ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. [August 27, 2016] – Tony Buffomante, in the TA2 class, and Cliff Ebben, in TA, did not just survive the elements at Road America in today’s Trans Am races, they thrived in them—withstanding the Midwestern downpour on their way to overall victories in today’s ETE Reman Transmissions Muscle Car 100 Presented by Pura Vida Tequila, featuring TA2, and the Trans Am 100, featuring TA, TA3 and TA4.
The two drivers were joined in the celebrations by Mark Boden and Ernie Francis, Jr., who walked away with class victories in TA3 and TA4 while running in the front of the field, passing the vast majority of the TA competitors on the drenched 4.048-mile surface.
In the ETE Reman Transmissions Muscle Car 100, Buffomante, in the No. 34 Mike Cope Ford Mustang, began the race in fourth position before falling back to fifth by lap eight of the 25-lap race. Buffomante was able to work back up to fourth before a second full course yellow and used the regrouped field to his advantage, moving up one position on the restart and another over the next two laps.
Buffomante’s charge culminated with an outside pass in turn one over then-leader Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro. Buffomante would proceed to lead the remainder of the TA2 race despite challenges from eventual second and third place finishers Justin Haley, in the No. 99 Braun Foundation Ford Mustang, and Wisconsin native Tony Ave, in the No. 04 Roehrig Engineering Chevrolet Camaro.
“This whole weekend has been something special,” said Buffomante. “We were down in the points and had a couple bad races. We were looking to bounce back and rebound, and Mike Cope racing just continued to work and work so hard. I just wanted to drive so hard for them. Racing with Tommy Archer, Tony Ave, some of the best road racers in North America, out there side-by-side, door-to-door and outside in turn one—it doesn’t get any better than that.”
While the wet conditions may have caused some TA2 drivers to alter their setups heading into the race, Buffomante opted not to make sweeping changes and instead savored the opportunity.
“We added a little more downforce to the car and made sure we didn’t have any sway bar in it—just wanted the car to be able to move around” said Buffomante. “We thought it might dry out—looking at the weather—we didn’t want to go too crazy on the setup. We were joking around last night ‘you know what a good wet setup is? A dry setup!’ so we slapped some rain tires on it and went racing. I can’t tell you how much fun that was, racing that car in the rain, sliding around going 130-plus mph in the wet, as a driver you live for that.”
The victory powers Buffomante into first place in the TA2 Championship, overtaking defending TA2 champion Gar Robinson, driver of the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, for the top position 161 points to 157 points. Robinson’s race was cut extremely short, going off course in the first turn of the race suffering a hard impact driver’s left that kept him out of contention. The win is Buffomante’s third of the year, with his previous victories coming at Road Atlanta and New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Haley, who finished second to Mike Cope Racing teammate Buffomante, began the race on pole, falling as far back as fifth before regaining his position on the penultimate lap with a last gasp pass on Ave. Ave, who finished third, began the race in 20th position, moving up eight positions on the first lap and entering the top three on the 15th lap.
The TA2 top five was completed by Louis-Phillipe Montour, in the No. 12 DCW Dodge Challenger, and Shane Lewis, in fourth and fifth respectively. The top ten also featured, in order, Lawrence Loshak, Jordan Bernloehr, Brian Kubinski,
Tom Sheehan and debutant Tyler Thielman.
Tommy Archer, in the No. 54 ECC/Kolar Chevrolet, set the fast lap of the race with a 2:24.274.