2017 Brainerd – Series Set For 26th Appearance on “Survivor’s Course” 

BRAINERD, Minn.  [June 29, 2017] – For years, Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) has stood as a unique challenge for competitors in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli, just as it will this weekend, July 1-2; as the Series makes its annual pilgrimage north for the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic, marking Trans Am’s 26th appearance on the Minnesota track.

BIR stands apart from the rest of the Trans Am schedule; it’s not a traditional road racing heritage track frequented by a multitude of series like Road America, Virginia International Raceway, Mid-Ohio or Sebring, nor an icon like Daytona, Indianapolis or Circuit of The Americas.  No, Brainerd stands alone, something unique to the Trans Am Series and a challenge in the way of all championship competitors.

Veterans of the Series know well the 2.5 miles and 13 turns and the changing track conditions and infamous Brainerd sand.  Years ago, Brainerd was labeled a survivor’s course, giving way to the drivers best able to adjust to the ever-changing challenges it presents on a given day, hour or minute.  That title still holds true today.

This weekend, 30 Trans Am competitors will tackle Brainerd, sand, heat and all, for 100-miles— their eyes on Trans Am silverware and crucial points towards their respective championships.

In the TA class, Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 Buoniconti Fund Ford Mustang, enters the weekend with momentum in every sense of the word.  With four consecutive wins, three poles and a commanding 35-point lead,  Francis has quickly set the tone for the TA Championship chase this year—his time in TA4 and the transition now almost a footnote, as he’s become the driver to beat.

Tasked with that challenge are Vinnie Allegretta, in the No. 41 TA Sights & Sounds Chevrolet Corvette, currently in the midst of a career year, and two-time defending champion Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, who will be hoping the plague of mechanical issues that have dampened her season thus far are finally behind her.   Allegretta currently sits second in the points; and Ruman, despite her troubles, holds third.

A surprise entry comes in the form of a two-time TA class champion, with Tony Ave, in the No. 8 Ave Motorsports/ Lamers Chevrolet Corvette, making his first TA class appearance since 2015. Over the course of Ave’s TA career, he has amassed 16 class wins, including four at Brainerd.

Also featuring in the TA field will be Jeff Hinkle, Kerry Hitt, Simon Gregg and BIR owner Jed Copham as well, making his third annual Trans Am appearance.

In TA2, Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, heads to BIR on the backs of two consecutive victories at Detroit and Indianapolis, with the confidence that comes with having captured a victory here in Minnesota last year.

The only other entered TA2 competitors with victories at BIR will have their hands full this weekend.  Cameron Lawrence, driving the No. 19 Class Auto Centers Chevrolet Camaro, the 2014 victor, and Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, the 2015 victor, will both be pulling double duty this weekend as they compete in the Continental Tire Series at Watkins Glen International as well.  Both drivers will undertake the logistical nightmare of taking both green flags as they continue their own TA2 championship chases.

The challenge will continue for Lawrence, who will also be fielding the No. 6 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, in the TA class as well—boosting his tally to three races in a single weekend.

Robinson’s teammate Shane Lewis, also in attendance in the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila, 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, put on a show in Indianapolis with a dead last to podium finish drive that saw him move from 25th to 3rd over the 100-mile race.  Lewis currently stands third in the points, following Robinson and Machavern, and can edge towards closing that gap with a strong finish this weekend.

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