LEXINGTON, Ohio – Veteran Tony Ave mastered changing conditions to score his 38th career pole in Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli completion, leading Friday’s qualifying at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Ave will lead the field of 24 competitors in the TA, XGT. SGT and GT classes in Saturday’s 45-lap race, set to take the green flag at 1:35 p.m. ET.
Driving the No. 4 Lamers Motor Racing Corvette, the 51-year-old driver from Hurley, Wisconsin turned a lap of 2:02.728-seconds on the 15-turn, 2.4-mile circuit.
The TA competitors were gridded for the 15-minute session on slick tires, when rain began to fall on the circuit. Most drivers changed to Pirelli wets before their first lap, but Ave gambled with the slicks. It only took him one lap before he made his way back to the pits to make the switch to rain tires. Ave went off track on his first lap out, and then ran his pole-winning lap in the rain.
"The qualifying session was very slick," Ave said. “I was hoping it was dry enough on the back to use slick tires but I couldn't even keep it on the road. We switched to rain tires and were able to get a good lap in. This morning we found an electrical issue so the car doesn't run well on the straightaway. With the rain, it has not affected us as much. It will be fixed for tomorrow and we will see how we do. It feels great to be back in a Trans Am car and kick off the weekend with a pole."
Ave’s time was well off Lawrence Loshak’s track record of 1:21.613-seconds, set in 2018 in a Camaro.
Ave will be joined on the front row by Tomy Drissi, who ran a quick time of 2:02.728-seconds in the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro.
Making up the second row will be Simon Gregg in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Camaro with this quick time of 2:03.078-seconds, and Chris Dyson, 2:03.872-seconds in the No. 20 Plaid Ford Mustang.
Ernie Francis Jr. – going for his seventh-consecutive Mid-Ohio victory – rallied late in the session to move from 12th fastest with one minute remaining to score fifth on the grid with this third and final lap of 2:06.145-seconds in the No. 98 One South Florida Wealth Advisors Mustang
"We had some issues with switching to tires that we have not run on the car in a long time, if ever," said Francis, who won at Mid-Ohio in all six of his championship seasons. “We ran into an issue that we didn't expect that took us a long time to figure out, which ran out the clock for getting a good qualifying lap. It is what it is and that type of thing happens in racing sometimes. Starting the race tomorrow in the top five allows me to make a race out of it as I work my way to the front."
The SGT, XGT and GT competitors held separate qualifying following the TA drivers, with lightning halting the session prior to the scheduled 15 minutes.
Mark Brummond won the SGT pole with a lap of 2:08.845-seconds in the No. 24 Garage Door/Dynamic Auto Tune BMW M4 GT4. Making his first Trans Am start in his first visit to the circuit, Brummond managed to out-qualify the faster XGT cars.
“I was able to get in six or seven laps before it got too crazy, but I absolutely love racing in the rain," said Brummond, a 2018 pole winner in Pirelli World Challenge competition. “I always do well I the rain, and getting the lucky draw of my best environment for me in my first race with Trans Am is awesome to be the fastest car on the track. My first qualifying was phenomenal. Mid-Ohio is a great track that I love in the dry and wet. We had fun today, and I look forward to the race tomorrow."
“I absolutely love racing in the rain," said Brummond, a 2018 pole winner in Pirelli World Challenge competition. “This track is phenomenal in the wet."
Sebring winner Lee Saunders was second, 2:14.847-seconds in the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper, followed by New York City driver Adrian Wlostoski, 2:26.516-seconds in the No. 96 F.A.S.T. Auto Racing Mustang.
Tim Horrell captured his second-consecutive pole in the GT class, turning a lap of 2:11.371-seconds in the No. 45 Breathless Racing Porsche GT4 Clubsport. He was followed by Aponte-Rios Racing BMW E92 M3 teammates Miguelangel Aponte-Rios and Gabriel Jasper.
XGT qualifying saw Ken Thwaits fastest with a lap of 2:13.068-seconds in the No. 5 Franklin Road Apparel Audi R8 LMS Ultra. Sebring pole and race winner Eric Joiner was second in the No. 10 Championship Coffees and Tool Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The TA2Â® class will hold a separate 45-lap, 100-mile race. The class qualifies on Saturday at 5:55 p.m., with the race Sunday at 1:45 p.m.
