The cream rose to the top in Trans Am presented by Pirelli qualifying for the Ryan Companies Road America Classic on Friday, with the top two contenders for the TA championship locking down the front row for Saturday’s Ryan Companies 100.
Chris Dyson earned his second pole of the season in the No. 20 Plaid Ford Mustang, touring the 4.024-mile circuit in 2m04.550s. He enters Round 7 of the 2019 campaign with a five-point lead in the TA standings over second-fastest qualifier Ernie Francis Jr., who ran a quick time of 2m04.790s in the No. 98 Frameless Shower Doors Ford Mustang.
“The car has been smoking fast ever since we got here,” Dyson said. “We’ve just been tweaking on it, and I feel we’ve got a great car for the race tomorrow. Ernie and I have had a tremendous battle all year. He’s helped me raise my game, and I think I’ve done the same for him.”
Francis and Dyson swapped the top spot several times before the New York driver locked down the top position. The two drivers have each won two of the last four races.
“Our car has been quick for the last string of events,” Francis said. “I think tomorrow’s race will be great. Dyson and I are always pretty close. This track is more of a power track, and that suits his car a little better than ours; but I think we can make it up during the race tomorrow.”
Popular veteran Boris Said qualified third in a substitute role, running 2m05.353s in the No. 3 GoShare.Elavon/Axalta Chevrolet Camaro. The Burtin Racing Camaro’s regular driver Tomy Drissi is recovering from a calf injury, but is expected to return for the next event at Watkins Glen on Sept. 7.
Rafa Matos captured his third pole of the season in qualifying for the Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge featuring the TA2 powered by AEM class.
Matos turned a fast lap of 2m12.459s in the No. 88 3Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro to beat out Marc Miller and Misha Goikhberg, who each have two pole positions in 2019 TA2 qualifying.
“It’s definitely a good feeling to get our second pole position in a row,” Matos said. “We’re looking forward to keeping the first spot here. I was close last year, but we didn’t get it done. I feel I have a much stronger car this year.
“The pole is very important here,” Matos continued. “Road America is a very fast, horsepower track. Our goal was to win the pole position, and then stay up there tomorrow.”
Miller’s best lap was 2m13.410s in the No. 40 Prefix/Stevens-Miller Racing Dodge Challenger, while Goikhberg ran a fast lap of 2m13.717s in the No. 10 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro. Miller is riding a streak of two consecutive victories and holds the TA2 points lead.
“We’ve been creeping up to it and had a good qualifying effort,” Miller said. “Overall, I’m happy to have another front-row starting position. Rafa is hooked up. He has speed on the straights and he’s a little bit better in the corners, and that makes a big difference at this type of track. I’m happy to be the best of everyone else.”
Justin Haley, who stunned the racing world with an upset victory in July at Daytona in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, qualified fifth in the No. 99 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang. He will see double duty this weekend, also running in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series feature.
Tim Kezman captured the SGT pole driving the No. 64 Fall-Line Motorsports Audi R8 LMS for the first time, turning a lap of 2m13.027s. The Franksville, Wisconsin, driver captured the class pole at Indianapolis driving a Porsche.
“I’d never driven the car before,” Kezman said. “This weekend is my first time in it, and it’s a neat machine. I’m happy with the pole. Hopefully, we can check out and go clean all the way. The pole is one thing, but we’ve got to win the race. I thought we’d try the Audi when we saw the other Audi performing well. But, without Fall-Line working on it, there’s no way we could make it go.”
Ken Thwaits qualified second in the No. 5 Wilwood Brakes/Franklin RD Apparel Audi R8 LS, followed by Jason Daskolos in the No. 27 Vintage 423 Dodge Viper. Class contender Cindi Lux was prevented from participating in qualifying after experiencing engine problems in practice with the No. 45 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper.
Jeff Courtney, the lone entrant in the GT class, turned a lap of 2m19.389s in the No. 99 Matrix/RecStuff.com/Kendra Maserati GT4.
Saturday’s schedule opens with the Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge featuring the TA2 powered by AEM at 8 a.m. CT. The Ryan Companies 100 TA/SGT/GT race takes the green flag at 11:40 a.m. CT. Follow live timing and scoring on GoTransAm.com or on the Race Monitor app.