November 12, 2016
Buffomante finishes 4th to secure Trans Am Series 50th Anniversary TA2 championship
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. [November 12, 2016] – Tony Buffomante finished the TA2, powered by AEM, season finale at Daytona International Raceway in fourth place, just shy of the podium, but in doing so he did more than enough to secure the 2016 TA2 Championship in this, Trans Am’s 50th Anniversary Season. Joining Buffomante in the celebrations was Shane Lewis, who won his second career TA2 race, in a dominate showing, as well as Adam Andretti and Dillon Machavern, who finished second and third in the 103.24-mile, 29-lap race.
For Buffomante the addition of his name to the Trans Am history books is his reward for a season that saw him secure five victories, seven podiums and five pole positions over 12 rounds from behind the wheel of the No. 34 Mike Cope Ford Mustang. But it’s the addition of the family name and the family’s journey that means the most to him.
“I’m really appreciative of the history of Trans Am,” said Buffomante, “but it’s adding my last name to the champions list that means the most. My dad and I have been doing this together for 35 years; we won a world karting championship here at Daytona in 1988. It’s amazing to keep doing this with him. This will continue to sink in and get better I’m sure— but the guys at Mike Cope have worked so hard and they’ve just stuck with me. We had some challenges here and there; last year we showed some pace but they just keep working, working, working and that’s what I love about them. It’s just special to me and, while I appreciate the history of the sport so much, I have to thank the owners’ group and everyone who’s brought Trans Am back to what it is—and I think the glory days are ahead, quite frankly.”
The championship is also the next step of Buffomante’s journey in the racing world, and the ups and downs of a career in motorsport. It’s also a championship that will be defended.
“This is big,” said Buffomante. “It’s right up there. When I was a kid running IndyCar and Formula Cars winning championships and races, we thought we were going to go Indy 500 and came close to making it; we had ups and downs in the career funding-wise just like everyone else in the business. And we haven’t won a Series Championship in quite a long time so to win this one in Trans Am’s 50th Anniversary—it goes to the top of the list. We’re going to run a full season of TA2 next year and maybe run a few one offs in TA. Ultimately, I just want to be with these guys and keep developing the chassis, keep working with Ilmor and Wilwood, and see if we can win some more races and have some fun.”
While Buffomante began the race on pole, a hard charge from Shane Lewis, who started second, on the first lap saw the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, take the lead. Lewis would continue to power ahead, while Buffomante would take a more conservative approach protecting the points lead and eventually falling back as far as fifth. Lewis and the No. 72 would eventually build up a considerable lead that would never be relinquished.
“I may look easy out there,” said Lewis, “but the reality was every single lap I had my car chief in my ear telling me ‘hit your marks, focus, focus, focus’ and I was constantly minding the tires as I was anticipating a yellow somewhere in there and I wanted to make sure we had some car left once the field went green. Then we had a completely green race which was unexpected, but fortunately I had enough of a gap that I could just maintain it. Andretti was coming strong, Dillon (Machavern) was coming strong, Gar was coming strong, I was just fortunate to have a gap to where I could maintain it.”
Lewis’ late season surge, a streak of four consecutive podiums including today’s victory, sees him finish second in the TA2 Championship points with 273 to Buffomante’s 303.
“The Robinson Racing crew makes this look easy, but it’s anything but,” said Lewis. “Our team’s success is because, I believe, no one works as hard as Robinson Racing in the paddock. It’s just an honor to be part of a team that does everything that they can to put us in victory lane.”
Finishing second in the race was a resurgent Adam Andretti, rebounding from missing out on qualifying, with an astonishing charge up through the field from his 23rd starting position in the 24-car field while setting the fast lap of the race, a 1:52.203. For his efforts in reaching the podium, Andretti was awarded the CoolShirt Systems “Cool Move of the Race.” Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, would finish third.
The TA2 top five was completed by Buffomante in fourth, and Justin Haley, in the No. 99 Braun Foundation Ford Mustang. The TA2 class top ten included, in order, Tommy Archer, Cameron Lawrence, Jordan Bernloehr, Scott Lagasse, Jr., and Steve Kent, Jr.
2015 TA2 Champion Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila, would finish a disappointing 19th as a brake fire ended his race and any hopes of a title defense— a battle with Buffomante that ran until, this, the final event of the 2016 season. Robinson finished the year third in the Championship points with 260—giving Robinson Racing a two-three finish to close out the year.
The year-end TA2 championship points top ten goes as follows Tony Buffomante (303), Shane Lewis (273), Gar Robinson (260), Dillon Machavern (249), Lawrence Loshak (248), Justin Haley (248), Jordan Bernloehr (207), Tom Sheehan (169), Louis-Philippe Montour (166) and Keith Prociuk (136).
The Trans Am Series will hold one more 103.24-mile, 29-lap race, a TA, TA3 and TA4 multi-class race yet today with the outcome determining if the 2016 TA Class Champion will be Paul Fix or Amy Ruman.
After the conclusion of the day’s activities, Trans Am will hold a year ending celebration of the Series’ 50th Anniversary on the evening of Saturday, November 12th, as the 2016 Trans Am Champions are honored and the Series closes out another monumental year of America’s Road Racing Series.