Trans Am ready for Homestead-Miami challenge

April 9, 2017
Trans Am ready for Homestead-Miami challenge

Homestead, Fla. [April 6, 2017] – The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will return to the Florida sun once more this weekend as it takes to the challenging 2.27-mile modified road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Round 2 of the 2017 Trans Am Championship. With it Trans Am brings a 48-car field, ready to take on two separate races in this, the Series' sixth appearance on the South Florida circuit. The Trans Am entry also includes a haul of Florida natives, ready to defend one of their home tracks on the 2017 circuit.

Amongst them stands Ernie Francis, Jr., of Davie, Florida, driver of the No. 98 Breathless Pro Racing/ Beta Tools Ford Mustang, making only his second appearance in the TA class after a dominate spell in the TA4 class that lasted three seasons. During the 2017 opener at Sebring International Raceway, Francis' career in the TA class seemed off to a flying start, qualifying on pole and leading multiple laps of the ensuing race, only to see his weekend cut short of the finish line—the work of a faulty oil filter O-ring. Now, Francis will attempt to repeat his stellar Sebring performance and perhaps, under better circumstances, secure his first win in TA on his home track.  

Perhaps no one benefited more from Francis' poor luck at Sebring than Cliff Ebben, driver of the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon Group Ford Mustang, who eventually emerged victorious in the TA class at Sebring and enters the Homestead weekend with the points lead. Ebben also capitalized on another driver’s poor luck at Homestead-Miami last year when race leader RJ Lopez suffered a cut tire on lap 32 of 45; Ebben would assume the lead and carry first position past the checkered flag.  

Despite his streak of poor luck, RJ Lopez, in the No. 06 Optica Lopez/ Republica Brewing Chevrolet Corvette, remains the man to beat come Sunday. Lopez has looked dominant over Trans Am's past three appearances at Homestead-Miami, securing pole in each and building up a commanding lead over the course of each respective race.  However, only 2014's performance has resulted in a win for Lopez, with both 2015 and 2016 resulting in cut tires. Now Lopez returns once more, no doubt hoping for better results with new Pirelli rubber underneath the No. 06, with his luck perhaps changing as well.  

Two-time defending champ Amy Ruman, driver of the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, also has a history of success at Homestead-Miami. Her win in 2015 was vital in helping secure her historic first championship. Ruman has strongly qualified at Homestead-Miami as well—within the top three the past two years and never outside the top five in her career.

Fresh off a victory at Willow Springs in Trans Am's West Coast Championship is Tomy Drissi, in the No. 08 Ghost in The Shell Chevrolet Corvette, continuing his first full season of Trans Am competition since his championship winning year in 2009. Drissi opened up his Series return in fine form at Sebring with a second place finish and followed it up with a dominant performance throughout the Willow Springs event, leading every session.  

Also in attendance in the TA class will be Henry Gilbert, Mary "Mickey" Wright, Jeff Hinkle, Steve Burns, Daniel Urrutia, Jr., Kerry Hitt, Stanton Barrett, Vinnie Allegretta, Simon Gregg and Lawrence Lepurage.