Gar Robinson and Paul Fix celebrated the Fourth of July weekend in style with Trans Am victories at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR). Steve Streimer and Ernie Francis Jr., were also victorious with wins in TA3 and TA4 classes.
BIR’s 30th Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go last weekend featured two 100-mile Trans Am races, which were the event finale on Sunday. The Show & Go also showcased the second leg of the three-race Muscle Car Series on the drag strip and the National Auto Sport Association, which was also no the road course Saturday and Sunday. A classic car show, fireworks and live music rounded out the weekend.
For Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, the Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge for the TA2 class saw him start fourth and make his way up to the front of the field over the first 15 laps, while fending off challenges from Justin Haley, Lawrence Loshak and Duluth’s Tommy Archer. The second half of the race saw the top eight cars nose-to-tail for the vast majority of the time. Robinson would hold the lead until the 35th lap when the course went under yellow for a multi-car incident.
“I’ve had some better races but this is up there,” said Robinson. “While you would always like to finish under green, I’m not sure how much the car would have had left—a lot of this came down to tire management, the front were going away on us so I ended up having to boil the rears off. Still, there was some great racing today, and I’m happy to have a clean race with Lawrence (Loshak) today. We didn’t have an inch between the two of us; I saw our mirrors cover up each other. Also, huge congratulations to Tommy (Archer) on his second place finish. We’re rooting for him in his cancer battle, and we’re really happy he’s back racing with us.”
For Robinson, the defending TA2 champion, the victory is his second of the year and pushes him into first position in the championship points standings as the season approaches the halfway mark. Robinson was joined on the podium by Archer, driver of the No. 54 ECC/KolarChev.com Chevrolet Camaro, and Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, who finished second and third, respectively. In last year’s race, Machavern took first, with Archer second and Robinson third.
The TA2 top five was completed by Lawrence Loshak, in the No. 5 Pennzoil Platinum/ MOMO/ ETE Reman Chevrolet Camaro, and Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively. The top 10 also featured Shane Lewis, Adam Andretti, Keith Prociuk, Cole Carlson and John Atwell, in that finishing order.
Fix, behind the wheel of the No. 50 StopFlex.com/TheCarCoach.com/Chevron Techron Chevrolet Corvette, started the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic’s multi-class race in sixth position and quickly surged through the field claiming second position after only two laps of green racing— settling into a race-long pursuit of pole sitter Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/McMahon Group Ford Mustang, that lasted until the final lap. With barely a minute remaining in the race, the No. 36 of Ebben, who then had a second gap on Fix, began to smoke and slow, leaving Fix to make the pivotal pass in Turn 4 on the final lap en route to the checkered flag.
“Cliff had a fast car, and he knows this track,” said Fix. “Brainerd can punish you, the idea is not to make any mistakes — you have to stay in the line. If you go off line, it’s dirty and it will cause you to lose traction and either over steer or under steer. You have to stay consistent and make absolutely no mistakes. I just had to wait and find the gap and find the time to capitalize — whatever that was, whether it was traffic or a mistake or mechanical. I waited, waited and waited, just biding my time and made the pass when it counted on the last lap.”
The victory stands as Fix’s second in as many races, helping bolster his championship pursuits as he moves within eight points of second position and 35 of first with Round 6 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the horizon.
“Things are starting to look really good for us,” said Fix. “I can’t wait for Mid-Ohio; it is absolutely one of my favorite tracks and it’s close to home. Hopefully, we can pull off the repeat!”
Fix was joined on the podium by Ebben, who was able to maintain second position until the checkered flag, and David Pintaric, in the No. 57 Kryderacing Chevrolet Corvette, who finished second and third, respectively. The podiums marked the second of the year for both, with Ebben now holding second in the points with 110 and Pintaric in third with 107.
The TA class top five was completed by Jim McAleese, in the No. 03 McAleese & Associates Chevrolet Corvette, and Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, finishing fourth and fifth. The top 10 saw Kerry Hitt, Claudio Burtin, Tim Rubright, Amy Ruman and Mickey Wright, all feature in that finishing order.
Ruman maintains the championship points lead with 137 to her name despite a ninth place finish, the result of a pit stop after having lost power steering due to an impact from another car on the first lap.
TA3 was highlighted by a race-long battle between eventual victor Steve Streimer, in the No. 42 Lux Performance Dodge Viper ACRX, and Keith Anderson, in the No. 81 Archer Racing Dodge Viper ACRX, that saw the two swap the lead on five separate occasions. Ultimately, the race came down to the very end with Anderson unable to complete a last gasp pass on the outside, allowing Streimer to power ahead and pass the checkered flag.
“Today was an absolutely great race,” said Streimer. “I had never met Keith before this weekend, and he just can really drive this track. We had a great battle, back and forth the whole time. We kept our distance and gave each other respect in the turns, and all the passes were clean. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
Anderson secured second place while Streimer’s teammate Cindi Lux, in the No. 45 Lux Performance Dodge Viper ACRX, captured third to complete the podium.
In TA3, Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 Beta Tools/Liquid Performance, was left with an easy task after Trevor Janke, in the No. 31 Janke Auto Chevrolet Camaro, collided with the wall outside Turn 1 on the first lap of the race causing a full-course caution and ensuing red flag. After managing the car throughout the middle of the race, Francis, a two-time defending class champion, coasted past the checkered flag securing yet another win in what is looking more and more like another championship season.
“Honestly, this weekend for us was fairly relaxing; we were really just here for the championship points,” Francis said. “None of the other championship contenders showed up; it just so happened that the other car we were competing against wrecked out after the first couple of laps so we ended up inheriting the race win and decided to just bring the car in and save it for the next races. I was fortunate enough to test a TA car this weekend and that might be something we’re thinking about for 2017, and I may try to hop in a car in the next couple of races and see how we do.”
The Burtin Racing team was awarded the PitBoxes.com Crew of the Race for their efforts in getting the No. 7 GoShare Chevrolet Corvette repaired after a practice incident—eventually finishing seventh.
Robinson was awarded the Cool Shirt Systems Cool Move of the Race for retaking after a battle with Justin Haley midway through the TA2 race.
The two races will be televised on CBS Sports Network later this month. The Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic, featuring TA/TA3/TA4 will be broadcast at 11 a.m. July 23. The Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge, featuring TA2, will be broadcast at noon July 31.