WAKTINS GLEN, N.Y. [September 9, 2017] – Tony Buffomante secured his fourth TA2 class win of the 2017 season today at Watkins Glen International, emerging atop the 19-car TA2 field in 102-mile race around the 3.4-mile track that saw four different leaders and a restart with only five laps remaining. Buffomante, the 2016 TA2 champion, was joined on the podium by two other former champs— Gar Robinson, 2015, and Cameron Lawrence, 2014 and 2013—completing the podium.
Buffomante, in the No. 34 Bestline Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang, began the race in seventh position but worked his way up to fourth by the start of the second lap before making his way into third by lap 12. Buffomante would overtake the No. 12 Speedlogix Dodge Challenger of pole sitter Jason Hart for second position on lap 17, settling into pursuit of race leader Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro.
Buffomante’s pursuit would continue five more laps before the No. 72 of Lewis spun on the exit of turn one coming off the paint and rumble strips, giving Buffomante the lead and creating the first and only full-course caution of the race. Buffomante would hold the lead through the restart and remaining five laps, giving the win to Mike Cope Racing and stretching his podium streak to four consecutive races. The victory is the 11th of Buffomante’s TA2 career, tying him second all-time with Bob Stretch.
Finishing second was points leader Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, minimizing the distance closed by Buffomante in the championship battle between the two.
“The 74 Ranch team is just too good,” said Buffomante. “Every time we win one, Gar finds a way to finish second. All of Mike Cope racing is fighting as hard as we can—it just seems like the only way we can get points is to win! I blew qualifying pretty bad yesterday; I was hoping to get some points there as well. Still, this one is special. I’m thinking about Mike Cope and his family, everyone down in the path of the hurricane down there. I’m happy to bring this win back for Ilmor, Wilwood, Bestline and Mike Cope—they gave me a car I could run with.”
“I hated to see that for Shane,” continued Buffomante. “We had a good race going there, he was faster in some areas, we were in others. He got loose up on the paint and the curb there, and it unfortunately ended his day. I’m thankful for getting the chance to do this; I always circle Watkins Glen at the start of the year.”
The win marks three victories in four races for Buffomante—the only miss a second place finish at Road America—as the Series enters its final stages, a span during which Buffomante performed well last year.
“This is a good time of year for me,” said Buffomante. “We don’t do any offseason testing; we don’t do any testing between the races. The only time I’m in the car are race weekends; so when they start coming at us more often we get into a bit of a rhythm and I get more comfortable. It makes us a little bit quicker. I’m looking forward to VIR in a big way. We won there last year; I love that track. Then it’s New Jersey, and I had a win there last year as well— so hopefully we can whittle away a few more points. But you can’t take anything for granted. The Robinson bunch is just too good.”
Like Buffomante, both Robinson and Cameron Lawrence, driver of the No. 19 Class Auto Chevrolet Camaro, drove from behind to secure their podium positions. Robinson recovered from eighth position after a spin of his own, charging from fourth to second over the last four laps while Lawrence drove back from eighth position to capture third with two laps remaining.
The TA2 top five was completed by pole sitter Jason Hart who finished fourth and Tom Sheehan, in the No. 97 LTK Insulation Technologies Chevrolet Camaro, a career best TA2 finish for Hart and the best of the season for Sheehan. The top ten also included Harry Steenbakkers, Doug Peterson, Curt Vogt, Phil Lasco and Elias Anderson.
Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, led laps 10 through 11 before the No. 24 retired due to suspension issues.
For continuing his podium streak Buffomante was awarded the CoolShirt Systems Cool Move of the Race while the Damon Racing team of Tom Sheehan was awarded the Pitboxes.com Crew of the Race, and Crew Chief Jamie Abue received the TraqGear Crew Chief award.
Trans Am’s TA, TA3 and TA4 classes will hold qualifying later this afternoon with sessions commencing at 5:15 PM ET in preparation for their multi-class 102-mile competition tomorrow, Sunday September 10, also at Watkins Glen.
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli weekend at Watkins Glen is being held in conjunction with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association and its US Vintage Grand Prix weekend.
All results provisional until posted final.