Allegretta Snatches First Trans-Am Pole

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Vinnie Allegretta earned his first Trans-Am Series pole on Saturday at Brainerd Int'l Raceway. (Chris Clark Photo)

BRAINERD, Minn. – Vinnie Allegretta and Tony Buffomante will start from the pole for their respective 100-mile Trans-Am Series races Sunday at Brainerd Int’l Raceway.

In Trans-Am’s production classes, TA3 and TA4, Mark Boden and James Pesek also led their respective groups as the series held qualifying for its 26th appearance at BIR on Saturday.

For Allegretta, his pole from behind the wheel of the No. 41 TA Sights & Sounds Chevrolet Corvette marks the first of his career in his 19th Trans-Am start in the TA class. The starting position also comes courtesy of a 1:26.049 lap time around the 2.5-mile competition course, a new qualifying track record.

Allegretta, the 2016 Rookie of the Year, is enjoying a career year in Trans-Am after capturing three podium finishes thus far and currently holds second in the TA class championship point standings, just 35 shy of current points leader Ernie Francis Jr. Still, even with six top three finishes, a Trans-Am win remains elusive for Allegretta, something he can remedy in Sunday’s TA, TA3 and TA4 multi-class race.

Starting outside alongside Allegretta will be Francis in the No 98 Buoniconti Fund Ford Mustang, the winner of four consecutive TA class competitions. Francis, who turned a 1:26.354 in qualifying, is yet to start outside the top two and has won both competitions in which he has started second. Sunday Francis will look to boost his victory tally to five-in-a-row, as the top two matchup between Francis and Allegretta continues.

Two-time defending champion Amy Ruman was third quick in qualifying with a time of 1:26.723, the fourth time this year she has led the second row. Brainerd owner Jed Copham will start fourth after a 1:28.927 lap, while Simon Gregg completed the TA qualifying top five with a 1:29.483.

Buffomante, the defending TA2 champion and driver of the No. 34 Bestline Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang, secured his second pole of the season with a track record 1:29.562 lap time. Buffomate’s qualifying marked the third time this weekend the No. 34 has topped the class charts, with Buffomante topping both practice sessions as well, and is the second consecutive pole for him on the Minnesota-based track.

Starting alongside Buffomante will be Gar Robinson, who turned a 1:29.657 lap of his own. Third quick in qualifying was Robinson’s teammate Shane Lewis with a 1:30.008 lap time. Lawrence Loshak and Keith Prociuk completed the TA2 top five.

The TA3 class experienced one of the tightest qualifying sessions in its history, with Mark Boden, in the No. 46 Fall-Line/ Calypso Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, edging Randy Kinsland with a time of 1:31.589 to Kinsland’s 1:31.637.

Tim Kezman, Boden’s teammate in the Fall-Line/ Calypso Porsche 911 GT3, was third quick, just short of Kinsland’s time, with a 1:31.689. Cindi Lux and teammate Dirk Leuenberger completed the TA3 top-five.

In TA4, James Pesek, in the No. 00 Rennsport KC Ford Mustang, captured his first pole in his third Trans-Am start with a 1:37.999 lap, edging out his father, J.R. Pesek, who turned a 1:38.775. Mel Shaw completed the TA4 top three with a 1:42.831 lap.