Mike Cope Team Ready to Build on Early Season TransAm Success
With two TA2 wins in three events, MCRE ready for mid-season challenges
CLEARWATER, Fla. [June 10, 2016] – With a fourth of the 2016 Trans Am Championship now complete, the Mike Cope Racing Enterprises (MCRE) Arrive and Drive team looks to build on its from throughout the first three races which saw Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang, and Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, both secure victories. In addition, MCRE team members now hold two of the top five positions and four of the top ten in the championship points standings, with Buffomante currently leading the way in second position.
“It’s been a great start to the year,” said Mike Cope, Owner of MCRE, “but we’re all still hungry. We know we could still have done a bit better here and there, and we’re aiming to make more and more improvements as we head into these next few events. There were a few swings of just poor luck, things you have to deal with in racing—but the talent we have on this team is remarkable, and we fully expect to have multiple drivers competing for the TA2 Championship.”
Through the first three races, the MCRE team has captured two poles courtesy of Tony Buffomante and four podiums from Buffomante and Machavern combined.
“Tony has started the season about as well as you could hope,” said Cope. “We had a minor setback at Watkins Glen, but Tony and the No. 34 have both been incredibly competitive from the very start—which is what you come to expect from a driver of his caliber. He’s started in the top three at every race so far this year, and all of us are excited to see where the season will take him. Personally, I consider Tony to be one of the top road racers in North America, and to be able to say he’s chosen MCRE in the ultracompetitive TA2 class is about as big a compliment as you can get.”
Machavern’s season has begun is similar fashion, starting in the top three every race and securing two podium finishes.
“Dillon’s success has spoken for itself in the past,” said Cope. “We’re here to help him take the next step. When you think of up-and-coming road racers he’s about as high up that list as you can be. The circumstances at Sebring were out of his control, but he’s been in contention for the win in every race we’ve had this year. We know if we provide him the car he needs, he’ll be pushing for, and securing, wins all year long.”
The high expectations within the MCRE “Arrive and Drive” program extend throughout the entirety of the roster, including young-gun Justin Haley, driver of the No. 99 Justin Haley Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, who is in the midst of his first full season with Trans Am.
“We’re incredibly proud of Justin and what he’s accomplished so far this season,” said Cope. “He’s driven his way up through the field multiple times and has proven he can hold his own with some of the top road racing talent in the country. We all know Justin’s path is going to take him to some dizzying heights in motorsport, so I’m pleased he’s able to join us at MCRE for the time being and even more so that he’s able to add to his skill set with us in TA2.”
Lawrence Loshak, along with Machevern, is currently in the midst of his first season with the MCRE team as he works on his own championship pursuit behind the wheel of the No. 5 Pennzoil Platinum/ MOMO/ ETE Reman Chevrolet Camaro, while Keith Prociuk, driver of the No. 9 HP Tuners Chevrolet Camaro, is in his second full season with the team.
“Lawrence has been putting together some very good racing,” said Cope. “He’s had to deal with some frustrating circumstances through the first two events, but put together quite a race at Watkins Glen—the podiums are coming, the wins are coming. You don’t win five national championships and a Mark Donohue Award by simply being a good driver—you have to be one of the greats. He was very strong at New Jersey last year when he was competing against our team, so we’re excited to see what he puts together this coming weekend.”
“Keith has had some really torrid luck,” said Cope. “He had a solid showing at Sebring and was in a great position to really build on something. Keith worked his way up as high as 18th at Road Atlanta before becoming ill and at Watkins Glen was put in a situation completely out of his control when a car came spinning down the hill at turn one and collected him before he could even put in a lap. Keith’s working hard and holds himself to a very high standard; we’re working to do everything in our power to help him take the next step.”
In addition to the five full-time members of “Arrive and Drive,” the MCRE team has also seen a one off appearance by George Lutich at Sebring International Raceway and expects to see his talents back in the Trans Am paddock, as well as those of Chris Lucas, later this year.
The MCRE team will take to the track at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP), this coming weekend June 11-12, for Round 4 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship.
Fans can keep up with MCRE throughout the weekend on Twitter at @MikeCopeRacing and keep track of each session at www.gotransam.com/live-timing or on Race Monitor.
Tony Buffomante, driver of the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang:
On 2016 so far:
“We starting to get the results the team deserves,” said Buffomante, “especially considering as hard as they worked last year. We had so many opportunities last year, but we’ve come so far as a team. We all thought we’d get the win a lot sooner than we did for sure, but we had some issues we had to work out—but the Mike Cope team just kept plowing through. It’s why I love this team. They’re always pushing, innovating, trying new things, and the car is never the same as when I was in it last—and that’s paying off. And it’s not just for me; all these cars are fast.”
On his MCRE teammates:
“We all push each other here,” said Buffomante. “That’s contributing to the results as well. You have a really interesting blend of experience and some fearless young guns who will push it to the limit, so the knowledge gets spread around a little bit and when the young guys push as hard as they do—it pushes us as well.”
