Paul Fix and Tony Buffomante captured the final pole positions of the 2015 Trans Am championship for their respective classes during Fast Five qualifying at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for Round 12, Bullet Liner Championship Weekend. They were joined atop of the charts by Martin Ragginger and Dean Martin, who set the fast times for the TA3 International and American Muscle Groups. Together, all four drivers will lead the 70-car TA2 field past the green flag on Saturday, for the final Trans Am race of the year.
For Fix, in the No. 4 StopFlex.com Chevrolet Corvette, the pole was his sixth of the year, a continuation of the qualifying excellence he has displayed throughout the 2015 Trans Am Season. Fix’s time of 1:44.946 edged out Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, for the coveted starting position. Ruman will start in second position alongside Fix after turning a 1:45.263 lap of her own—giving fans the opportunity to witness one final battle between the yearlong front runners.
Ruman’s qualifying position secures more than just second position in Saturday’s race, it puts her in prime position to secure the 2015 TA Class championship by simply taking the green flag. While disappointing for Fix, the only driver still mathematically capable of catching Ruman, it allows both drivers to race without the restriction of points calculations, knowing both their positions are secured on the year end podium. This being the final race between the two drivers who have dominated the TA class from start to finish this year.
Doug Peterson, in the No. 87 3Dimensional.com Cadillac CTS-V, was third in the qualifying session with a time of 1:45.615, while RJ Lopez, in the No. 16 Optica Lopez Chevrolet Corvette, and John Baucom, in the No. 86 RoadRaceParts.com Ford Mustang, rounded out the “Fast Five” positions with times of 1:45.996 and 1:46.453, respectively.
Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 BestLine Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang, captured his third career pole position in the TA2 class, and the first of the year, securing his start at the front of the 31-car TA2 field. The pole marks the second consecutive pole for the Mike Cope Racing team in TA2 and puts him in prime position to add to his podium tally for the year. Buffomante’s time, a 1:51.167, set a new TA2 track record, breaking the previous track record, a 1:51.314, set last year by two-time defending champion Cameron Lawrence.
Starting alongside Buffomante in the TA2 class will be championship contender Adam Andretti, in the No. 44 Engineered Components Company Camaro, as he looks to maximize his points in a final-gasp challenge for the TA2 championship. While the cards will definitely have to fall in Andretti’s favor, he enters the race knowing that the No. 44 is in prime position to do its part after putting in a 1:51.317 lap in qualifying—a fine follow up to his victory at COTA last weekend.
Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, also showcased his knowledge around the Daytona road course with a time of 1:51:718, narrowly edging out Tommy Archer, in the No. c3controls Chevrolet Camaro, who turned a 1:51.749, for third position on the starting grid.
Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, made his own mark in qualifying with a 1:51.850, securing two spots in the Fast Five for Robinson Racing. Robinson will continue in his own championship hunt, knowing he needs to close the gap on Cameron Lawrence by the end of the race to capture what would be his first Trans Am championship.
TA3 also featured in qualifying with a Series record 22 entries participating in the session. The International Group was led by Trans Am debutant Martin Ragginger, in the No. 47 Foametix Porsche 997, who turned a 1:55.382, to edge out fellow International Group competitors Lee Saunders, in the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper, and Russ Snow, in the No. 20 Guardian Services/AIM Sports Chevrolet Corvette, for the top spot. Saunders, the recently crowned TA3 International champion turned a 1:55.589 to his credit, just short; while Snow rounded out the TA3 Fast Five with a time of 1:57.593.
Dean Martin, in the No. 51 Picture Cars East Ford Mustang, set the fast lap for the American Muscle group with a time of 1:55.558, just short of Ragginger’s time. Two-time TA3 American Muscle champion, Ernie Francis, Jr., was second fastest in the group with a time of 1:56.788 as he continues his title winning campaign in search of his ninth win of the year.
The Trans Am Series will return to the track for a second practice tomorrow afternoon at 12:30 p.m. ET, followed immediately by “Second Chance” qualifying at 12:55 p.m., allowing drivers to attempt to improve their qualifying time up to sixth position in their respective classes by forfeiting their previous times.
One name to keep an eye on will be that of Cameron Lawrence, driver of the No. 1 MOPAR Dodge Challenger, the TA2 class current points leader and two-time defending champion who was amongst notable absentees from today’s qualifying session. Lawrence’s eyes will doubtlessly be fixed on that sixth starting position, as he continues towards his goal of capturing a third consecutive championship.