ALTON, Va. (April 19, 2009) – Tony Ave turned a fast lap of 1:46.996 (110.022 mph) en route to shattering the Muscle Milk ® SCCA® Trans-Am® track qualifying record at VIRginia International Raceway. As a result, he will start on pole for this afternoon’s Round Two Race. Jim Goughary, of Jupiter, Fla., will start on the outside of row one.
Ave was awarded the pole after provisional polewinner Klaus Graf, of Germany, had his times disallowed after failing post qualifying technical inspection (wing height). Graf had turned the provisional fast time of 1:46.067 (110.986 mph). The former Trans-Am Series Champion will start from the back of the field.
Driving the No. 10 McMahon Group/Stumpf Ford Ford Mustang, Ave only used three qualifying laps to earn his second-career Trans-Am pole, staying perfect in qualifying this year. His fast time was more than 2.3 seconds faster that the track record set by Stu Hayner (1:49.329, 107.675 mph) in 2002. In fact, the top six drivers posted qualifying times under the former track qualifying record.
“I don’t like to see that kind of stuff happen,” Ave said about being awarded the pole. “But, they’ve got to enforce the rules because if you let a guy have his wing a little too high, then the next guy will have it a little too high. I feel bad [for them]. They should be on the pole. They’ve been fast all weekend and that eighth of an inch isn’t going to make a difference for them. So, I feel bad for Mike [Halloran] and those guys. But, they’ll still have a shot to win.”
In 33 career Trans-Am starts, Ave is still looking for his first career win. His career-best finish is second at Lime Rock Park and at VIR.
Goughary qualified second in his No. 72 Luna Sueno Tequila Chevrolet Corvette thanks to a quick time of 1:47.386 (109.623 mph). The Trans-Am rookie and former SCCA National Champion is looking for his first career win in his first career Trans-Am start.
“Qualifying went pretty well,” Goughary said. “We made some changes last night. We went with a different tire package than we thought we were going to run. The balance [on the car] was better [during qualifying], so I was able to go a little bit quicker relative to the rest of the field. That was the fastest lap we’ve turned since we’ve been here.”
Rookie RJ Lopez, of Bal Harbour, Fla., will start third in his No. 06 WabashPower.com/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Corvette. He turned a quick lap of 1:48.015 (108.985 mph).
Rookie Michael Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., was fourth fastest in his No. 70 Atlantic Autosport with a 1:48.192 (108.807 mph). Former Trans-Am race winner Jorge Diaz, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, will roll off the grid fifth in his No. 2 JD Racing Jaguar XKR. He turned a lap of 1:48.883 (108.116 mph).
Round Two of the Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series gets underway at 3:15 p.m. later today. For more, visit www.sccatrans-am.com.