Monday, October 18, 2010

Road Atlanta: Series round 10 finale preview.


The battle for the 2010 SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series championship will reach its conclusion at Road Atlanta when Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., and RJ Lopez, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, square off against each other and the rest of the Trans-Am field in the 2010 season finale. The 36-lap (91.44-mile) race takes the green flag at 4:35 p.m. ET on Friday, October 1.

Driving the No. 4 Beebe's Boden Masonry/Lamers Racing/McMahon Group/Optech/PME Chevrolet Corvette, Ave heads into the finale leading Lopez by 135 points, 1,146-1,011, and will clinch the title if he scores just four championship points. Ave could wrap up the title as early as qualifying, which is worth eight points for the pole-winner, six points for the second-place qualifier and four points for third on the grid.

Ave has qualified for a series leading six pole positions this season (he also started on pole last time out at Virginia International Raceway when qualifying was set on points due to a rainout of qualifying) and has started third or better in every race this season. He also leads the series with five victories from the first nine races of the 2010 season. However, he will look to wrap up the title using a different car than the one he has raced all season, as he sold the car after the most recent Trans-Am race at VIR two weeks ago.

While he's admittedly a long shot for the 2010 Trans-Am title, Lopez has already had an outstanding Trans-Am season in the No. 6 Disco 106/ECR Engines/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette. Lopez owns two victories this season, including a thrilling, last-lap win at VIR to keep his championship hopes alive, and he has finished on the podium in seven of nine races this season.

Tomy Drissi, of Hollywood, Calif., won the 2009 Trans-Am Series title and has switched his car number from five to one for the season finale at Road Atlanta. He will pilot the No. 1 RSR Jaguar XKR as he looks to bookend his 2010 season with victories, as he opened the year with a victory at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

This weekend's field also includes a number of drivers looking to wrap up their seasons with another podium result. Amy Ruman, of Kent, Ohio, has finished third in three of her five starts thus far this season. She returns this weekend in the No. 23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette. Ruman also finished third in last year's Trans-Am race at Road Atlanta.

Simon Gregg, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., owns two podium finishes this season with third-place runs at Brainerd and Lime Rock Park in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette. Gregg's father, Peter Gregg, won the inaugural Trans-Am race at Road Atlanta in 1973.

Doug Harrington, of Kemah, Texas, took his first career Trans-Am podium result in just his second series start with a third-place run at VIR. He is back this week in the No. 00 Pinnacle Autosports Chevrolet Corvette.

Others to watch this weekend include Bobby Sak, John Baucom, Glen Jung and Mike Skeen. Sak, of Kalamazoo, Mich., will be making his third consecutive Trans-Am start aboard the No. 17 The Pita Pit/The Grotto at Capone's Chevrolet Corvette. Sak's best result thus far was a fourth-place run at VIR.

Trans-Am veteran Baucom, of Charlotte, N.C., is back for his second straight start this weekend in the No. 86 Ford Mustang. Baucom finished ninth at VIR in his first Trans-Am start of the season at VIR.

Jung, of Osteen, Fla., will make his fifth start of the season this weekend in the No. 77 Rotary X-treme/MAZDASPEED/Goodyear Mazda RX-7. His best result to date was a fourth-place run at Toronto.

Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., returns for his third Trans-Am run of the season in the No. 81 ECR Chevrolet Corvette from Agee Racing. Skeen qualified second for each of his first two starts this season at Miller Motorsports Park and Road America, and turned the fastest lap in last year's Trans-Am race at Road Atlanta en route to a second-place result.

The Agee Racing team will be contesting its final Trans-Am event at Road Atlanta. Team principal Mickey Agee developed a passion for road racing after attending the race at Sebring in 1959 and fielded Trans-Am and IMSA cars throughout the 1970s and '80s. Agee has now retired, but wanted the team to compete in one final race.

Four drivers are entered for their first Trans-Am series starts of the season at Road Atlanta. Trans-Am veteran Michael Lewis, of Poway, Calif., is slated to drive the No. 12 Goodyear/Cyclo Jaguar XKR. Also entered for their debut and hailing from Milton, Ga. are Paige Monette in the No. 28 Optech Monette/Roush Yates Engines Ford Mustang
, Bob Monette in the No. 35 Optech Monette/Roush Yates Engines Ford Mustang, and Zach Monette in the No. 99 Optech Monette/Roush Yates Engines Ford Mustang.

This weekend will also see the debut of the new Trans-Am 2 (TA2) and Trans-Am 3 (TA3) classes, which will run on an exhibition basis this week in preparation for the 2011 season. There are eight TA2 entries and one TA3 entry, bringing the total number of cars entered to 23.
-source: scca pro racing.

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