Francis Strikes Again With Trans-Am Series

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Ernie Francis Jr. won again in Trans-Am Series competition Sunday at Virginia Int'l Raceway.
Ernie Francis Jr. won again in Trans-Am Series competition Sunday at Virginia Int'l Raceway.

ALTON, Va. – Trans-Am Series presented by Pirelli wrapped up the Heacock Classic Gold Cup on Sunday with the final race of its doubleheader with all five classes taking the green in a singe race at Virginia Int’l Raceway.

The 41-car field generated action from the drop of the flag all the way to the checkered flag, with three safety car periods setting up dramatic restarts.

In the headlining TA class, Ernie Francis Jr. held off Chris Dyson on a late restart and scored his 46th career Trans-Am Series presented by Pirelli victory by a scant .911 seconds.

The 22-year-old six-time Trans-Am champion is credited with leading all the way in the No. 98 One South Wealth Advisors Ford Mustang. It wasn’t as easy at that looks as Chris Dyson made numerous attempts to nose ahead in the No. 20 Plaid Ford Mustang. The win marked a record-breaking moment for Francis as he passed Scott Pruett for fourth on the all-time list with his 23rd overall TA victory.

“I can’t say enough about my team,” said Francis. “We were worried about a doubleheader weekend and how that would affect the car. Everything went smooth and they were on top of it. The car was on rails the entire weekend. It is great to be able to maximize on points this weekend with two wins. We got good momentum going towards the rest of the season so we can take home the championship. I can’t wait to get to the next one!”

Dyson was disappointed after coming so close to the victory.

“It never feels good to come in second,” Dyson said. “We are here to win, but we had a great battle the entire way with Ernie (Francis Jr.) VIR is a tough place to pass, but that is how it is. We got held up a bit and I had more work to do than I thought. We had enough to rein Ernie in, but not enough to get by.”

Amy Ruman completed the podium, placing third in the No. 23 McNichols Company Corvette.

TA2 Powered by AEM point leader Mike Skeen came from last to first to win his fourth race of the season. Parking his No. 77 Liqui Moly Camaro after struggling to sixth on Saturday, Skeen borrowed Bob Lima’s No. 63 Camaro for the race.

Saturday winner Tyler Kicera pulled away at the start, dominating the race in the No. 4 Carbotech Brakes Ford Mustang, while Skeen battled into podium contention. Lined up third on a restart with four laps remaining, Skeen quickly passed Cameron Lawrence in the No. 8 3-Dimensional Services Mustang and then Kicera.

Skeen took the checkered flag by .248-seconds ahead of Kicera, with Lawrence a close third. Keith Prociuk ran a very competitive race in the No. 9 HP Tuners/Mike Cope Mustang, while Doug Peterson finished fifth in the No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang.

After coming up short on Saturday, Erich Joiner ran a dominant race to take his third XGT victory in the No. 10 Championship Coffees and Tool Porsche 911 GT3 R. Point leader Ken Thwaits took second in the No. 5 Franklin Road Apparel Audi R8 LMS Ultra, and unofficially leads by 41 points.

After finishing second three times, Adrian Wlostowski scored his first career SGT triumph in the No. 96 F.A.S.T. Auto Ford Mustang. He led most of the race, although he had to repass Lou Gigliotti midway through the event to maintain his advantage.

In GT, Steven Davison scored his second victory of the season in the No. 22 Davinci Plastic Surgery Aston Martin Vantage, beating Saturday winner Billy Griffin in the No. 14 Griffin Auto Care Mustang. Point leader and two-time winner Tim Horrell packed up the No. 45 Breathless Racing Porsche GT4 Clubsport after retiring with mechanical issues in the Saturday event. Horrell now leads Davison by 34 points.

The race had three full-course cautions. The first waved on lap two to retrieve the stopped No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Camaro of Rafa Matos, who stopped in turn five. On lap 17, Aaron Pierce spun in turn five and was collected by another car that was able to continue. The final caution, on lap 22, was for the Gigliotti-Saunders incident.