MILLVILLE, NJ. [June 12, 2016] – It was Tony Buffomante, driver of the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang, who stood victorious after 45 laps of green-flag racing at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Round 4 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship, overcoming a 16 car TA2 field.
The race saw Buffomante hold second position for the vast majority of the race, erasing a five and a half second lead held by his teammate, pole sitter Justin Haley, driver of the No. 99 Justin Haley Motorsports Ford Mustang, and taking the lead on the 38th lap of the race— a move that came down to a pre-planned strategy.
“We knew we didn’t have the pace for Justin,” said Buffomante. “Quite frankly, I don’t think we had the pace for Lawrence (Loshak), either. But we worked on a long race, long run set up all weekend. My dad and I talked about it a lot last night; we didn’t really want them to get out much more than five seconds. Lawrence was coming on us hard early in the race, and I wasn’t able to save as much as I wanted to from rear tire. Finally, when Lawrence started to drop back, it let me breathe a little bit; and with 15 laps I went as hard as I could go. Justin’s tires were definitely gone; he was struggling pretty hard out there so I got a really good run coming off the keyhole towards the front straight so I was able to get down on the inside. It was a pretty late braking move; but I knew he was going to be clean as a teammate and as a classy racer, so I stuck it down there pretty hard and I got through. After that it was plain to see that we could pull away like we wanted to.”
Buffomante was joined on the podium by his Mike Cope Racing teammate Dillon Machavern, driver of the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, who finished second to give the Mike Cope team another one-two finish.
“The team is just unbelievable from top to bottom,” said Buffomante. “We share a lot of the information, and everyone’s more than ready to compete. They’re all just on top of each other. I mean, Dillon didn’t make a mistake, Justin didn’t make a mistake, Lawrence didn’t make a mistake, nobody made a mistake. Some tires last a little bit more than others and that’s it. We’re dead equal; it’s a stacked team.”
Defending champion Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, finished third, resulting in a tie in the championship points with 102 to both Buffomante and Robinson.
“The championship is going to come down to the wire,” said Buffomante. “Gar, Dillion, Justin, Lawrence, they’re all going to be in the middle of it—Shane has had some tough luck, he should be up there, too. I just think we’re going to be on top of each other all year long. We were pretty bummed after Watkins Glen, losing the points lead there. We came here on a bit of a mission to get it back, and now we’re tied for first—it’s going to go like this all year long.”
The TA2 top five was completed by Robinson’s teammate Shane Lewis, driver of the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, who finished fourth and Justin Haley, who slowed considerably after being passed by Buffomante. Justin Haley did turn the fast lap of the race, a 1:21.944, that now stands as a new TA2 race record around the 2.25-mile track.
The TA2 top ten also included, in finishing order, Jordan Bernloehr, Louis-Philippe Montour, Tom Sheehan, Keith Prociuk and Harry Steenbakkers.
Buffomante was also awarded the Cool Move of the Race, presented by Cool Shirt Systems for his pass on the 38th lap on the inside of turn one to take the lead.
The Trans Am Series will hold an additional Trans Am Series race featuring TA, TA3, TA4 and TA5 at 1:45 pm ET today, also at New Jersey Motorsports Park and constituting Round 4 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship.
TA2 will return to the track for Round 5 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship at Brainerd International Raceway on July 2-3.
All results provisional until posted final.