Lopez Rules Hometown Trans-Am Show
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – R.J. Lopez came away victorious from round two of the 2014 Trans-Am Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, his home track and first appearance in the Trans-Am Series since 2012.
“It’s a great feeling to win here at home in front of all my friends and family,” said Lopez. “I thought I was going to be in trouble; the car was wicked loose and the track was incredibly hot and slippery. I was really holding on, but I guess everyone was too. I’ve got to be honest with you, I felt like I had to win, with everyone here watching; but I’ve driven thousands of miles on this track, not in this car, but still. Our equipment was great — Meissen does a great job with these cars, and we got the job done.”
Lopez started the race on pole next to 2013 TA Champion Doug Peterson, with Cliff Ebben and John Baucom in the second row.
The race started furiously with Peterson immediately jumping out to the lead during the first lap of the race. He and Lopez continued to battle back and forth, side by side through the first three laps of the race, all while Amy Ruman moved up through the pack, overtaking Baucom and immediately challenging Ebben for third.
During the third lap, Peterson made contact with tires on the edge of the course, causing him to slide to a standstill and forcing him into the pits to change a tire that was damaged during the incident. The course quickly went under double yellow during the fifth lap of the race to clean up debris from the earlier incident. Peterson quickly returned to the track but was stuck in the midst of the TA3 pack for the laps under yellow.
Once the race restarted, it was Simon Gregg who applied the pressure to Ruman, eventually overtaking her during the 13th lap of the race.
Lopez managed to hold on to his lead for the duration of the race, but Ruman would spin off course. While she managed to re-enter the race, Ruman found herself in a daunting 12th position. Gregg would move up and immediately challenge Ebben, battling back and forth with Ebben until the 34th lap of the race when Gregg surged ahead into second. Ebben would remain third through the race, with Gregg finishing second and Lopez taking the win in the TA class.
Also worth noting was the fourth place finish of Kerry Hitt, his highest in his 12 season Trans-Am career, and the fifth place finish of Peterson, who battled back from 23rd position after the restart on the eighth lap.