Ave Strikes Road America Gold


ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Two-time defending SCCA Pro Racing Trans Am champ Tony Ave, of Hurley Wis., won for the third time in the last five races at Road America, securing the victory in the SCCA Pro Racing Trans Am Race Friday.

Ave, who started fourth in a field that was lined up by points after rained washed out qualifying, assumed the lead on the third lap and didn’t relinquish the lead for the remaining 22 laps of the 100-mile event.

The runner-up finish for Carl Ebben marked the Appleton native’s return to competition after a driveshaft mechanical failure during qualifying for the season opener in mid-May at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. Ebben, who won at Road America in 2011 and 2009, finished 26.523 seconds back of Ave.

Simon Gregg finished third to round out the top-three finishers, and has secured a podium finish in all six series races this season. Gregg, who started on the pole, retained the point lead.

The victory was the first of the season for Ave, who won six races last season en route to the series title. The event on the 14-turn, four-mile road course is the sixth round of the season for the series.

Ave, who drove a new Corvette, was thrilled with how his Lamers/PME Engines Chevrolet team is clicking at this point in the season.

“We’ve been updating cars as we’ve gone and now we’ve built one from the ground up with all the new stuff and we just couldn’t be happier, the thing was just way faster than I was going,” said Ave, who posted the race’s fast lap speed of 115.664 mph with a time of 2:02.993.

Ebben said a strong performance at his hometown track was a satisfying way to prove he’s back with a vengeance.

“I just feel extremely lucky and am humbled by our success,” said Ebben, who competed in his first race at Road America in 1973. “We had a lot of luck today and it’s great to be back.”

Bob Stretch was the top finisher in the TA2 class, and wound up 10th overall among drivers in the 26-car field.