Tracy's Trans Am debut set for this weekend at Road Atlanta

Tracy's Trans Am debut set for this weekend at Road Atlanta

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

Tracy's Trans Am debut set for this weekend at Road Atlanta

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The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli heads to Road Atlanta with 48 entries in tow for this weekend’s Georgia Speedfest, Round 2 of the 2018 Trans Am Championship, March 29-31. The event will mark the Trans Am debut of IndyCar legend Paul Tracy, making a one-off start in the TA2 category.

The event will feature two 101.6-mile, 40-lap races on the 12-turn Road Atlanta course, a multi-class TA, TA3 and TA4 race and a TA2 class exclusive Muscle Car Challenge powered by AEM. The weekend marks the first international of this event, which features the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association and International GT, another joint weekend in the Trans Am and SVRA event formula. This marks the 10th consecutive annual appearance by Trans Am at Road Atlanta, despite the new event weekend.

In 2017 Ernie Francis Jr., captured the second TA class win of his career at Road Atlanta, emerging with the victory after a mechanical failure by race leader Justin Marks. Francis, now the defending TA class champ and driver of the No. 98 FramelessShowerDoors.com Ford Mustang, will gun for a second Trans Am win of 2018— following a victory at the series’ Sebring opener earlier this month.

Among those expected to challenge Francis for the top spot on the TA class podium are Chris Dyson and Lawrence Loshak. Dyson, driving the No. 20 CD Racing Ford Mustang, debuted his new team and car at Sebring, starting the race in fourth position and finishing second. In his American Le Mans Series career, Dyson enjoyed success at Road Atlanta including a 2009 victory and seven top-three finishes – experience that should translate well to his new TA effort.

Lawrence Loshak, in the No. 2 Pennzoil/ ETE Chevrolet Camaro, is another newcomer to the TA class, running with the Burtin Racing team of nearby Alpharetta, Georgia. Loshak, who moved from the TA2 class to TA, began the season with a fifth place finish following up on a second place TA debut at Circuit of The Americas to close out 2017.

Trans Am veterans David Pinatric, in the No. 57 Kryderacing Cadillac CTS-V, and Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, both enjoyed strong outings at Sebring, finishing third and fourth, respectively. Pintaric also enjoyed a third place finish at Road Atlanta in 2017.

Road Atlanta has been the scene of multiple successes for Amy Ruman and the Ruman Racing team. Ruman’s first career victory came at Road Atlanta in 2011, and her 2015 and 2016 victories on the Georgia track paved the way for her two consecutive Trans Am championships. Last year, in the midst of a season marred by mechanical issues and poor luck, Road Atlanta offered Ruman respite— a second place finish, one of two podium finishes in 2018. After an equally frustrating Sebring opener that saw the Stow, Ohio, driver finish 15th after body damage on the first lap, the familiarity of Road Atlanta may be just the tonic Ruman needs.

While Marc Miller, in the No. 12 Berryman/ Prefix Dodge Challenger, set the bar for newcomers to the TA2 class in 2018 with a Sebring victory, two more names will try their luck in the Muscle Car Challenge powered by AEM, amid the 26-car TA2 entry: Paul Tracy and Misha Goikhberg.

Tracy will drive the No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Chevrolet Camaro (pictured above) for team owner/driver Doug Peterson, in a one-off appearance. Tracy’s return to behind the wheel will see him paired with another fellow open wheel competitor, Rafa Matos, who finished second at Sebring in the No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Chevrolet Camaro, giving the 3-Dimensional team a dangerous pairing and two podium threats.

The Road Atlanta event will mark Tracy’s Trans Am debut; however, the Scottsdale, Arizona resident has plenty of experience in formats other than open-wheel including Can-Am, Grand-Am and NASCAR.

Sports car veteran Misha Goikhberg will join BC Race Cars at Road Atlanta in the No. 25 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro. Like Tracy, the event will mark Goikhberg’s Trans Am and TA2 debut, a deviation from his experience in the IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship where he has 34 starts to his name— including two seventh place finishes in the Prototype class at Daytona International Speedway and Sebring International Raceway this year.

Despite all the new names in the TA2 field, a favorite to get a result at Road Atlanta remains a veteran: Tony Buffomante. For the past two seasons, the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang has been dominant at Road Atlanta with Buffomante behind the wheel, starting on pole in both 2016 and 2017 and leading every lap to an ensuing pair of victories.

Other TA2 veterans to watch include driver of the No. 92 Turn Key Industries Chevrolet Camaro Shane Lewis, who finished second at Road Atlanta in 2017, NASCAR Camping World Trucks competitor Justin Haley, in the No. 26 Mike Cope Ford Mustang, Scott Lagasse, Jr., in the No. 95 M1 Fastrack Chevrolet Camaro, and Keith Prociuk, in the No. 9 HP Tuners Chevrolet Camaro, coming off a strong fifth place finish at Sebring.

In TA3, the Fall-Line Motorsports trio of Mark Boden, Tim Kezman and Tom Herb return to action at Road Atlanta after a podium sweep at Sebring to commence the 2018 season. Boden, the 2017 champ, opened the year with a Sebring victory in the No. 46 Fall-Line Porsche 991 GT3, winning a battle with Kezman, in the No. 16 Fall-Line Prosche 991 GT3, who was forced to pit with a low tire before recovering to finish third.

Challenging the Fall-Line contingent will be four additional TA3 competitors. The Grant Racing team of Milton Grant, in the No. 55 Sentry Self Storage Porsche 991.1, and Carey Grant, in the No. 5 Sentry Self Storage Porsche 997.1, will both be in action, as will be rookie Alline Cipriani, in the No. 60 Ginetta G55, and Dave Ricci, in the No. 71 Florida Roadway Signs Chevrolet Camaro.

As of the publication of this release, Andrew Aquilante, in the No. 32 Phoenix Performance Chevrolet Camaro SS, stands the single entrant in the TA4 class.

Fans can keep up with the event and all of The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli at http://www.gotransam.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/gotransam and on Twitter at @gotransam.

Event Schedule

Thursday March 29
11:25 AM — 11:50 AM TA2 Test 1
11:50 AM — 12:15 PM TA/TA3/TA4 Test 1
4:40 PM — 5:10 PM TA2 Test 2
5:10 PM — 5:40 PM TA/TA3/TA4 Test 2

Friday March 30
11:00 AM — 11:30 AM TA2 Practice
11:55 AM — 12:25 PM TA/TA/TA4 Practice
5:00 PM — 5:18 PM TA2 Qualifying
5:20 PM — 5:38 PM TA Qualifying
5:40 PM — 5:58 PM TA3/TA4 Qualifying

Saturday March 31
11:10 AM — 12:25 PM TA2 Race powered by AEM
2:55 PM — 4:10 PM TA/TA3/TA4 Race

All times are EDT

Circuit:
2.54 miles, 12 turns

Race Lengths:
40 laps/101.6-miles or 75 minutes, whichever is completed first.

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