DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. [November 10, 2016] – One race remains in the 2016 Trans Am Championship, the 50th Anniversary Season Finale at Daytona International Speedway. This weekend's races on Saturday, November 12 will determine the coveted 50th Anniversary TA and TA2 class championships—adding two new names to the lengthy list of drivers who have also claimed the title. Alongside the championship battles, Trans Am will hold a year-end celebration with 59 entries featuring and two 103.24-mile, 29-lap races on the iconic 3.56-mile, 20-turn road course, a TA, TA3, TA4 multi-class race and a TA2 exclusive race.
Both the TA and TA2 classes have seen their fields of championship hopefuls narrowed down to just two drivers after the previous 11 rounds. In the TA class, only defending TA Champion Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, and current points leader Paul Fix, in the No. 50 StopFlex/ TheCarCoach.com/ Chevron Techron Chevrolet Corvette, remain. In TA2 the defending champ also remains in the hunt, with Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, doing everything in his power to defend his title against current TA2 points leader Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Mike Cope Ford Mustang.
In 2015 all Amy Ruman needed to do was take the green flag to secure her title over Paul Fix; however, this year will ask far more of the now defending champion. Fix enters the weekend with an eight-point lead, leaving Ruman with work to do in both qualifying and the race itself. Last year's Daytona qualifying saw Fix take pole and Ruman qualifying alongside; however, the race saw a very different outcome with Ruman emerging victorious and Fix finishing seventh despite setting a new track record lap. For both drivers the margin for error is near non-existent in what is now the closest TA championship battle since 2005.
Over the course of the 2016 Trans Am Championship, Fix has accumulated three poles and five wins, three coming in the last four rounds, and six podium appearances. Ruman has secured one pole and two wins and five podium finishes.
In TA2, Tony Buffomante enters the season finale with the benefit of a 25-point lead over Gar Robinson. Buffomante has accumulated five wins, seven podiums and four poles this season, the most of any driver in all three categories, with some victories coming from behind and other flag-to-flag. That level of flexibility, success, and the points gap that comes alongside, has given Buffomante a well-earned degree of comfort entering the finale— especially given that last year at Daytona Buffomante began the race on pole and finished second. In all, it creates a monumental challenge for Robinson in his title defense.
Still, last race, or even last lap, drama is not anything new for Robinson, who clinched the 2015 TA2 title on the very last lap of the season, finishing first after working his way up from a fifth place qualifying effort. If Robinson can pull off a similar result for the Robinson Racing team this year, he will solidify himself in the Trans Am history books.
Throughout the 2016 season, TA2 has proven to be anything but predictable, also well exemplified by Robinson's title grab in 2015; and with 25 TA2 machines entered for the season finale, Daytona is primed to be a fitting end to another breakneck year of TA2 racing.
Joining Fix and Ruman in the TA class will be a host of 15 other competitors, including those fighting for a spot on the year-end podium and those aiming for one final grasp at 2016 Trans Am glory. Participating and currently running in the TA championship top five will be David Pintaric, in the No. 57 Kryderacing Cadillac CTS-V, and Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, along with rookie of the year leader Vincent Allegretta, fresh off another second place finish last Round at COTA.
The TA2 class will also feature a host of competitors including the returning teammates Adam Andretti, in the No. 44 ECC/ Anchor Bolt & Screw Chevrolet Camaro, and Tommy Archer, in the No. 54 ECC/KOOLMAT Chevrolet Camaro. Making his return to Trans Am after a multiple race absence will be Louis-Philippe Montour, in the No. 03 Montour LTD Ford Mustang; while Tony Ave, in the No. 04 Roehrig Engineering Chevrolet Camaro, will also join the Daytona fray. TA2 stalwarts Lawrence Loshak, Dillon Machavern, Shane Lewis, Jordan Bernloehr and Justin Haley will likely play a factor in the race results; while Scott Lagasse, Jr., will make his TA2 debut behind the wheel of the No. 7 Scott Lagasse Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
While the champions for Trans Am's TA3 and TA4 classes are already set, with Randy Mueller and Ernie Francis, Jr. taking home year-end honors, Trans Am is set for one of its largest production fields of the year with 18 cars slated to participate across the two classes. Both Francis, in the No. 98 Beta Tools/ Liquid Performance Chevrolet Corvette, and Randy Mueller, in the No. 0 Epic Motorsports/Bizbloom.com BMW M3, will participate in the TA3 class, once more setting up an interesting battle between current champions—this time in their home state of Florida.
Also entering the production fray on the TA3 side will be COTA race winner Tim Kezman, in the No. 4 Fall-Line/ Calypso/ Beverage Flavor Porsche 997, 2015 champ Lee Saunders, in the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper ACR-X, and front-runners Randy Kinsland, in the No. 11 Crossroads Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, and Conor Flynn, in the No. 95 Irish Mike's Automotive Porsche 997. Also amongst the 11-car TA3 field will be debutant Aristotle Balogh in the No. 5 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW E92.
In TA4, COTA race winner Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 TREMEC/SKF/Backstreet Performance Chevrolet Camaro, returns with a 7-car field with which to contend. Featuring alongside Napieralski will be fellow returnee Brian Kleeman, in the No. 07 DWW Motorsports Ford Mustang, and NOLA victor Dave Ricci, in the No. 71 SouthEast Guardrail Chevrolet Camaro—all ready to enter the multi-class TA, TA3 and TA4 fray on the turns and banks of Daytona.
Joining Trans Am on the weekend is Historic Sportscar Racing, holding their "Daytona Historics" featuring a multitude of makes and models throughout the history of motorsports.
Tickets for the event can be purchased online at http://www.hsrtickets.com.
After the Daytona race, Trans Am will hold a year ending celebration of the Series' 50th Anniversary on the evening of Saturday, November 12th, as the 2016 Trans Am Champions are honored and the Series closes out another monumental year of America's Road Racing Series.
Friday, November 11, 2016
9:30 AM – 10:00 AM TA2 Practice
10:00 AM – 10:30 AM TA, TA3, TA4 Practice
3:30 PM – 3:50 PM TA2 "One Shot" Qualifying
3:50 PM – 4:10 PM TA "One Shot" Qualifying
4:10 PM – 4:30 PM TA3, TA4 "One Shot" Qualifying
Saturday, November 12, 2016
8:30 AM – 9:45 AM TA2, Powered by AEM, Race
1:20 PM – 2:35 PM TA, TA3 and TA4 Race