LEXINGTON, Ohio (May 29, 2009) -- After a six-year absence, the thunderous roar of the Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series returns to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend for Round Four of the revitalized 2009 Championship, part of the Ohio Valley Region SCCA National Race of Champions Weekend.
For the 24th time in its 42-year history, Trans-Am cars will attack the challenging 2.258-mile circuit that has seen some of the all-time greats battle for series supremacy throughout the years. Names like Jerry Titus, Mark Donohue, George Follmer, Parnelli Jones, Scott Pruett, Hans Stuck, Tom Kendall, Greg Pickett and Paul Gentilozzi have all stood atop the podium at Mid-Ohio. One thing is for sure, a new name will be added to the Mid-Ohio racewinner list this weekend.
Californian Tomy Drissi (No. 5 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Jaguar XKR) is overdue for a win. Sitting atop the Drivers’ Championship standings after three races, Drissi’s lone Trans-Am win came at Long Beach in 2000 and he’s tried 66 times since then to score a second. Consistent finishes, including a second two weeks ago at Mosport, have him poised to win at Mid-Ohio, a circuit at which that his Rocketsports Racing team has won a record five times, including three of the last four races.
Drissi is tied atop the standings with Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., who has yet to stand atop a Trans-Am podium despite winning poles at Road Atlanta and VIR this year in his No. 10 McMahon Group/Stumpf Ford Mustang. Ave has been bit by bad luck, with a brake failure in Atlanta and a flat tire at Mosport taking him out of the running. If he can keep luck on his side this weekend, Ave has a great record at Mid-Ohio, winning three-straight Pro Sports 2000 races in the early ‘90s.
Jorge Diaz Jr. raced neck-and-neck with Drissi at Mosport. The two-time Trans-Am winner started his No. 2 JD Racing Jaguar XKR on the pole but dropped to third by the finish. He entered the 2009 Championship hunt late, but is expected to make a charge and will be a contender at Mid-Ohio. Diaz Jr.’s two wins are a series high entering the weekend.
Two top rookies return to the 2009 tour after skipping Mosport—Amy Ruman and RJ Lopez.
Ruman, of Kent, Ohio, was third in points before Mosport, but skipped that Round due to National racing plans at Summit Point. She’s back on her home turf and will pilot the No. 23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Corp Chevrolet Corvette, looking for her second podium finish of the year in front of a host of friends and family.
Lopez looked to be en route to victory at Road Atlanta before his engine exploded with five to go. Another solid qualifying effort at VIR was spoiled by further mechanical difficulties in the No. 06 WabashPower.com/Goodyear/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Corvette. While he doesn’t have the finishes to go with the speed he’s shown, expect this young driver to race for the win at Mid-Ohio.
The undoubted underdog of the Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series is Glen Jung. His rotary-powered No. 77 MAZDASPEED/Goodyear Tires Mazda RX-7 gives up nearly 300 horsepower to the big V8s in the series, but the car is light and nimble and Jung has had considerable success at Mid-Ohio. His consistent finishes have him fourth in the Championship.
Other drivers to watch this weekend include John Schaller (Chevrolet Camaro), who was fourth at Road Atlanta, Edison Lluch Sr. (Chevrolet Corvette), who has a pair of top fives in his two races, veterans Simon Gregg (Chevrolet Corvette) and Jerry Kinn (Chevrolet Corvette).
Two drivers making their debut appearances this weekend include Pete Mohrhauser (Chevrolet Corvette) and local driver Ryan McManus (Ford Mustang), of Westfield Center, Ohio.
Missing from Mid-Ohio is the car that won the previous three races this year—the No. 6 Muscle Milk Jaguar XKR from Pickett Racing. After winning Road Atlanta with team owner Greg Pickett and the two most recent Rounds with Klaus Graf, the team is skipping Mid-Ohio to focus on a new project.
Sunday’s 40-lap, 90.32-mile Round Four Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series race will take the green flag at 2:45 p.m. (EDT). Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 3:45 p.m. For more series information, please visit www.sccatrans-am.com.