Tony Buffomante and Cliff Ebben secured pole positions in Fast Five Qualifying for Sunday’s two 100-mile Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic Trans Am races, Round 5 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship. Keith Anderson and Ernie Francis, Jr., also had successful qualifying sessions, grabbing poles for the TA3 and TA4 classes at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR).
The two Trans Am Series races are the grand finale of the 30th Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go, July 1-3. The event also includes the National Auto Sport Association on the road course and the second leg of the Muscle Car Series on the drag strip.
Buffomante, in the No. 34 Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang, captured his third pole of the season with a 1:31.192 lap — a new track record for TA2 — around the 2.5-mile Competition Road Course at BIR. Buffomante, who is hot off a victory at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Round 4, is currently tied atop the points standings with defending champion Gar Robinson and leads all TA2 competitors in wins with two so far this season.
The pole puts Buffomante in prime position to capture his third victory, and fourth podium, as his continues his pursuit of a TA2 championship. The pole position will see Buffomante lead the TA2 field to green in their independent TA2 100-mile race Sunday at 1 p.m.
Lawrence Loshak, in the No. 5 Pennzoil Platinum/MOMO/ETE Reman Chevrolet Camaro, qualified second, securing a front row sweep for the Mike Cope team with a 1:31.307 lap. Minnesota native Tommy Archer, in the No. 54 ECC/KolarChev.com Chevrolet Camaro, will start in third position with a 1:31.466 lap, a strong position to challenge for the home track victory he narrowly missed in 2015.
Defending champion Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, will start fourth after turning a 1:31.678 lap; while last year’s BIR victor Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, secured the final Fast Five position with a time of 1:31.750, completing the tight TA2 session.
Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon Group/ Lamers Ford Mustang, will start on pole for the TA, TA3 and TA4 multi-class race that starts at 3:10 p.m. Sunday. Ebben captured the pole with a 1:28.272 lap, securing his third consecutive pole in the TA class. Now, Ebben will attempt to convert his qualifying speed into his first victory of the year.
Starting alongside Ebben will be the ever-present No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette of Amy Ruman, defending TA champion and current points leader. Ruman leads all TA competitors with two victories this year and will look to add to that tally with a second consecutive victory at BIR.
Third place was secured by David Pintaric, in the No. 57 Kryderacing Chevrolet Corvette, with a 1:29.075; while the remainder of the TA class Fast Five was completed by Vincent Allegretta, in the No. 41 TA Sights and Sounds Chevrolet Corvette, and Jim McAleese, in the No. 03 McAleese and Associates Chevrolet Corvette, with times of 1:29.821 and 1:30.642, respectively.
TA3 was led by Keith Anderson, making his first appearance in the Series from behind the wheel of the No. 81 Archer Racing Dodge Viper ACRX, securing a pole for the production based class with a 1:34.107 lap — a new track record. He was followed in the session by Steve Streimer, in the No. 43 Lux Performance Dodge Viper ACRX, and Cindi Lux, in the No. 45 Lux Performance Dodge Viper ACRX, with times of 1:34.518 and 1:35.157, respectively.
In TA4, two-time defending champion Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 BetaTools/Liquid Performance, led the way for the TA4 class with a time of 1:36.175, beating out Trevor Janke, in the No. 31 Janke Auto/ Pender Racing Chevrolet Camaro, for the top spot. The pole is Francis’ third of the year as he prepares to purse his second consecutive win at BIR as well as his third consecutive championship.
Drivers will be given the opportunity to re-qualify later today at 5:45 p.m. to try and improve their starting positions; however, drivers in the “Fast Five” for each starting group have their starting positions locked.
Both races for in the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic will be televised on CBS Sports Network. The first race, featuring TA2 only, will be televised starting at noon on July 31. The second race, featuring TA, TA3 and TA4 will broadcast at 11 a.m. July 23.