Tony Ave Takes Tricky Trans Am Pole at Mid-Ohio

Tony Ave
Tony Ave

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 TA2® 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 TA2® qualifying at 5:55 p.m. Eastern. The weekend concludes on Sunday with the TA2® 100-mile race (or 65 minutes) at 1:45 p.m. Eastern.

Qualifying Results

Pos No. CL PiC Drivers Car Time Behind Gap
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

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