The long break since Mosport did nothing to change Tony Ave’s winning ways. The Maiden, North Carolina, resident took the pole position, led every lap and won the race in Trois-Rivieres, Canada, by more than four seconds over the second place finisher.
While Ave has been making it look easy this season, it wasn’t always so. “When you go back to ’09, we had so much bad luck and this year we’ve had really good luck,” said Ave. “I was just cruising early. I got the lead and pulled away pretty easy and I wasn’t really driving very hard, so I thought we’d be OK.”
That’s when things started going wrong for the series points leader. A fluid leak early on apparently resolved itself, but a broken header at the halfway mark would prove more challenging. “It hurt the power a bit, but it certainly was getting really hot and I couldn’t breathe in there. The fumes were so bad, I was starting to get sick and my water bottle was hot water,” Ave explained after the race.
With about 25 laps to go, bad luck struck again when Ave lost third gear from the transmission. Already losing time, Ave’s dominant 25 second lead would dwindle to just over four seconds when the checkered flag fell. Still, Ave’s odyssey was not over.
“With about five laps to go, the tires were pretty gone on the back. I did some extra laps [in qualifying] to try to get the pole, and that didn’t help, plus I was trying to conserve the brakes and try to run a little harder off the corners. If we had many more laps, it would have been pretty tough,” he acknowledged.
While Ave’s performance may have been dominating, that of the other podium finishers was more entertaining to those watching the race. Rookie David Jans, who had started his Ford Mustang in P7, finished third after swapping places more than once on the street course with second place Simon Gregg’s Corvette. The finish was a career best for Jans.
For their next gathering, the Trans Am series heads to Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, for Round 6 of the 9-race series, on Saturday, August 20.