MCRE named Pitboxes.com Trans Am Crew of the Year
TEAM NEWS- CLEARWATER, Fla. [November 16, 2015] – Tony Buffomante led the way for all Mike Cope Racing Enterprises (MCRE) entrants in the Trans Am Series season finale at Daytona International Raceway, the Bullet Liner Championship Weekend; as the team closed out another successful year in the TA2 class, finishing out the season with another pole position, track record, and podium finish while taking home the Pitboxes.com Trans Am Crew of the Year.
Buffomante grabbed his third career Trans Am pole in Fast Five qualifying by turning a new track record lap, powering his MCRE built and prepped Ford Mustang around the Daytona “roval” course to the tune of a 1:51.167. This marked the second consecutive pole for the MCRE team, following Lawrence Loshak’s efforts at COTA, as well as a second consecutive track record for the team, following JJ Haley’s mark set at COTA.
“We had a really strong showing in qualifying,” said Cope. “Our team in addition to the cars we’ve built only made up 6 in a field of 29, but we had 3 in the top ten and 5 in the top fifteen. Everyone was well positioned for the start of the race, and we had a lot of the cars exactly where we and the drivers wanted them. These past two events have seen us qualify extremely well—in a way it’s unfortunate that the season is coming to an end!”
Buffomante led the early stages of the race and never dropped out of the top three, and heavily featured in the throws of the final five laps of the race that saw the lead change four times as all the top three swapped positions incessantly. In the end, Buffomante made a final pass with one lap to go to secure second position for the end of the race.
“I’m overjoyed for Tony,” said Cope. “He’s absolutely one of the best drivers in this paddock, and we’re lucky to have him and his talents on our team. His year has been a rough one, with more than his fair share of poor luck. There was a little bit more rubbing than we would have liked out there; but as he showed today, he’s always a threat to win and to have a driver of his caliber choose to work with us, to choose our platform, it’s incredibly rewarding.”
Kevin Poitras joined Buffomante in the top ten with a sixth place finish in the 29-car TA2 field, adding to the MCRE highs on the weekend, while Keith Prociuk and George Lutich finished 14th and 15th, respectively. Unfortunately other MCRE drivers were knocked out of the race in its early stages.
“Lawrence (Loshak), who is a team member of ours, was a victim of circumstances completely beyond his control,” said Cope. “Dillon Machavern, who also drives one of our cars, fell into a similar situation. Those two, as anyone in the paddock will tell you, are major threats to win, never mind podium. It was unfortunate to see their seasons end like that; they’re great talents and the race was lesser for losing them early on.”
There was one more high awaiting MCRE after the race, as the MCRE team was awarded the Pitboxes.com Trans Am Crew of the Year for their efforts and hard work throughout the year. The award took into consideration the sum of the MCRE crew’s efforts throughout the span of the year, along with the team’s professionalism and paddock appearance.
“We’re honored to be selected as the Pitboxes.com Trans Am Crew of the Year,” said Cope. “Our crew has worked so hard throughout this season—fielding over 50 entries this year, besides all of our work back at the shop in race prep and car construction. It’s been a monumental effort, but one that we’ve relished every day. As always, we try to go about things the right way. Our paddock, our professionalism—it’s all part of our product and every action we take is a reflection on us—we work to make sure it’s always a good one.”
Looking back on the 2015 season, Cope and his crew do so with pride but are already in preparations for 2016.
“2015 was a good year for us,” said Cope. “But we’re always driven to improve, to get better. We’ve learned a lot, and we’re going to take every bit of that knowledge with us in 2016. We’ve plenty of cars to build and preparations to make, with interest coming in every day; but when Sebring rolls around in March, we’re going to be more than ready.”
The growth that Trans Am’s TA2 class has seen over the past year is a trend that Cope expects to see continue, in what is quickly becoming one of the most popular, and competitive classes in North American motorsport.
“It’s a class that has everything,” said Cope. “The performance of the cars the cost controls, the sheer level of the competition in the class—it has all the ingredients you want and it looks like everyone agrees with me. Just look at some of the guys on our team or who drive our cars— Tony Buffomante, Tony Ave, Dillon Machavern, Lawrence Loshak, Kevin Poitras—they’re all drivers that you’d look at on an entry list in any Series and think ‘they’re going to do well this weekend.’ Now think of a grid of 40-plus of drivers of similar caliber, that’s what I expect we’ll see out of TA2 next year.”
Cope sees TA2 as both a place for top end drivers and those with aspirations for more.
“For drivers who want to prove themselves,” continued Cope, “and take on a challenge unlike just about anything they’ve done before, TA2 is the place to do it. At the same time, we’ve seen that it’s a place for drivers to learn and develop. Drivers like JJ Haley, who’s made incredible strides this year— he’s had great success mixing in TA2 and road racing with his work in the NASCAR ladder. It’s making him a better and more complete driver, and better yet, he’s having a blast doing it! The take away is TA2 is something special, something that we’re so happy to play a role in and something we’re proud of having helped build. Our commitment to Trans Am, to TA2, is rock solid; and we’re ready to see where this wonderful ride takes us.”
With the start of the 2016 Trans Am Championship, Trans Am’s 50th Anniversary Season, only a little over three months away, Mike Cope Racing Enterprises is still fielding car requests and potential “Arrive and Drive” team members. Parties interested in TA2 “Arrive and Drive” opportunities or purchasing MCRE built TA2 cars should contact MRCE directly at 352-585-2810 or email Mike Cope directly at Mike@mikecoperacecars.com.
At the conclusion of the 2015 Trans Am Championship, MCRE built cars and team members controlled four of the top 10, and seven of the top 15 positions in the 64-car TA2 Championship.