Reigning Series Champion Francis Returns to Winning Ways at Trans Am SpeedFest
Trans Am SpeedFest to conclude with TA2, SVRA feature races May 5
Reigning two-time Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli Ernie Francis Jr. was getting tired of seeing the taillights of Burtin Racing teammates Lawrence Loshak and Tomy Drissi, who finished 1-2 at both 2019 events heading into Trans Am SpeedFest. Just as the contemporary Trans Am series returned to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca following a 15-year absence, Francis returned to form with a compelling victory from the pole position.
The 21-year-old driver positioned himself and the Breathless Racing team for a wire-to-wire victory after an impressive qualifying performance to earn his first pole of the season, but the No. 98 Frameless Shower Doors Ford Mustang had to gallup to overcome Loshak’s early jump at the start of the 100-mile race.
“It felt really great to get the pole to help us feel happy about this weekend,” said Francis. “Lawrence got a good jump on the start while I spun the tires a little bit too much. I knew I had to chase him down. I wanted to get out in the lead and try to stretch it.”
Once Francis got around the points leader, he would not relinquish a lead that he kept continued stretching with every lap around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course. The 11th career win in the TA class and 34th overall win in the series for Francis is his first since turning 21 this January.
“I’m going to take a drink of that champagne this time,” joked Francis. “It was a great race. Katech gave us a great motor for this weekend. I finally feel like I have the power to compete with these guys.”
Loshak and Drissi continued to compile points with respective finishes of second and third to occupy the remaining spots on the podium.
“The Breathless Racing team was in a different zip code today,” Loshak conceded. “The defending champ showed us why he is champ.”
There was a good battle for the fourth position between Simon Gregg, whose late father Peter Gregg had his share of successes at the same facility, and two-time TA champ Amy Ruman. Gregg got the edge over the Ohio native by a two-second margin on the final lap.
The SuperGT and GT categories competed in the same race. Dirk Leuenberger captured the SuperGT win in the No. 35 Dodge Viper. In GT, Mitch Marvosh stood tall atop the podium after wheeling the No. 29 Chevrolet Corvette to victory.
The feature race on Sunday will be the muscle cars of the TA2 class presented by AEM beginning their 100-mile competition at 1:10 p.m. The historic race cars of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association will have morning and afternoon feature races in every run group. Fans can also enjoy the Fan Walk at 12:30 p.m., the Jaguar Driving Experience featuring Davy Jones and Roberto Guerrero and other activities throughout the paddock and Hagerty Marketplace.
Ticket information for Sunday’s Trans Am SpeedFest conclusion, other 2019 premier events and the 2019 Season Pass are available here. Children 15 and under are admitted free with a ticket-purchasing adult.
Images by Race Photos Online