After taking five pole positions in the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series, Tony Ave was at it again in qualifying for the 2010 season opener at New Jersey Motorsports Park, but he got the pole by the slimmest of margins over 2009 Trans-Am champion Tomy Drissi.
Ave, of Maiden, North Carolina, established the Trans-Am track record at New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt Raceway with a best lap of 1:18.426 (103.282 mph) in the #4 Tony Ave Racing/Pro Motor Engines Chevrolet Corvette. He turned his quick lap midway through the 30-minute session, giving him an advantage of six-tenths of a second over Drissi at the time.
However, defending SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series champion Tomy Drissi couldn’t be held off in the first race of 2010, as the racer from Hollywood, CA, kicked off the season at New Jersey Motorsports Park by taking the third victory of his Trans-Am career.
Driving RSR’s #5 Marmaduke – June 4 Jaguar XKR, Drissi stalked polesitter Tony Ave for the first 13 laps of the 40-lap, 90-mile race before pouncing on an opportunity in traffic. Heading down the front straightaway, he took the lead heading into Turn 1. Once clear of Ave, Drissi managed to build a comfortable lead until a full-course caution for debris came out on Lap 25.
“We won! It was a great race,” said Drissi. “I really had to fight to get around Tony Ave, it took several laps to get around him at the start. The RSR team was just awesome and put together an amazing race car for me this weekend. The car just got better and better and faster all weekend. So when we started the race, all I had to do was do my job and drive the car. But I did have to push, because when I got by Ave he came back after me.”
On the ensuing restart, Drissi managed to withstand significant pressure from Ave for a few laps before again pulling away over the remainder of the race. He went on to win by 4.652 seconds over RJ Lopez.
Lopez, of Bal Harbour, Florida, had predicted after qualifying that his #6 WabashPower.com/Mobil 1/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette would be one to beat after 10 laps in the race – and that prediction held true.
A few laps after Drissi claimed the lead, Lopez found his way past Ave and settled into second place. Ave took advantage of the full-course yellow, however, and found his way past Lopez for a time. After a while, Lopez managed to reel Ave in and take second away in the closing laps.
Daniel Ramoutarsingh, of Trinidad, drove the #8 TRINRICO Steel & Wire Products Jaguar XKR to a fourth-place finish. It was the sixth top-five result in eight Trans-Am races for the 2009 Rookie of the Year.
Amy Ruman completed the top five in the #23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette for Ruman Racing. She and Joey Scarallo in the #06 Group A Racing Chevrolet Corvette had a close battle going for fifth in the middle stages of the race before Scarallo, of Hauppage, NY, retired due to a mechanical problem.
The Trans Am series continues on May 23, 2010 at Mosport International Raceway near Bomanville, Ontario, Canada.