In the culmination of a career day, Shane Lewis, driver of the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, captured the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli TA2 class win in the Trans American Muscle Car Challenge at Circuit of The Americas.
The TA2 class exclusive races saw competitors from both Trans Am’s primary series and Trans Am’s West Coast Championship run in unison, combining for 31 cars taking the green flag. Over the course of the 2017 season, Lewis participated in both championships, in the East for Robinson Racing, in the West for Napoleon Motorsports, and was eligible for both divisions. As a result, Lewis secured a win in both championships, clinching the title in the West Coast and moving into second in Trans Am’s primary championship behind teammate Gar Robinson.
Earlier in the day Lewis also ran in the TA4 class, fielding the No. 22 Rennsport KC Ford Mustang, in the multi-class Trans American at COTA, where he was also victorious.
“It’s been an absolutely amazing two days,” said Lewis. “Two pole-positions, winning TA4, winning the TA2 race, winning the West Coast championship. I don’t know how you can replicate it, how you can beat it, or if it could be any better. I’m sorry to see my teammate out of the race; I’d have loved for it to have been a one-two for Robinson Racing.”
“This West Coast Championship is really about Napoleon Motorsports,” said Lewis. “Joe, Justin, Lynne, everyone there at Turnkey Industries, without them the West Coast title wouldn’t have happened. Originally we went to just ran a single race but later decided to have a go at the championship, and it was just an amazing effort they put forth to field me. And again, thanks to Robinson Racing for letting me run double-duty this weekend — I can’t thank them enough.”
Lewis, who started on pole, seemed destined for a second place finish, following teammate and race leader Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, for 19 of the 25 laps around COTA before the No. 74 began to heavily smoke on the 20th lap, forcing Robinson to pull over and conclude his day, finishing 25th in the combined TA2 field.
Despite seeing his day end early, Robinson still finished ahead of fellow title contender Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 BestLine Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang, who saw his day ended even earlier after contact on the first lap. By virtue of that finishing position and ensuing points, Robinson clinched the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli TA2 Championship, with a single race remaining.
The TA2 championship is Robinson’s second, his first coming his rookie season of 2015; and while the result was not quite how Robinson had pictured capturing the title, he was glad to see the title in hand.
“I’m a big fan of fire, but just not in my race car,” said Robinson. “It was a great points day for Robinson Racing. I know Shane made up enough to catch Tony for second in the championship, and I know he clinched the West Coast title, so I’m incredibly proud of him for that. If there was anyone else that could win it tonight, I would have wanted it to be Shane. He earned this.”
“I’m stoked for Robinson Racing and having captured the title,” said Robinson. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s like how Lewis Hamilton said it in Mexico, ‘it’s not the way I wanted to win it’ but we’re happy to be two-time champions. The Robinson team, minus tonight, haven’t made any mistakes all year and have kept the car finishing races.
“The team works so hard, I love my team, I’m so happy to be a part of it, and I’m so thankful to my dad for letting me have the opportunity to run with these fantastic guys—they really do work their asses off every week to get these cars rolling for races. It’s incredible, and my hat is off to them.”
Finishing second to Lewis on the podium was a resurgent Adam Andretti, in the No. 44 ECC/ Anchor Bolt and Screw Chevrolet Camaro, making his first podium appearance of 2017 after a three-race absence. Andretti began the race in seventh position but took third on the sixth lap, moving up to second on the 19th after Robinson’s exit.
Completing the podium was Cameron Lawrence, in the No. 79 Class Auto Centers Chevrolet Camaro, finishing in third position after starting the race dead last in 29th, after a broken axle in qualifying. Lawrence moved up seven positions over the first two laps and continuously climbed, securing fourth on the 18th lap before moving to third on the 19th. For his charge through the ranks Lawrence was awarded the COOLSHIRT Cool Move of the Race.
The TA2 combined top five was completed by Chris Cook, in the No. 21 Shockwave Suspension Seating Chevrolet Camaro, and Thomas Merrill, in the No. 81 Big Diehl Racing Ford Mustang— both, like Lewis, stood as West Coast entrants, finishing second and third within the contingent.
Curt Vogt, in the No. 23 Cobra Automotive Ford Mustang, finished a career high sixth and as a result his team was awarded the Pitboxes.com Crew of the Race while Don Barker was awarded the Traq Gear Crew Chief of the Weekend.
The race began an hour and fifteen minutes after its originally slated start time following delays from previous sessions; as a result the race was checkered following the completion of only 25 of its originally slated 30 laps due to darkness.
Out of the 30 TA2 cars entered for the event, eight were West Coast TA2 competitors, with West Coast podium finishers Shane Lewis, Chris Cook and Thomas Merrill finishing first, fourth and fifth in the combined field. Points were awarded to competitors based on their finish within their declared championship, not the combined field.
The following penalties were enforced by Trans Am Series Officials following the conclusion of the race: Jason Hart, in the No. 77, was penalized for avoidable contact and was placed behind the No. 34 on the results, the No. 12 of Peter Klutt was also penalized for avoidable contact and placed behind the No. 97 on the results.
Earlier in the day the Trans Am Series held an additional race, the Trans American from COTA, with Ernie Francis, Jr., Jason Daskalos and Shane Lewis taking class victories. Both events constituted Round 11 of the 2017 Trans Am Championship; full results from that competition can be found at http://www.gotransam.com.
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will now head to Daytona International Speedway for its 2017 season finale on Saturday, November 11th.