ALTON, Va. (April 17, 2009) -- Less than one month after its successful re-launch, the Muscle Milk® SCCA® Trans-Am® Series heads to scenic VIRginia International Raceway this weekend for Round Two of its eight-race 2009 slate as the Sunday feature race of the North Carolina Region SCCA Oak Tree Trans-Am National.
After winning the opening round at Road Atlanta March 22, Greg Pickett is forced to step aside for the weekend due to previous commitments, but Pickett Racing will be on hand, with 2005 Trans-Am Series Champion Klaus Graf climbing behind the wheel of the No. 6 Muscle Milk Jaguar XKR. The German scored four wins and five poles driving for Rocketsports Racing in 2005 en route to becoming the first European-born series Champion.
While Graf enters the race with a three-race Trans-Am winning streak (the final three races of 2005), he’ll have stiff competition based on the Road Atlanta Round One race.
Tony Ave, who started his No. 10 McMahon Group/Stumpf Ford Ford Mustang from the pole at Road Atlanta, recorded his career-best finish with a runner-up run to Boris Said at VIR in 2002. Ave led the most laps on that day, something he also did at the 2009 season opener before a brake problem caused him to fade in the race, eventually ending his day with a brush of the Turn One wall.
Another former racewinner makes his Trans-Am return at VIR as well, with Puerto Rico’s Jorge Diaz Jr. returning in the No. 69 JD Racing Jaguar XKR. Diaz won the final race of 2006 at Heartland Park Topeka and is expected to be a frontrunner in the series for the rest of the season.
A host of rookies made their respective marks at Road Atlanta, led by second-place finishing Mike Skeen. Driving the No. 70 Atlantic Autosport Chevrolet Corvette, the 22-year old raced from the back of the pack to finish second, collecting the Flowmaster Star of the Race Award, the Sunoco Hard Charger and a new race lap record in the process.
Two other young Corvette drivers made their mark on the series at Road Atlanta as well. R.J. Lopez picked up the lead of the race when Ave’s problems struck and he looked on his way to scoring a debut Trans-Am Series win in his No. 06 WabashPower.com/ Mobil1/Goodyear Corvette when his engine exploded with just five laps remaining, bringing out a race-ending caution and handing over the lead to Pickett. Amy Ruman took advantage of Lopez’s bad luck, and scored a third place finish in her No. 23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Corp Corvette—equaling the best finish of her father, Bob Ruman.
Trans-Am veteran and former racewinner Tomy Drissi started second and looked to have a podium finish in hand when his No. 5 X-Men Origins – Wolverine Jaguar XKR stumbled and stopped with a fuel issue at Road Atlanta. Expect him and the Rocketsports team to be ready and fast at VIR. Drissi is also mentoring his young rookie teammate, Daniel Ramoutarsingh in the No. 8 Trinico Steel & Wire Products Jaguar.
While it may be Corvettes, Jaguars and Mustangs at the very front of the grid, John Schaller snuck into the top five at Road Atlanta with his trusty No. 08 JRS Motorsport/Central Power Distributors Chevrolet Camaro. He, veteran Kenny Bupp (No. 3 Murray’s Speed & Custom) and Jon “Chevy” Leavy (No. 18 Murrayauto.com/Troy Ind.) carry the Camaro banner once again in southern Virginia.
Finally, if you’re looking for an underdog, look no further than the No. 77 Mazdaspeed/Goodyear Mazda RX-7 of Glen Jung. While light and nimble, Jung’s rotary-powered RX-7 is giving up more than 300hp to some of the bigger V8s, but still managed a ninth-place finish at Atlanta. On a dry track, he may not be a factor, but if it rains, the front of the field could take on a very unexpected look.
Other Corvettes looking to make a mark at VIR include the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports entry of Simon Gregg, former SCCA National Champion Jim Goughary Jr. (No. 72 Luna Sueno Tequila), Edison Lluch Jr. and Sr. (Don Q/El Tuque and Coors Light/El Tuque), rookie Jordan Bupp (No. 9 Hamilton Safe & Security Systems) and Bob Monette (No. 35 Optech Monette LLC).
Graf paces VIR practice
Klaus Graf turned the quickest lap in this afternoon’s practice at VIR. In fact, his lap time of 1:46.617 (110.414) was nearly three seconds faster than the Trans-Am track record set by Stu Hayner (1:49.329, 107.675) in 2002. Tony Ave turned the second fastest lap with a 1:47.514 (109.493 mph), followed by Jorge Diaz Jr. with a 1:49.587 (107.422 mph).
ALTON, Va. - Results from practice session one for Sunday's Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series Round Two race at Virginia International Raceway, with position, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.
1, (6), Klaus Graf, Germany, Jaguar XKR, 1:46.617, 110.414.
2, (10), Tony Ave, Maiden, N.C., Mustang, 1:47.514, 109.492.
3, (2), Jorge Diaz Jr, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jaguar XKR, 1:49.587, 107.421.
4, (59), Simon Gregg, Ponte Verda Beach, Fla., Corvette, 1:49.661, 107.349.
5, (06), RJ Lopez(R), Bal Harbour, Fla., Corvette, 1:49.722, 107.289.
6, (5), Tomy Drissi, Los Angeles, Calif., Corvette, 1:50.010, 107.008.
7, (08), John Schaller, Fort Myers, Fla., Camaro, 1:50.380, 106.649.
8, (72), Jim Goughary_Jr, Jupiter, Fla., Corvette, 1:50.950, 106.101.
9, (74), Edison Luch Jr(R), Loyas, Puerto Rico, Corvette, 1:53.592, 103.634.
10, (77), Glen Jung(R), Osteen, Fla., Mazda RX-7, 1:56.883, 100.716.
11, (70), Michael Skeen(R), Charlotte, N.C., Corvette, 1:57.884, 99.860.
12, (8), Daniel Ramoutarsingh(R, LaRomain Trinidad, Jaguar XKR, 1:58.301, 99.508.
13, (30), Richard Grant(R), Germantown, Tenn., Corvette, 1:58.374, 99.447.
14, (3), Kenny Bupp, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Camaro, 1:59.153, 98.797.
15, (7), Jerry Kinn, Anchorage, Alaska, Corvette, 2:00.907, 97.364.
16, (71), Kent Keller, Rougemont, N.C., Cutlas, 2:08.244, 91.793.
17, (23), Amy Ruman(R), Kent, Ohio, Corvette, 2:19.304, 84.505.
18, (9), Jordan Bupp(R), Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Corvette, no time.
19, (35), Bob Monette(R), Milton, Ga., Corvette, no time.
20, (36), Bob Thumel(R), Denver, Colo., Jaguar XKR, no time.
21, (66), Denny Lamers(R), Appleton, Wis., Mustang, no time.
22, (73), Edison Luch Sr, Loyas, Puerto Rico, Corvette, no time.