Ruman withstands duels with Ave and Gregg to claim victory
Sep. 2, 2012 - Brainerd, MINN - Amy Ruman was victorious in the second Trans Am race at Brainerd International Raceway this weekend. She had to withstand a rigorous duel with two-time defending champion Tony Ave in the first half of the race and a furious challenge from points leader Simon Gregg over the final two laps. After a disappointing debut in the first race of the Trans Am double-header weekend, Amy Ruman and the #23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette returned with a new setup and a vengeance.
Ruman started in fourth position and passed both Simon Gregg and Doug Peterson in first lap. She then caught up to and followed two-time defending champion Tony Ave for the first 20 laps, tailing the #4 Lamers/PME Engines/RPX Chevrolet Corvette through every turn, never relenting. On the 21st lap of the race Ave began to loose air in his front left tire and developed a flat spot on his tire, Ruman capitalized on the opportunity and she surged by Ave to claim the lead.
Ruman comfortably set the pace afterwards as Ave continued to loose speed. Despite setting the track record at Brainerd International Raceway earlier in the race, a time of 1:30.881 displacing his prior record of 1:31.116, Ave eventually developed a flat and had to pit in, puting the vetran back a lap.
Ruman’s lead wouldn’t be safe for the entire duration of the race though, as points leader Simon Gregg rallied from over ten second back to challenge Ruman. At the start of the 38th lap it became apparent that Gregg and the #59 Gregg Motorsports were back in the running for the lead, challenging Ruman on multiple occasions.
It all came down to the final lap of the race, Gregg made a final surge going into corner #6 but was fended off by one last push from Ruman who was able to distance herself from Gregg and hold on to the victory.
Gregg related the surge:
“It was a really exciting race, the car held up well and didn’t diminish like it did yesterday, allowing for a great battle for the lead at the end and we did it without contact today so that’s a good race. It was quite close, especially in turn four through six, I was right behind her, but Amy did a great job holding the lead.”
As Ruman took the podium she was clearly pleased with the efforts of her team and crew after retuning the #23 McNichols Corvette overnight. She related the race to the fans:
“I owe this one to the guys and my dad for getting the car together today. Tony seemed to be having the same problem I was having yesterday, so we were content staying behind him for a while. My plan was to get upfront and just try and maintain position, luckily my tires held up and we got the victory today. We almost pulled it off last year and it feels great to bring home one of the wins this weekend. While it hurt us yesterday that we didn’t land on the podium in terms of the championship hunt, we were just focused on the tires today. And luckily it worked out and we were number one.”
Gregg would finish second behind Ruman, exchanging places with Doug Peterson on the podium from the first race. This time Peterson and the #87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette ended up third while Gregg claimed the second place spot.
Simon Gregg and the #59 Corvette completed their 72nd consecutive race this weekend and have now finished on every podium this year. Gregg will retain the series points lead with 217, 15 ahead of Amy Ruman, who remains in second place.
In TA2 Bob Stretch, in his #06 Fix Rim Mobile Wheel Repair Chevrolet Camaro, returned to the top of the podium. Despite starting third for the class, Stretch powered his way by both Cameron Lawrence and the pole-setter Pete Halsmer on the first lap. It was a lead Stretch would not relinquish even with Halsmer and the #12 Ctek Battery Chargers/Allstar/Motorstate Chevrolet Camaro bearing down on him throughout the race. Stretch was clearly pleased with the result and, like Ruman, was quick to credit his crew for adjustments they made to handle the difficult Brainerd surface:
"We missed the setup a bit yesterday, and I want to thank my crew for doing an outstanding job. This is the first time we've run four cars in a weekend and my crew really made the difference today through the work they put in. I was a little too agressive yesterday and I redid my strategy a bit and came out on top. I love Atlanta and I'm looking forward to racing there at the next event."
Halsmer would end up second in the race while Trans Am rookie Michael Wilson and his #00 Wilson’s Carpet Pontiac Grand Prix came in third. It was Wilson’s second podium of the year and culminated what had been a long haul from native New Jersey, where he had claimed his first podium placement earlier this year.
All TA2 drivers who finished in positions 3 through 9 were Trans Am rookies.
Tim Gray and the Ryan Companies US Inc. Porsche GT-3 would take home their second first place GGT finish of the weekend, outlasting GGT points leader Cuck Cassaro.