Amy Ruman completes podium climb with win at New Jersey
Halsmer returns to TA2 with a win in big day for Miller Racing
Amy Ruman was the victor at New Jersey Motorsports Park as she notched her second career Trans Am victory. Ruman, in her #23 McNichols/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette, claimed the lead during the first turn of the 40th lap of the race and never looked back.
It was a lively race for Ruman, who battled for most of the race with Doug Peterson and his #87 3Dmensional.com Chevrolet Corvette. The duo were the only drivers to lead during the race, and while Peterson led for the duration he was unable to hold off a determined Ruman.
Ruman’s day appeared to be in jeopardy after a collision with defending champion Tony Ave. However, afterwards the track went under a full course caution and Ruman was able to pit, replace the tire and get back on track before the green flag. Those few minutes under caution left Ruman with a fresh tire and determined attitude. She later retold the experience:
“I was set up to go in for the pass, and then Tony decided he wanted to be part of the mix with six laps to go, which was a little disappointing. We had contact, which popped my right rear tire, so I pitted, then the race went under caution, and we changed the tire and luckily that was all the damage we sustained. We went back in, and I knew we were going to be fast, and I was mad, so I just went for it. I think Doug’s tires were pretty shot by that point so we made the pass and I just took off.“
This victory marked the completion of a three-race podium climb that Ruman began at Lime Rock Park with a third place finish. Next was a second place finish in her home state of Ohio at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Ruman was glad to finally be atop the podium. “It feels great, we’ve been right there all season and we finally we got it. It’s our first Trans Am win of the season and hopefully there’s going to be more. We’re in the mix for the championship and we’re going for it. That’s what we’re here for, wins and championships.”
The day went much differently for two time defending champion Tony Ave, driver of the #4 Lamers/PME Engines Chevrolet Corvette, as he failed to finish the race for the fourth time this year. After setting a Trans Am Series record with his 12 consecutive pole, he was quick to enter pit lane only three laps into the race. He reentered the race eventually, but was down nine laps. After his contact with Ruman’s car Ave retired from the competition citing mechanical problems. Ave may be seeing his chances at a third championship slipping away.
Peterson lost momentum after being overtaken by Ruman and was also passed by Simon Gregg in the #59 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette. Peterson would eventually finish third as Gregg claimed second place.
The top three in points standing will be unchanged following the race. Gregg will remain the points leader for the series with 115, however both Peterson and Ruman closed their respective gaps, with Peterson in second with 108 and Ruman in third with 104—setting the series up for an exciting second half championship chase.
The TA2 class featured a battle at the top as well, as defending champion and pole-setter Bob Stretch, in his #98 Fix Rim Mobile Wheel Repair Chevy Camaro, and Pete Halsmer, driver of the #12 Cteck Battery Chargers/Motorstate Chevy Camaro, both worked to establish a consistent lead. While Stretch led for most of the race, he lost control of the car and spun out after Halsmer went in for a pass and the cars made contact during the 39th lap of the race. After the race, Halsmer retold the incident from his perspective:
“I tried to duck inside him and get up beside the car, but I might have been carrying too much speed, so I accidently nudged up against him and then he spun out. I’m not sure he knew I was there, so that might have caused the problem, but he needs to be ready for someone to try and pass him. I feel bad that it happened, and it’s unfortunate it had to happen that way, but that’s racing.“
Halsmer was able to maintain the lead through the checkered flag, marking his second victory of the year. Previously, he was forced to sit out the last race at Mid-Ohio with back pain, but was untroubled throughout the event at New Jersey.
Finishing in second for TA2 was New Jersey’s own Michael Wilson in his #08 Wilson’s Carpet Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Wilson had suffered a broken drive shaft during practice earlier this weekend but has been impressive in his showings following the incident. After starting third he was able to capitalize on Stretch’s troubles and move into second, a position that he held until the race’s conclusion.
Wilson was pleased with his finishing position but was particularly happy to have done so with his friends and family in attendance. “It’s awesome to be here with them, they don’t get to come to every race, and between them and my crew they make everything happen. My crew works so hard and my family does too, this is all possible because of them.”
Halsmer’s teammate Mike Miller, owner of Miller Racing and driver of the Ctek Battery Chargers/Motorstate #11 Camaro, came in third and was consistent throughout the race, moving his way up from fifth. The event marked a victory for Miller Racing with a first and third place finish. The team will be adding Cameron Lawrence next week to fill in during Miller’s absence.
Despite a disappointing afternoon Bob Stretch will remain the TA2 points leader by a wide margin with 119 points. Michael Wilson remains in second with 97 while Halsmer moves into third, overtaking Stretch’s teammate Tom Sheehan, with 90 points.
Earlier in the weekend the Trans Am Series suffered damage to the paddock and surrounding area as the region was ravaged by a storm that left many teams, and the track, without power for most of Saturday. While the track was able to restore power by mid-day, many teams were left hustling to recover from the storm. Trans Am rolled on according to schedule on Sunday and the series looks forward to competing at Watkins Glenn International next weekend for their fifth race of the year.
For more details on the race and upcoming events follow @gotransam on twitter, check in at www.gotransam.com, and keep up on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gotransam.
MAVTV will also air the half-hour Trans Am Series weekend recap show produced and directed by GoRacingTV.com the week following this weekend’s event. The first of three airings will be Sunday at 5:00 pm EDT (2:00 pm PDT). The first encore airing follows on Thursday at 9:00 pm EDT (6:00 pm PDT), followed by a second encore airing on Friday at 12:00 am EDT (Thursday, 9:00 pm PDT).
About Trans Am:
The Trans Am Series dates back to 1966. Throughout the years, some of the greatest names in motorsports have participated in the Trans Am Series. Backdating the Driver’s Championship to the inaugural season, 30 different drivers took titles, with multiple Championships being won by Pual Gentilozzi, Tommy Kendall, Mark Donohue, Scott Pruett, Wally Dallenback Jr, George Follmer, Peter Gregg, Horst Kwech, Scott Sharp, Bob Tullius and Tony Ave.