Sunday, July 3, 2016

Robinson Wins Thrilling TA2 Trans Am Race at Brainerd

By Dean Reller

In a race filled with spins, several lead changes and plenty of contact, it was Gar Robinson who walked away with the TA2 win in the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic for the Trans Am Series at Brainerd International Raceway.

Tony Buffomante led the field to the green, but it was Lawrence Loshak who took the lead.  Buffomante would pit early with a flat tire, but would come back to finish fifth.  Fourth starting Robinson quickly moved up to second with Tommy Archer right behind.  Archer would spin in turn 12 and drop to sixth as the race stayed green.

Justin Haley fresh from his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win on Saturday night at the Columbus Motor Speedway in Columbus, (OH) was forced to start the race 15th due to not being able to record a lap during Saturday’s Fast Five qualifying.  Haley quickly moved through the field and by lap 17, he was up to fifth.

Louis-Philippe Montour spun to bring out a full course caution on lap 18.  The restart saw Robinson maintain the point as Haley moved to second briefly before Loshak would get the spot back.   With seven laps remaining Loshak would get by Robinson for the lead.  One lap later, Robinson powered back into the lead with a strong run through turns 10 and 11.  Archer and Dillon Machavern would also get by as the top several cars continued to run in a tight pack.

On lap 35, Haley and Jordan Bernloehr got together to bring out a full course caution.  With several laps needed to clean up the damaged cars, Trans Am Series officials decided there would not be enough time to get the race restarted, so the checkered waved with 38 of the scheduled 40 laps completed, giving Robinson the win.  Archer rebounding to finish second and last year’s winner Machavern finished third.

“We struggled all week and finally got a good setup,” said Robinson who was nearly out of breath following the race.  “Nice job to Lawrence Loshak, we raced clean, door-to-door there wasn’t an inch apart between us and couldn’t have it any other way.”  Robinson was relieved that the race ended early.  “The car really had nothing left in it.  So, I was really happy to hear the checkered flag was coming out, because I don’t know what I was going to do on that last restart.”

Despite the spin earlier in the race, Archer drove hard to finish second.  “I got into turn 12 and I went for the brake pedal and I had rear brake first, which is not good and I couldn’t stop the back from hopping and I spun,” said Archer as he described his early race troubles.  “We didn’t have the motor that they had in the straightaway.  We had some cornering speed on the backside, but where I was fast they were slow and where they were fast, I was slow.  Our team worked hard and second place no matter how you get it is second place.”

TA2 Results Ryan Companies 100
1.     Gar Robinson
2.     Tommy Archer
3.     Dillon Machavern
4.     Lawrence Loshak
5.     Tony Buffomante
6.    Shane Lewis
7.    Adam Andretti
8.    Keith Prociuk
9.    Cole Carlson
10.  John Atwell
11.  Tom Sheehan
12.  Tim Gray
13.  Justin Haley
14.  Jordan Bernloehr
15.  Louis-Philippe Montour

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