Ave Takes Victory at Lime Rock Park
LIME ROCK, Conn. (July 3, 2010) - Prior to Round 3 of the 2010 SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series at Miller Motorsports Park, one of the biggest questions was when would Tony Ave finally win a race?
Three races later, the new question is when will Ave lose a race? On Saturday afternoon at Lime Rock Park, Ave, of Maiden, N.C., turned in another dominating performance in his No. 4 Lamers Racing/McMahon Group/Pro-Motor Chevrolet Corvette. After starting from the pole position, Ave methodically pulled away throughout the 59-lap race and cruised to his third straight victory, this time by 21.455 seconds over Tomy Drissi.
Ave's "hat trick" is the first in Trans-Am Series competition since Klaus Graf scored three straight wins in 2005. More importantly to Ave, the victory again allowed him to extend his lead in the championship standings to 91 points, 635-544, over RJ Lopez with half of the 10-race 2010 season now in the books and the second half ready to kick off in two weeks on the streets of Toronto.
"It's good," Ave said. "I like racing here and it's a really fast place. We knew we would be pretty good in the long runs, because we found something in the car after (Round 2 at) Mosport. It just keeps getting better and better. Toronto is a whole different deal, opposite of this place, so hopefully we can come up there with a setup that's good. But it feels good to have three in a row and extend that points lead. Everything went really well."
After a disappointing run last time out at Road America, Drissi, of Hollywood, Calif., was pleased to return to the podium in the No. 5 Knight and Day Jaguar XKR. It was Drissi's third podium result of the season, and it allowed him to close his gap in the point standings to 11 points behind Lopez, who remains second in the standings.
"Ave did it again," said Drissi. "He built a good car and set it up. I don't know what it is. It's usually the opposite way around. The first two laps, I thought maybe I could get him and just hold him up for a little while and then go and have him pace me, but he just backed out of it a little bit. He was trying too hard at first. That's what was slowing him up. He got smart. Even Ave gets smart sometimes.
"We just had to chase him, and then I was pushing so hard that I didn't keep my cool, I didn't take care of my tires and he could because he could pace me. Five laps into the race, it was already starting to go loose. It was a handful today. We've got five more races to go and this thing's got to turn around now. Momentum is very dangerous, going either way. We stopped the momentum going down for us, now we're on an up, and Ave, boy, that's three races in a row. We've got to stop that momentum in its tracks at the next race."
Completing the podium with a third-place run was Simon Gregg, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette. Gregg had an early off-course excursion in the race, which briefly brought him onto pit lane, but the veteran racer quickly returned to the action. He was rewarded late in the race when Lopez slid off course into the tire barrier between Turns 2 and 3. The result matched a Trans-Am career best for Gregg, who also finished third at Mid-Ohio last year.
"I'm happy to finish third," Gregg said. "I had one off and had to come in the pits to clean the grill, because the motor was overheating. I was surprised when RJ went off in front of me. He kind of handed that position to me. It's great to be at Lime Rock with a good finish."
Lopez, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, wound up fourth in the No. 6 Disco 106/ECR Engines/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette after completing 51 of the race's 59 laps. The result snapped his streak of consecutive Trans-Am podium results at four races.
Glen Jung, of Osteen, Fla., was fifth in the No. 77 MAZDASPEED/Goodyear Mazda RX-7 in his 2010 Trans-Am Series debut. Jung completed 31 laps before retiring with a mechanical problem.