BRASELTON, GA. – Tony Buffomante captured his second career Trans Am victory with a flag-to-flag victory in today’s 28-car TA2, powered by AEM, race, Round 2 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship at Road Atlanta. The victory capped off a dominant weekend by Buffomante, which saw him set the fast lap in qualifying, practice and lead every lap of the race from behind the wheel of the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang.
“That was one hell of a car and one great weekend for Mike Cope Racing,” said Buffomante. “Mike Cope Racing builds a phenomenal car; there’s absolutely no question about it. Ilmor power was great today, there’s a long back straightway here at Road Atlanta and that helped with weaving back and forth through traffic a little bit—we started off a little conservative knowing that it was 40 laps, I actually thought we’d get a caution, but 40 straight laps no caution. We just kept trying to be consistent—pulling a couple tenths here and there. I just can’t thank Mike Cope Racing enough.”
The victory is Buffomante’s first since 2013, a one-off appearance at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, despite joining the TA2 class full time in 2014.
“This win is huge, it really is,” said Buffomante. “I didn’t think it would take us this long, 2013 we came out and won the race. We joined Mike Cope racing in 2014, and we probably should have won a couple last year but had a few bad breaks— some self-inflicted by me. But this just feels really good, these guys work so hard and it’s great to bring a win home for them.”
The win marked Buffomante’s third podium appearance in a row, a streak dating back to a second place finish in 2015’s Bullet Liner Championship Weekend at Daytona. Now with some momentum and the Championship points lead, Buffomante will head to his home track, Watkins Glen. Still, he’ll be faced with the same challenge as he was today, facing off with an increasingly deep and talented TA2 field, including today's second and third place finishers Tommy Archer, driver of the No. 54 Koolmat/Kolar Chevrolet Camaro, and Buffomante’s teammate Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsport Ford Mustang.
“There are phenomenal drivers in TA2 these days,” said Buffomante. “When I won in 2013, it was myself, Cameron Lawrence and probably 10 other cars. Now, you’re getting 20, 30, 40 car fields full of seasoned road racers from all over the country—Dillon did a phenomenal job, he had a great run as well, he’s just a fantastic driver with a great future ahead of him. And Tommy Archer, I don’t know what you say about Tommy Archer, he’s just a legend. He’s an inspiration for all of us on and off the track. So it’s an honor to be up there with him.”
Buffomante began the 40-lap, 101.6-mile race on pole with defending TA2 Champion Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro. However, Machavern assumed second position on the first lap, beginning his own pursuit of his teammate, Buffomante, with a top five of Robinson, Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, and Tommy Archer in tow.
On the eighth lap of the race, Tommy Archer overtook Robinson for third position, while the No. 74 of Robinson began to slow due to power steering issues. The top three of Buffomante, Machavern and Archer would continue in that order until the 25th lap, as Archer overtook Machavern for P2, with Adam Andretti, in the No. 44 ECC/ Anchor Bolt & Screw Dodge Challenger, and Shane Lewis completing the race’s top five.
Justin Haley, teammate of both Buffomante and Machavern and driver of the No. 99 Justin Haley Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, would overtake Lewis on the 28th lap as the No. 72 began to slow due to what was eventually discovered to be a burned sparkplug wire.
The top five would continue in that order, Buffomante, Archer, Machavern, Andretti and Haley, for the remainder of the race. However, Archer would step up his pursuit of Buffomante over the final three laps with both cars running all-out in a finish that saw Buffomante across the line and securing victory by four tenths of a second.
Buffomante leaves Road Atlanta with the TA2 points lead with 61 points to his name. Robinson still holds second position despite an 11th place finish, with 52 points while Adam Andretti holds third with 50. Tommy Archer leaves in fourth position with 43 points; while Justin Haley and rookie Louis-Phillipe Montour, driver of the No. 77 Montour Limited Dodge Challenger, stand tied in fifth with 41 points each.
Tommy Archer was also awarded the Cool Move of the Race, presented by Cool Shirt Systems, for his successful drive from fifth to second position over the course of the race. Gar Robinson set a new track record, a 1:26.948, on his third lap of the race.
TA2 will return to the track for yet another independent class race at Watkins Glen International on May 15th for Round 3 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship, Trans Am’s 50th Anniversary Season.