The thunder roaring from the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli cars filled the air at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday afternoon as the the Trans Am, SuperGT and GT classes took to the track to set the grid for this weekend’s mixed-class feature race.
Starting the day with morning practice, a split 35-minute qualifying session ended the day at IMS. The track was considerably hotter in the afternoon, and, with a wide range of machinery on track all part of the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational, several layers of rubber lined the 2.43-mile circuit making for challenging conditions.
TA class driver Ernie Francis Jr. was quickest all day and after just a handful of laps, the multi-class champion notched a lap of 1m25.367s in his baby blue and white No. 98 Frameless Shower Doors Ford Mustang to take pole position.
“Qualifying went really well for us,” said Francis Jr. “We had the pace we were expecting out there. We are usually pretty fast here — IMS is a track that I really like driving around. We threw a new set of stickers on for this session, and knocked down a fast lap.
“I’m really proud of the guys here at Breathless Racing. They worked really hard to get the Frameless Shower Doors Ford Mustang out there on pole for tomorrow’s race.”
Following a pre-practice inspection by his team, Lime Rock winner Chris Dyson missed out on the first session, and his day only got more interesting from there: Stewards allowed the No. 20 Plaid Ford Mustang to turn hardship laps, but Dyson experienced more hardships during what should’ve been a comfortable shakedown as a transmission issue kept him from doing a full lap.
But his CD Racing squad rallied, and just a few short hours later, Dyson qualified second in TA with a lap of 1m26.137s. Just seven-tenths of a second off pole, Dyson’s Mustang showed no ill-effects from the issues that plagued it earlier in the day.
“We had a cautionary engine change after we saw some suspicious material in the oil that we didn’t want to take any chances on,” Dyson explained. “The guys pushed pretty hard to get out there for some hardship laps — and then we had some issues with the transmission, unrelated to the engine.
“We are resilient,” Dyson continued, “and I would put our team next to anyone in the world. They really inspire confidence.”
Adam Andretti (No. 86 Engineered Components Co/Anchor Bolt Chevrolet Corvette) took third fastest lap of the day in TA and will start behind Francis Jr. and Dyson.
Celebrating his 57th birthday driving the No. 57 Kryderacing Cadillac CTSV, David Pintaric will start beside Andretti in Row 2, while Amy Ruman (No. 23 McNichols Co. Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top five with a best time of 1m28.555s.
Seven tenths of a second also separated the top SGT drivers, Tim Kezman in the No. 44 Lemons of Love Porsche 991 GT3 Cup edging out series newcomer Ken Thwaits in the jet black No. 35 Showtime Motorsports Audi R8.
In GT, Steven Davison in the No. 22 Aston Martin Vantage reeled off a quick time of 1m35.267s to take pole over Joe Bogetich in the No. 65 Westover Controls Chevrolet Camaro SS.
The TA/SGT/GT 100-mile feature gets underway Saturday at 2:35 p.m. ET following a TA2 powered by AEM practice in the morning. Fans are invited to the Paddock Open House from noon to 1:00 p.m. where drivers and cars will be on-site for photos and autographs.
For more information visit GoTransAm.com or follow the weekend activities through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @gotransam.