LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 23, 2015) – Paul Fix and Tony Ave shared the spoils with overall victories at Lime Rock Park; as the Trans Am Series held two independent races, The 3-Dimensional Services Muscle Car Challenge and Next Dimension 100, constituting Round 4 of the 2015 Trans Am Championship.
For Fix, driver of the No. 4 StopFlex.com/TheCarCoach.com Chevrolet Corvette, the victory marked his third in a row at the Connecticut track where he showed his east coast dominance with yet another flag-to-flag victory.
“I love Lime Rock,” said Fix. “I’ve been racing here since the 80’s; it’s a home track to me. When you get into a rhythm here, you can have a fantastic time. I know it so well; but while it’s a busy and complicated track, I’m very comfortable and relaxed on it—so that’s a big bonus to me. When I’m on pole, I know that, unless the car has issues or there’s something unforeseen on track, I have a strong chance on winning. Amy still has a lead on us, and I’m still a little deficient on points; so we’re going to keep on focusing on getting better and better and keep on in our pursuit of the Championship.”
The victory was Fix’s first on the year, but his fourth podium. He closed the gap on current points leader Amy Ruman to 12, removing 9 points from his deficit.
Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon Group Ford Mustang, finished several car lengths behind Fix, securing second place in the race, strong enough to move him up to third in the Championship points standings. Current points leader Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, completed a strong charge from the back of the field, courtesy of contact on the first lap of the race, with a third place finish—salvaging a podium finish and a solid increase to her points total.
John Baucom in the No. 86 Roadraceparts.com/ Baucum Motorsports Ford Mustang, finished fourth; while Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, finished fifth.
In The 3-Dimensional Services Muscle Car Challenge, it was Tony Ave, driver of the No. 70 Lamers Motor Racing Ford Mustang, who emerged victorious in the 23-car TA2 class field, capturing his first win of the year and first career victory in the TA2 class. Ave, a two-time TA class Champion, transitioned to the TA2 class at the beginning of the 2015 season and has, until now, worked towards building momentum on the season.
“Our race went about how we expected,” said Ave. “But this class is super competitive; it’s not like with Paul (Fix) where I know if the car is ok he’s going to win the race because he’s so good here—I was relaxed about his race. But with my race, it’s a little different. There are ten or twelve guys who are all really good, and they all have about the same plan. We run bias ply tires so you want to wait until the end, and it just worked out that I was able to pick my way through when other guys had trouble. We’ve been fast enough to win before this year but have ended up having issues; fortunately, here it seemed that other guys were using up their tires earlier than we thought, so with about 16 laps to go I was able to take the lead and hold it.”
Ave was followed past the checkered flag by 20-year-old Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Unifirst/ PPG Ford Mustang, who celebrated his 20th birthday by securing his third consecutive second place finish of his rookie year. Kevin Poitras, driver of the No. 73 Post Plastics Ford Mustang, was third in the session after a very strong outing where he led 28 laps of the 67-lap race.
Poitras’ Mike Cope teammates Scott Heckert, driver of the No. 52 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang, and JJ Haley finished fourth and fifth. Both drivers are rookies to the Series and Lime Rock was Heckert’s first Trans Am appearance; together, they and Machavern made a strong showing for the younger contingent of Trans Am drivers, with all three under the age of 25.
Paul Fix’s and Tony Ave’s victories saw Tony Ave Racing sweep both TA and TA2 class victories, becoming the first Trans Am team to win both classes on a weekend.
Featuring alongside the TA class was the TA3 class, with both the International Group and American Muscle Group participating.
Ernie Francis, Jr., driver of the No. 98 Breathless Performance Chevrolet Camaro, claimed his second consecutive victory in the American Muscle Group, piloting the No. 9 to his second win of the season—and by a wide margin.
“Lime Rock is one of those tracks where you can get into a rhythm,” said Francis. “And when you get into that rhythm and you start turning those consistent laps you can build up a pretty big margin. I was able to keep everything under control and build up a large margin; then it was a clear path to victory. It’s great to get a win and great to share the podium with my teammate Mel Shaw.”
Christopher DeSalvo, in the No. 61 Baucom Motorsports/ Ford Mustang, finished second to Francis for his third podium of the year; while Francis’ teammate Mel Shaw, in the No. 22 Bay Investments Ford Mustang, finished third as Breathless Performance captured two of the three podium spots for the American Muscle Group.
TA3’s International Group saw another team dominant on the podium with Epic Motorsports’ Randy Mueller, in the No. 0 Epic Motorsports/ MCM Holdings BMW M3, and Michael Camus, in the No. 08 Epic Motorsports/ MCM Holdings BMW M3, taking first and second for the duo’s first podium appearances of the year.
“Although we didn’t qualify where we wanted, the race certainly ended up going our way,” said Mueller. “We had to work to manage traffic for sure; this track is always busy just with all the turns, but we also had to constantly mange the TA cars going by and some of the lapped traffic. We had to manage some slower, lapped, traffic as well.”
Defending TA3 International Champion Jason Berkeley, in the No. 67 BMG Management Chevrolet Corvette, captured third in the race—securing his second consecutive podium and additional points towards his title defense.
Photos by Andrew Henderson, May 2015
Words by Trans Am PR
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