CLEARWATER, Fla. (July 7, 2015) – For the second year in a row, a Mike Cope Racing Enterprises (MCRE) built car emerged victorious on the infamous “survivors course” at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR); as the Trans Am Series held the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic, Round 6 of the 2015 Trans Am Championship.
This year it was 20-year-old Dillon Machavern, driving an MCRE built Riggins Engineering prepped Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, who crossed the checkered flag in the lead of a 20-car TA2 field—giving the MCRE platform its second win of 2015.
“It’s great to see Dillon finally capture his first TA2 win,” said Mike Cope, Owner of MCRE. “He’s an exceptionally bright young talent in road racing, and he’s been second on the podium multiple times this year. Finally, the cards were in Dillon’s favor, and he was able to pull it all together. BIR isn’t necessarily an easy track to race on, yet he showcased both sides of the platform’s capabilities: the endurance to pull off a win at the end and the top end speed by setting the fast lap of the race. We’re all extremely proud of Dillon and his accomplishments, at BIR and throughout the year, and are pleased to say he drives an MCRE built car.”
Tony Ave, driving an MCRE built Tony Ave Racing prepped Ford Mustang, finished fifth in the TA2 class; but he, like many other MCRE platform drivers, saw his race affected by both traffic and an unfortunately split restart, the consequence of the multiclass racing at BIR—with TA, TA2 and TA3 all on the track at the same time.
“To say it was a little hectic out there is an understatement,” said Cope. “It made for a great show and some exhilarating racing, but, yes, the sheer traffic and the gritty, slippery conditions did impact the race; but it was something that everyone had to deal with—not just us. Tony was unfortunate to get caught a lap down when the pace car and TA leader split the field under yellow, distancing the top three TA2 drivers from everyone else. Usually a full-course yellow gives you a chance to regroup, recover and challenge for the podium but, unfortunately, that was not the case at BIR. I imagine, if given the opportunity, Tony would have had something for the leaders.”
Tony Buffomante, Kevin Poitras and Keith Prociuk, all members of the MCRE “Arrive and Drive” program, were faced with the same obstacles and environmental challenges—traffic and track conditions—but were able to secure solid finishes of their own.
“Survival at BIR came first and foremost,” said Cope. “And while the early yellow pretty much eliminated their chances at victory, Tony, Kevin and Keith fought hard for every inch and position. It’s fair to say racing threw everything at us it possibly could; and I’m proud of how they held up and performed, despite some serious adversity. Kevin was the only one of the three who had raced here before; he was able to use that knowledge to his advantage for a top ten finish.”
The Brainerd Race also marked the halfway point for the Trans Am season, and while the MCRE team has experienced success, Cope expects continued improvement as the season goes on.
“We’ve learned a lot from the first half of the year,” said Cope. “The challenge is to now take it and apply it going forward; we still have six races left—that’s a lot of podiums and a lot of points—and we expect to be vying for all of them. We’re going to keep working hard on these cars and our platform and take it one race at a time.”
The MCRE team will now begin preparations for Round 7 of the 2015 Trans Am Championship at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in what should be one of the highlights of the 2015 Season.
“Word is we’re looking at over 40 TA2 cars entered at Mid-Ohio,” said Cope. “It’s going to be a great show, and everyone is excited to be a part of it and the spotlight that comes with it— TA2 will again have a standalone race and its own show on CBS Sports Network. As always, we’re going to work hard to put our drivers in the best possible position to challenge for the win in what should be one of the greatest races in all of Trans Am history.”
MCRE still has multiple rental “Arrive and Drive” opportunities available for drivers throughout the remainder of the 2015 season and is currently working towards adding “Arrive and Drive” members for the 2016 Trans Am Championship—interested parties should contact MCRE directly.
Fans can watch all the Trans Am action and MCRE cars take to the track at BIR on Saturday, July 25 at 12:00 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.
As of the completion of Round 6 at Brainerd International Raceway, MCRE built cars control six of the top 15 positions in the 2015 Chase for the Trigon Trophy TA2 class point standings.