John Thawley photo
When 2013 Trans Am champion Doug Peterson powered the No. 87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette past the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway at the NorthStar Battery Ctek Chargers 500, he captured his sixth win of the season, another victory at what has been a stellar season for both Peterson and the Trans Am Series.
?To be the Trans Am Champion and to have a victory at Daytona, it’s like a dream. It really is,? said Peterson. ?Daytona was the perfect end to the year; you get another dimension here, the speed, the danger”Daytona adds so much to racing and is a great addition for the series.?
While Peterson may have finished the race, it was his teammate, Tony Ave, in the No. 4 Lamers Motorsports/ PME Engines/ RPX Chevrolet Corvette, who started the race on pole. Ave led the race for 13 of the first 14 laps on track, in complete control and setting a race high lap time of 1:47.323 in the process.
Peterson’s victory, in his home state of Florida, was the eighth victory of the season for Tony Ave Racing, and his Championship was the third in the past four years for the Charlotte-based team.
?Over the course of this year, I’ve had outstanding equipment underneath me,? continued Peterson. ?I should have won every race this year, that’s how good the car underneath me is. Tony Ave is a great driver, and guys like Tony can race with anything underneath them and win races. I need a car that is spot on, and it always was”thanks to Tony Ave Racing and my sponsor, 3Dimensional.com. I’ve had a great team behind me, and despite what anyone tells you, racing is a team sport.?
Finishing behind Peterson was Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon Group Ford Mustang. Ebben began the race in third and, despite facing numerous challenges from third place finisher Charles Wicht, in the Crystal Clear Pools/ All-Safe Chevrolet Corvette, was able to power to a solid second place finish”which also lands him in third in the end-of-year points standings. Wicht’s third place finish was his first podium of the year and an impressive showing from the Florida based driver.
2012 series champion Simon Gregg, in the No. 1 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, finished fifth in the race and TA class, but his finish was strong enough to assure second place in the TA Championship, just ahead of Ebben.
TA2 was highlighted by yet another masterful performance by Cameron Lawrence, in the No. 11 Ctek/Motorstate/NorthStar Battery Chevrolet Camaro. Lawrence, already declared the 2013 TA2 Champion during round eight of the Trans Am Championship, continued to prove why he’s considered one of the best drivers in the TA2 class, the most rapidly growing class in road racing.
?2013 has been just amazing,? said Lawrence. ?We’ve had such a great year. I don’t know if it can get any better than this. It was just a flawless year. Being around Mr. Miller (Mike Miller, owner of Miller Racing) and Pete Halsmer, it’s been incredible to learn from them. My knowledge now, compared to the beginning of the year, is completely different. I’ve had great people working with me every step of the way.?
Second place in TA2 went to 2011 and 2012 TA2 Champion Bob Stretch, in the No. 98 Fix Rim Mobile/ Wheels America Chevrolet Camaro. The second place finish served as a strong rebound for the former champ, who was the victim, only two weeks ago, of a serious crash at Road Atlanta that sidelined him for Round 9.
Third in TA2 was Tom West, in the No. 56 Limerick Machine Company Chevrolet Camaro. The finish tied for his highest of the year, his other third place finish coming at Sebring International Raceway, and helped bookend what has been a tremendous rookie year for West and his crew. West began the race in fifth and dropped back as far as sixth, but was methodical in making his way through the field, moving up into third with only three laps to go.
TA3 American Muscle saw another Steve Kent, Jr., victory as he powered the No. 17 XLR8Diesel Trucks/ SKS Equipment Ford Mustang into the lead only two laps in, passing Ernie Francis, Jr., and the No. 8 Breathless Performance/ Hydraulic Jeans Chevrolet Camaro in the process.
?I geared up the car for this kind of race,? said Kent. ?I knew it was going to be a long hard race and the car held up, and we got the victory. Over the course of the year I’ve had three out of five wins, so I’m happy with the results.?
In second was Ernie Francis, Jr., who also set the fast lap of the TA3 class, a 2:00.680, in his first ever Trans Am race.
In third came Chuck Cassaro, in the No. 76 StackData/ Aeromotive/ Metallica Ford Mustang, a finish that saw him retain his crown as TA3 American Muscle Champion.
?I went into this year wanting to go two for two in Championships,? said Cassaro. ?It was much more difficult this year; we had a ton of great competitors join us that are just outstanding drivers”drivers that will put on a great show next year. Going into 2014 the Championship is up for just about anyone.?
TA3 International saw Tim Gray in the No. 60 Ryan Companies US Inc. Porsche GT3 Cup 997 take the victory, his second of the year”good enough for second in the TA3 International Championship, where David Seuss claimed the 2013 crown.