Martin Ragginger scored a surprise Trans-Am Series pole on Friday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Martin Ragginger scored a surprise Trans-Am Series pole on Friday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Ragginger Scores Surprise Trans-Am Pole

BRASELTON, Ga. – Martin Ragginger prevailed in a seven-minute qualifying shootout to capture the pole for Saturday’s Trans-Am Series presented by Pirelli Atlanta SpeedTour race, the first half of a season-ending doubleheader at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Ragginger turned a fast lap of 1:19.557 seconds in the No. 17 Gin Amade Chevrolet Camaro fielded by Claudio Burtin. Chris Dyson briefly held the pole with a last-lap flyer of 1:19.969 seconds in the No. 20 Plaid Ford Mustang, but Ragginger regained the top spot moments later as the sun began to set at the circuit.

It was the second-career Trans-Am pole for Ragginger, who was fastest in his most recent Trans-Am start, in 2017 at Road America.

“The session went fast with the situation that happened in the beginning,” Ragginger said. “I hit traffic and only had one chance on the last lap to get a flyer in. The team did an amazing job on the car. Everything was working great, I just had to bring it. Tomorrow we have 40 laps, we have a good car for the distance. I am excited to go at it Trans Am style.”

Dyson was confident in his outside pole start. The 2019 Trans-Am runner-up won from the same position in 2018 at Road Atlanta.

“I was really glad we got the session in,” Dyson said. “It was looking a bit iffy there as we were losing daylight and the track was oiled down. The track workers got the oil cleaned up as best as they could and it was good to get at least a bit of a shootout out there. My starting position is ok for tomorrow. We won from there before. It’s my first time racing against Martin. There’s a lot of depth in the front end of the field this weekend, it will be a good race.”

The session was black-flagged for 35 minutes due to oil in turn 10 from championship leader Ernie Francis Jr., who suffered a mechanical failure on board the No. 98 ZF Custom Concepts Ford Mustang. Francis enters the weekend with a 43-point lead over Tomy Drissi. The 22-year-old South Floridian is seeking his fourth-consecutive TA class title – and seventh Trans-Am championship in his seven-year career.

“I don’t really know what happened today,” Francis said. “Right on the out lap, the car just blew a hole through the side of the motor in turn 10. I can’t really explain it. I guess that’s just on par with 2020. We have a new motor going in for tomorrow. We are starting from the back, we are going to just cruise around, work on points and focus on locking up the championship.”

Boris Said, seeking his third pole in as many starts, qualified third at 1:20.285 seconds in the Weaver Racing Techniques/SRI Performance Dodge Challenger. He will be joined on the second row by Drissi, 1:21.336 seconds in Burtin’s No. 8 Lucas Oil Camaro. Justin Marks and Amy Ruman will share the third row.

The Trans-Am 100-mile feature will open the day before the TA2 powered by AEM race takes to the track at 4 p.m. ET.

Mike Skeen gained another three points in his bid for the TA2 championship, winning pole with a lap of 1:23.507 seconds in the No. 677 Liqui Moly/Turn 14 Distribution Chevrolet Camaro.

Skeen now has a 48-point lead over Rafa Matos, who timed in second fastest, 1:24.327 seconds in the No. 7 Silver Hare Camaro.

Businessman/racer Franklin Futrelle made his Trans-Am debut with a third-best lap of 1:24.424-seconds in the No. 58 B2 Motorsports Ford Mustang. The 2009 Formula Mazda National champion, Futrelle is a veteran of open-wheel competition when his schedule permits.

Cameron Lawrence was fourth, with a quick time of 1:24.592 seconds in the No. 8 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang, followed by Edward Sevadjian in the No. 38 Big Machine Vodka/Duntov Motors Camaro.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham qualified 22nd for his Trans-Am debut in the No. 26 Mike Cope Racing Cars Mustang, running 1:30.162 seconds.

Ken Thwaits led the XGT class, running 1:25.898 seconds to claim his fourth pole of the year in the No. 5 Franklin Road Apparel Audi R8 GT3 Ultra. The bonus points were enough to clinch the class championship, provisionally.

Justin Oakes finished strong to beat out the SGT title contenders with a last-lap run of 1:27.032 seconds in the No. 11 Droneworks Corvette. Oakes finished third in the recent race at Circuit of the Americas in his Trans-Am debut.

Of the SGT championship leaders, Lee Saunders ran 1:27.201 seconds in the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper, followed by Adrian Wlostowski, 1:27.235 seconds in the No. 97 F.A.S.T. Auto Ford Mustang. With the qualifying bonus points, Saunders enters the race with a six-point lead.

Billy Griffin scored his second-consecutive pole in GT, 1:35.017 seconds in the No. 14 Griffin Auto Care/Sheehan’s Towing Ford Mustang. With point-leader Tim Horrell missing the event, Griffin now trails by 15 points and can take the championship lead by completing half of Saturday’s race. However, he revealed that his Mustang has a broken part in its rear end which necessitated a long night for the crew for repairs.