BRAINERD, Minn. – Tomy Drissi took advantage of Ernie Francis Jr.’s mid-race misfortune to win Sunday’s Ryan Companies presents the Jed Copham Tribute Weekend at Brainerd Int’l Raceway.
The victory marked Drissi’s ninth overall Trans-Am win (four in the West Coast Series, five in the National series) in Trans-Am Series presented by Pirelli competition.
Francis pulled to an 18.6-second lead in a bid for a third-consecutive triumph while Drissi was involved in a battle with Amy Ruman for second. That proved to be the fight for the win, as Francis went out with mechanical problems shortly after Drissi passed Ruman for second.
“I was patient today,” said Drissi, whose last victory was at Watkins Glen in 2018. “Burtin Racing gives me a lot of confidence. We would not be as fast without Lucas Oil Slick Mist. It’s great to be P1 at Brainerd. I am sorry that Ernie had the misfortune. It has been 10 years since I was here, and they have done a wonderful job, it looks amazing. It was like Jed (Copham) was riding along with me in the car. I finished second last time I was here, so it is great to be on top!”
For lap after lap, Ruman in the No. 23 McNichols Company Corvette managed to hold off her long-time rival. Drissi managed to get by in the Cloverleaf Corner on the 19th lap to put the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro. Losing her power steering in the closing laps, Ruman still finished second, 46.612 seconds back.
“It was a good battle with Tomy,” Ruman said. “I wish were had more mid-race and at the end. We lost power steering and a lot of grip. Giving Jed a tribute was our pleasure today.”
Moments after Drissi passed Ruman, Francis went off course twice in three corners with a problem with the No. 90 One South Florida Ford Mustang. He limped to the pits, but his day was over.
“I thought I had a tire going down, so I radioed the crew,” Francis said. “Then I knew it was the suspension as soon as I got on the brakes. I almost put it in the pit wall. But at least we showed our speed out there today.”
Simon Gregg rounded out the podium in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Camaro, holding off Humaid Al Masaood by .905-seconds after the No. 21 Amamos LaVida Tequila Mustang challenged him throughout the event.
Kerry Hitt earned top honors in the Trans Am Masters Class, driving the No.19 Advanced Composite Products Inc Cadillac CTS-V. Hitt has decades of experience at Brainerd dating all the way back to 1989 racing against Trans Am racer turned Race Director Dorsey Schroeder.
Lee Saunders took the checkered flag in SGT, winning his second race of the year in the Sebring-winning No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper.