TA2 defending champion Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Bestline Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang, led the class for the entirety of its independent 101.6-mile race, fending off a strong challenge from Cameron Lawrence, in the No. 19 Class Auto Centers Chevrolet Camaro, in the final stretch to capture his first TA2 win of the 2017 Trans Am season.
“To win here so many things have to go right,” said Buffomante. “Everything is just so competitive now. You’ve got tremendous drivers throughout the field. It’s a long race, and while we had a couple yellows, it’s still a lot of laps, it’s a lot of miles, a lot of gearshifts, a lot of braking points— I probably wasn’t perfect today. And that allowed the No. 19 to get closer in certain parts of the track. I knew we had the car where we needed it and I was just trying to ride it out and bring home the win.”
The race marked a return for Buffomante after sitting out Trans Am competition at Homestead-Miami, taking advantage of the opportunity to drop the results of one of the first five races of the championship, and his first full run on the new Pirelli P ZERO™ tire package as he and the Mike Cope team continue to refine his setup and strategy for the new year.
“I wanted to pedal a little bit,” said Buffomante, “but there was just too much pressure behind me to do that. I think we’ll do a few things different setup-wise going forward now that I’ve learned what I’ve learned. We definitely slowed down a little bit towards the end of the race, but it’s tough to pace anymore than we did with a full rear view mirror. You’re trying to hit your marks and be smooth, it probably wasn’t my best driving performance but the car was so good that it carried me a little bit.”
The opportunity for a last gasp challenge from Lawrence on Buffomante never came to fruition. The No. 19’s engine shut down on the backside of the course for reasons yet to be determined by the team. Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, crossed the finish line in second position for his third consecutive podium of the year, and seventh consecutive dating back to the end of the 2016 season.
Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang also out of the Mike Cope tent, would complete the TA2 podium—also his third podium of the year, and fifth consecutive dating into 2016. The finishing position sees Machavern retain his lead atop the points standings over Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, who finished fourth. Scott Lagasse, Jr., in the No. 17 Screen Your Machine Chevrolet Camaro, would complete the TA2 top five as the highest finishing rookie.
The TA2 top ten also included, in order, Sheldon Creed, Lawrence Loshak, Jordan Bernloehr, Phil Lasco and Doug Peterson.