Francis wins 52nd pole for Trans Am season finale at COTA
Ernie Francis Jr. put an exclamation level on the Trans Am Sequence offered by Pirelli season by successful the Motul Pole Award for the season-ending Heacock Traditional at Circuit of The Americas on Saturday.
Francis shared the highlight with Rafa Matos, with the newly topped champion successful the TA2 pole in a class-record turnout of 52 opponents. As a consequence of time constraints, the TA/XGT/SGT/GT classes have been mixed and minimize to 12 minutes, with the TA2 class divided into two teams with 10 minutes a chunk for qualifying.
Eradicated from the championship for the primary time in his Trans Am profession, seven-time champion Francis ran solely two laps – each underneath the monitor document – capped by a flyer of 2m05.871s within the No. 98 Future Star Racing Ford Mustang. It was the 23-year-old driver’s fifth pole of the season, the 52nd of his profession and twenty third within the TA class.
“It’s at all times nice to get a monitor document,” Francis mentioned. “The automobile has had good tempo all weekend. We received it off the trailer and have been already tremendous fast. We’re tremendous pleased with that. We put some new Pirelli Tires on there and the automobile was nearly a second faster than second place. We couldn’t get the championship accomplished this yr but when we are able to finish the season with a win, we shall be tremendous glad.”
Third-generation driver Matt Brabham certified second in his Trans Am debut, working 2m06.771s within the No. 20 ALTWELL CBD Ford Mustang. He’s filling in for Chris Dyson because the lately topped 2021 TA champion compelled to overlook the occasion resulting from a household matter.
“I’m tremendous grateful for the chance to race in Trans Am, however clearly I’m hoping all one of the best for Chris and his household,” mentioned Brabham. “Everybody on the CD Racing group has been so nice and welcoming. It’s been fairly enjoyable studying the automobile, however I used to be a bit dissatisfied in myself throughout qualifying. I didn’t play site visitors proper and wished I’d have gotten an open lap to indicate what the automobile and I can do. Second place continues to be tremendous good, particularly the primary day out. The automobile and group did such an awesome job.”
Tomy Drissi took third, 2m07.942s within the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro. The Hollywood veteran enters the finale second within the championship.
Professional-Am level chief Oscar Teran was fourth, 2m08.743s within the No. 3 Oscar Teran Ford Mustang, adopted by Ken Thwaits, 2m09.283s within the No. 5 Franklin Street Attire Chevrolet Camaro.
In TA2, Matos rapidly received all the way down to enterprise, shattering the monitor document by two seconds on his first lap within the No. 88 3-Dimensional Companies Ford Mustang. Coming into the occasion with the title already in hand, Matos improved twice to win his fourth pole of the season and fifteenth of his profession with a lap of 2m10.539s.
“It’s at all times good to begin from pole place,” defined Matos. “It offers us the liberty to tempo ourselves for the primary a part of the race. However, there’s a variety of hungry guys on the market. Misha (Goikhberg) is in search of his first win. There’s (Connor) Mosack, who’s in good type at this time. I anticipate to have a really thrilling race tomorrow. Coping with 50-plus automobiles goes to be very tough.”
Misha Goikhberg will begin second within the class, 2m10.736s within the No 20 BC Race Vehicles Camaro. Mosack, at present third within the factors, will begin third, 2m10.962s, adopted by former TA2 champions Cameron Lawrence, making his season debut within the No. 6 Franklin Street Attire Camaro, and Adam Andretti within the No. 86 3-Dimensional Companies Mustang.
Carl Rydquist captured his fourth TA2 West Coast pole of the season. He was twelfth quickest general, working 2m14.181s within the No. 47 Racecars4Rent/Group Wholesale Ford Mustang.
Thomas Merrill recorded the quickest lap in Saturday’s lone follow, working 2m11.376s within the No. 26 Mike Cope Race Vehicles Ford Mustang earlier than sustaining a blown engine close to the tip of session. Whereas it appeared his weekend was completed, veteran TA2 competitor Tom Sheehan graciously stepped up and loaned Merrill his backup automobile, maintaining his quest to complete third within the championship alive. Merrill led the second qualifying group, eighth general in 2m12.864s within the No. 91 HPTuners Ford Mustang.
Erich Joiner scored his seventh consecutive pole in XGT, working 2m10.096s within the No. 10 Good Boy Bob Espresso Roasters Porsche 991 GT3 R. It was the tenth Trans Am pole of his profession.
In SGT, Justin Oakes took his sixth pole of the season and eighth of his profession within the No. 11 Droneworks Corvette, working a monitor document lap of 2m12.226s.
“All the things actually got here collectively at this time,” mentioned Oakes. “We did a variety of tuning to the automobile once we have been in Indy (for SCCA Nationwide Runoffs) and received the automobile actually dialed in. We’ve improved and realized a lot since we have been right here at COTA final yr, and that’s the largest distinction in our features. I feel we are able to go even sooner tomorrow with some minor changes to the automobile.”
Second within the class — and main the 4 SGT West opponents — was Cindi Lux, 2m17.973s within the No. 45 Lux Efficiency/Black Rock Espresso Dodge Viper.
Sean Younger made his Trans Am debut by capturing the GT class pole. He ran 2m24.204s within the No. 74 Corsair Racing Aston Martin Vantage.
Sunday’s races will every be 30 laps, with a 75-minute time restrict. The TA2® occasion takes the inexperienced flag at 11:50 a.m. CT, with the TA/XGT/SGT/GT race set to begin at 2:50 p.m. CT.
Observe stay timing and scoring at: www.gotransam.com/livetiming
Qualifying Outcomes: https://gotransam.com/standings/?cat_id=522#13495