By Rick Corwine
The Trans Am field consisted of 22 cars, the largest entry for Trans Am at the Brainerd International Raceway, BIR, since 1989. Also one of the tightest, with a mere .15 of a second separating the top three all under the previous track record and all in the 103 mph average speed range.
Current points leader, Doug Peterson started on pole in the #87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette, followed by defending TA Champion Simon Gregg and the #1 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette and Cliff Ebben, driver of the #66 Stumpf Ford/McMahon Group Ford Mustang.
Right from the start Amy Ruman in the #23 McNichols Chevrolet Corvette and Tony Ave, in the #4 Lamers Motor Racing/PME Engines/RPX Chevrolet Corvette began to assert themselves by moving past Ebben and Gregg in spite of their record qualifying speeds.
But Ruman hit trouble early with a spin but continued back in the position she started from. Ebben had a similar problem but was unable to continue ending his race. Gregg assumed the third spot behind Peterson and Ave.
After her spin Ruman dug deep and knocked off laps at a record pace setting the fastest lap at 1:28.974. She caught and passed with authority both of the Derhaag Motorsports teammates Gregg and Jed Copham, driver of the #40 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette and BIR track owner.
At that point the order was set but even a couple of late race yellow flags couldn’t shake Peterson from the top spot. The trio finished within a second and a half of each other at the checker.
“I knew that I wanted to set a quick pace for the first few laps to create a bit of a gap between myself and the competition,” Peterson said. “Amy had a few issues early on so we were able to do that and I went into cruise control for a while. But then we did go under yellow and it brought everyone back together and Amy was very fast at the end of the race—I congratulated her on that, but fortunately we were able to hold position for the victory.”
That makes five victories for Peterson this season and puts him in a commanding position in the championship battle.
“I don’t know exactly where I am in the points, but we do race by race and hope for the best,” Peterson said. “The team really does a phenomenal job setting up these cars and that makes it easy for me.”
Story and photos by Rick Corwine.