HOMESTEAD, Fla. [October 9, 2016] – Shane Lewis and Cliff Ebben were victorious in their respective races at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as the Trans Am Series held Round 9 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship, part of the Series' 50th Anniversary Season. Joining Lewis and Ebben, the victors of the TA2 and TA classes, were Miami resident Michael Camus and Fort Lauderdale's Ernie Francis, Jr., who secured wins of their own in the TA3 and TA4 classes, respectively.
Trans Am opened the day with the TA2, presented by AEM, class’s independent 102.15-mile, 45-lap race around the 2.273-mile "roval" course. Shane Lewis, driver of the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila, 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro out of Jupiter, Florida, began the race in pole position and, despite several challenges from points leader Tony Buffomante, was able to maintain and hold the position en route to his first career TA2 victory coming in his 21st start and on a track he considers home.
"This first win has been elusive," said Lewis. "We did really well last year but never quite got to the top step. This year I've had a phenomenal car but just have been fighting those gremlins. Today everything just came together. This is one of my home racetracks, as a South Floridian, Homestead-Miami Speedway is really very special—it doesn't hurt that I do have quite a few laps around this place. I knew there were some areas where I could try and conserve a tire, where to run high, where to run low—local knowledge does help a lot; but in the end you just have to work these cars as hard as you can to get a victory."
Lewis' story book race was almost spoiled on the 29th lap when Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang, overtook him on the final third of the front straight. However, Lewis was quick to return the favor accelerating in turn one and retaking the lead— a move later deemed the CoolShirt Systems “Cool Move of the Race.” However, Lewis saw the pass a little differently.
"I'm not sure how much of a cool move it was and how much of it was just me holding on trying to slow the car down!" said Lewis. "But Tony—what a class act. He raced me as clean as you could ever imagine. He got a good run on me coming through lapped traffic and there were a couple places in the infield where he could have easily done a bump-and-run or just pushed me to the side, but he didn't— he raced me clean. I have a huge amount of respect for him, and I'll run the same way next to him—clean—any day."
Buffomante, who finished second easily, and Buffomante's Mike Cope Racing teammate Lawrence Loshak, in the No. 5 Pennzoil Platinum/ MOMO/ ETE Reman Chevrolet Camaro, joined Lewis on the podium. While Buffomante, who started fourth, was quick to work his way into second and pursue Lewis, Loshak raced in the thick of the TA2 pack for much of the race— qualifying second, falling as far back as fifth and then battling back to third before the race's conclusion.
The TA2 class' top five also featured Jordan Bernloehr, in the No. 12 Speedlogix Racing Dodge Challenger, who captured a career best fourth place finish and Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang.
Lewis' win pushes him up into fifth in the TA2 class Championship points with 185 to his name; Tony Buffomante leaves Homestead-Miami atop the standings with 221 points. Justin Haley, despite finishing 11th, holds second position with 200, while defending champion Gar Robinson holds third with 196. However, Lawrence Loshak is closing in, now with 195 points in fourth.
The TA2 race was followed by the TA, TA3 and TA4 multiclass race, with Miami's RJ Lopez, in the No. 06 Republica Brewing/ Optica Lopez Chevrolet Camaro, on pole and leading much of the race. However, a cut tire on the 32nd lap of the race forced the No. 06 to pit, leaving Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon Group/ Lamers Ford Mustang, to assume the lead, one he'd hold until the field went under yellow with two laps to go with a car stuck on course. Ebben would pass the checkered flag capturing his second win of the year.
"It ended up being a good day for the championship," said Ebben. "You never want to see a race end under yellow, but there wasn't much I could do about it. The car ran great; I didn't have any problems at all. I just did my best to avoid traffic, avoid contact and run hard. We're going to keep working hard; I've never been to NOLA and haven't run well at COTA or Daytona in the past—so I don't know what it will take, it's hard to say—but I'm excited!"
Ebben was joined on the podium by AJ Henriksen, in the No. 44 ECC/Anchor Bolt & Screw Chevrolet Corvette, who finished second, a career best, and Charles Wicht, in the No. 75 Rolex Dealers/ Crystal Clear Pools Chevrolet Corvette, who captured third. The TA class top five was completed by Paul Fix, in the No. 50 StopFlex/TheCarCoach/ Chevron Techron Chevrolet Corvette, and Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
The TA class championship leaves Homestead-Miami tighter than at any point this year with Amy Ruman and Cliff Ebben tied atop the points with 211 each, while Paul Fix slides back to third despite being only seven points behind. David Pintaric holds fourth with 190 points, while Simon Gregg completes the top five with 185.
In TA3, Miami Lakes' Michael Camus, in the No. 08 BizBloom.com/MCM Holdings BMW M3, captured his first victory of the year holding off multiple challenges from Randy Kinsland, in the No. 11 Crossroads Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, to bring home the win for the Miami-based Epic Motorsports team.
"It's been a long three months for us," said Camus. "Breaking down at the last three races— I haven't had the opportunity to compete. But today I had a great battle out there with Randy (Kinsland); he's a great driver and it's really fun to race against him. There were some times he was able to get by me, but I knew he was running off his tires—you could see him sliding. So I was able to get a couple good exits out of turn three and was able to hold a gap for the rest of the race. A big thanks to Randy (Mueller) and the Epic team; I don't know if anyone prepares BMWs better than he does in the states."
Kinsland would finish second for his fourth podium of the year; while Randy Mueller, in the No. 0 Epic Motorsports/ Bizbloom.com BMW M3, finished third, recovering after having to pit to replace a tire on the 1st lap while in the lead. Mueller remains firmly atop the TA3 Championship points.
In TA4, Ernie Francis, Jr., secured his 9th win of the year in the pursuit of a perfect season, already having captured the 2016 TA4 Championship—the win, somehow Francis’ first at his home track, capped off a weekend full of new developments for Francis and the Breathless Team.
"It was a great day for us but also a great weekend," said Francis. "We finally brought home a win on our home track. We had Team Shelby out here sponsoring the car this weekend; we wrapped the whole car in Carroll Shelby colors for the event. We had a special announcement: Marc Buoniconti will be my manger going forward and has already secued an Indy Lights test for us with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports next week so we're excited about that and officially announcing we’re moving up to the TA class next year."
Francis, who comfortably led the entirety of the race, was joined on the TA4 podium by Thomas Ellis, in the No. 00 Palm Express Ford Mustang, who finished second and Dave Ricci, in the No. 71 Southeast Guardrail Chevrolet Camaro, who finished third.
The Trans Am Series will now head to NOLA Motorsports Park for Round 10 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship, held next weekend Saturday, October 15th.
Provisional TA2 Race Results
Provisional TA, TA3, TA4 Race Results
Entry List in Full
Daytona International Speedway Daytona Beach, FL