Mustang, 1:23.912, 108.971.
12, TA, (17), Claudio Burtin(R), Cartersville, Ga., Ford Mustang, 1:24.189, 108.612.
13, TA, (95), Kevin Rich(R), Round Rock, Texas, Ford Mustang, 1:25.000, 107.576.
14, TA, (77), Glen Jung, Osteen, Fla., Mazda RX-7, 1:25.958, 106.377.
15, TA, (28), Paige Alexander(R), Milton, Ga., Chevrolet Corvette C6, 1:26.548, 105.652.
16, TA, (35), Bob Monette(R), Milton, Ga., Ford Mustang, 1:26.959, 105.153.
17, TA2, (98), Bob Stretch(R), Arlington, Texas, Chevrolet Camaro, 1:27.703, 104.261.
18, TA2, (40), Mike Skeen, Charlotte, N.C., Chevrolet Camaro, 1:28.444, 103.387.
19, TA2, (65), Tom Sheehan(R), Auburn, N.H., Chevrolet Camaro, 1:29.267, 102.434.
20, TA, (25), Mike Kelly(R), Braselton, Ga., Chevrolet Corvette, 1:30.613, 100.912.
21, TA2, (03), Cameron Lawrence(R), Windermere, Fla., 1:31.525, 99.907.
22, TA2, (19), Ricky Sanders(R), Fayetteville, Ga., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1:32.085, 99.299.
23, GGT, (55), Scott Tucker(R), Overland Park, Kansas, Ferrari 430, 1:33.665, 97.624.
24, TA2, (79), John Gary(R), Grapevine, Texas, Pontiac GTO, 1:34.383, 96.881.
25, TA2, (29), Lee Arnold(R), Naples, Fla., Dodge Intrepid, 1:34.530, 96.731.
26, TA2, (32), Bill Prietzel(R), Richfield, Wis., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1:35.022, 96.230.
27, GGT, (49), Charles Barnes(R), Plano, Texas, Porsche 996, 1:35.103, 96.148.
28, GGT, (60), Tim Gray(R), Minneapolis, Minn., Porsche 996, 1:35.870, 95.379.
29, TA2, (53), Mel Shaw(R), Fayetteville, Ga., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1:39.748, 91.671.
30, TA2, (96), Chris Liesfeld(R), Richmond, Va., Chevrolet Camaro, 1:47.778, 84.841.
31, GGT, (08), Jimmy Burke(R), Cumming, Ga., Porsche 996, no time.