Saturday TA/XGT/SGT/GT opens the day with a 100-mile (or 65 minutes) feature starting at 1:25 p.m. Eastern, followed by a 20-minute TA2Â® qualifying at 5:55 p.m. Eastern. The weekend concludes on Sunday with the TA2Â® 100-mile race (or 65 minutes) at 1:45 p.m. Eastern.
|1||4||TA||1||Tony Ave/Hurley Wisc||Lamers Motor Racing Chevrolet Corvette||2:01.925||0.000||0.000|
|2||8||TA||2||Tomy Drissi/Los Angeles Calif||Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro||2:02.728||0.803||0.803|
|3||59||TA||3||Simon Gregg/Ponte Vedra Bch Fla||Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro||2:03.078||1.153||0.350|
|4||20||TA||4||Chris Dyson/Poughkeepsie N.Y.||Plaid Ford Mustang||2:03.872||1.947||0.794|
|5||98||TA||5||Ernie Francis Jr/Southwest Ranches Fla||OneSouthFloridaWealthAdvisors Mustang||2:06.145||4.220||2.273|
|6||87||TA||6||Doug Peterson/Bonita Springs Fla||3-Dimensional Services Chevrolet Camaro||2:06.916||4.991||0.771|
|7||23||TA||7||Amy Ruman/Stow Ohio||McNichols Co Chevrolet Corvette||2:12.451||10.526||5.535|
|8||19||TA||8||Kerry Hitt/Harrisburg Penn||Advanced Composite Cadillac CTS-V||2:15.247||13.322||2.796|
|9||21||TA||9||Humaid Al Masaood/London England||Amamos LaVida Tequilla Ford Mustang||2:15.405||13.480||0.158|
|10||86||TA||10||John Baucom/Charlotte N.C.||BaucomMtrsprts/RoadRacePart Mustang||2:21.342||19.417||5.937|
|11||57||TA||11||David Pintaric/Canfield Ohio||Kryderacing/Ave Motorsports Ford Mustang||2:24.394||22.469||3.052|
|12||9||TA||12||Jeff Hinkle/Destin Fla||Dodge Challenger||2:46.126||44.201||21.732|
|13||30||TA||13||Richard Grant/Germantown Tenn||Grant Racing Chevrolet Corvette||No Time||–||–|
|14||24||SGT||1||Mark Brummond/Charlotte NC||GarageDoorDr/DynamicBMW M4 GT4||2:08.845||0.000||0.000|
|15||45||GT||1||Tim Horrell/Parkland Fla||Breathless Racing Porsche GT4 Clubsport||2:11.371||2.526||2.526|
|16||5||XGT||1||Ken Thwaits/Brentwood Tenn||Franklin Road Apparel Audi R8 LMS Ultra||2:13.086||4.241||1.715|
|17||84||SGT||2||Lee Saunders/Lakeland Fla||Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper||2:14.847||6.002||1.761|
|18||10||XGT||2||Erich Joiner/Torrance Calif||Championship Coffees Porsche 911 GT3 R||2:20.495||11.650||5.648|
|19||96||SGT||3||Adrian Wlostowski/Maspeth N.Y.||F.A.S.T. Auto Racing Ford Mustang||2:26.516||17.671||6.021|
|20||00||GT||2||Miguelangel Aponte-Rios/Rowley Mass||Aponte-Rios Racing BMW E92 M3||2:41.749||32.904||15.233|
|21||03||GT||3||Gabriel Jasper/Toms River NJ||Aponte-Rios Racing BMW E92 M3||2:48.420||39.575||6.671|
|22||07||GT||4||Michael Saia/Danvers Mass||Bimmerworld/Cohesion BMW E92 M3||2:51.609||42.764||3.189|
|23||28||SGT||4||Lou Gigliotti/Princeton Tex||G2 Performance Chevrolet Corvette||No Time||–||–|
|24||6||SGT||5||Carey Grant/Eads Tenn||Grant Racing 2 Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup||No Time||–||–|
|25||55||SGT||6||Milton Grant/Germantown Tenn||Sentry Self Storage Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup||No Time||–||–|