On racing with Dillon Machavern:
“Dillon’s just a fantastic driver,” said Buffomante. “He has tons of experience, tons of talent and he’s cool under pressure—that’s huge. Normally you see young guys that’ll make mistakes and throw it away. Dillon doesn’t make mistakes, he’s clean, he’s fast, he’s everything you want in a driver. The two of us will push each other the rest of the year. Justin has his new car now, so he’ll be up there. So, we’ll have three Ilmor-powered Ford Mustangs that I think will be up there all year—we’ll debut my new car at Mid-Ohio as well.”
On his driving style in TA2:
“I can be more aggressive on these tires,” said Buffomante. “On a radial tire you can really only do one thing at a time—with these bias ply tires, if a corner requires it, I can go and throw the car in there and be ultra aggressive and throw on the brakes. I mean, the sedan cars I had had ABS! Now it’s back to the days when I used to run Formula Mazda. We ran bias ply tires, a similar gearbox, left-foot braking—in the sedan cars I was right-foot braking, clutching, heel-toeing. Now, for me, it’s back to 1997—this is a raw kind of car. I think I smoothed out with the production based racing, because you had to be patient with it; this—this is back to aggressive Tony. Thanks to my dad and Mike Stahl, who’s been with me this whole time, all these guys at Mike Cope—I can’t thank them enough for sticking with it last year. They could have looked the other way and said the driver wasn’t performing, but they just dug in and kept working away. Every time I go out there, I’m just trying to thank them with a performance.”
Justin Haley, driver of the No. 99 Justin Haley Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro
On his TA2 experience:
“The TA2 has been a successful experience for me,” said Haley. “I’ve used it to go up the ladder, and it’s made an impact for me in the truck races and the K&N races—especially the K&N East road races, getting the format of road racing under my belt. Mike Cope and Drew Braun Motorsports have helped me a ton.”
“When we first got involved with Trans Am racing, we were just trying to do a few track days,” said Haley. “Now I’ve been running more and more and running better and better. We’re trying to run for the championship, and now we’ve finally got the new car from Mike Cope and I’ve got a nice Mustang under me and, hopefully, from here on out we can chase W’s.”
On this weekend’s race at NJMP:
“I feel like it’s a short track in comparison to running ovals,” said Haley. “I did a half mile last weekend, and I did a 2.5-mile race at Pocono Raceway and this just feels so much shorter than Watkins Glen; but it’s cool to be on my own battling grounds and, hopefully, we’ll come away with a win.”
Lawrence Loshak, driver of the No. 5 Pennzoil Platinum/ MOMO/ ETE Reman Chevrolet Camaro
On 2016 so far:
“We ended the last season really strong with MCRE,” said Loshak. “We were excited to get into the new car, a Camaro, for this season. We’ve had the new car blues a little bit in the first few races, but the car has gotten stronger and stronger as every race goes by. At Watkins Glen, we had potentially a race-winning car; but all the fast guys came out with the same equipment from last year. Ultimately, we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”
On his MCRE teammates:
“The camaraderie is great here,” said Loshak. “The drivers, the crew, the whole team is wonderful. The talent here, it’s a good thing and a bad thing, because some of your biggest competition is right here in your own tent. On test days you get out of the car and you want to know what everyone is running, but here you can just step out and ask your teammate and you get a really good idea of where you stand. At Watkins Glen we were 1-2-3-4 the whole time; hopefully, we can do that again here.”
On his time with MCRE so far:
“It’s fantastic here,” said Loshak. “Here we have a really cool combination between Loshak/Stark and Mike Cope. We can do what we do best, marketing and promoting, while the MCRE team takes over all the car responsibilities— together we’ve been able to up both our games. It’s a good match.”
On this weekend’s race at NJMP:
“This weekend I’m looking for a bit of redemption,” said Loshak. “It’s hard to forget that we led 32 of 45 laps last year until the car got stuck in second gear in our old car; it was one of many ‘almost wins’ last year. This is my longest winless streak in a long time. I’m just trying to get over the hump—‘almost wins’ aren’t enough—I want to get over that hump.”
Dillon Machavern, driver of the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang
On 2016 so far:
“We had an unfortunate little event at Sebring,” said Machavern. “It was a little five dollar part that ended up breaking—there’s nothing you can do about it. But, since then— two podiums. The car ran really well at Road Atlanta and got us back into the mix and on the podium, so it was good to get back up there. And, of course, Watkins Glen went really well; and we ended up with the win.”
On working with the MCRE team:
“The Mike Cope crew is awesome,” said Machavern. “They’re all professional, know exactly when to do something and how to do it, but having teammates like this is something else too. We share setups, bounce ideas off of each other and it makes us all faster in the end, which is why you see things like us getting1-2-3-4 at Watkins Glen. We can use each other; one test session becomes five test sessions since we can try different setups and find out what’s best for our cars. This team—we all work really well together.”
On the NJMP race:
“I think we’ll do pretty well here,” said Machavern. “Loshak and I had a pretty good battle going last year before we both ran into issues and there was that pileup on the restart. I’m expecting a good result, hopefully a podium. As always, I have to thank my parents for letting me come out here and do this, the Mike Cope team and Lee Schwartz with Flowtech for putting an awesome motor in the car.”
Keith Prociuk, driver of the No. 9 HP Tuners Chevrolet Camaro
On 2016 so far:
“This season has been pretty brutal for me so far,” said Prociuk. “I had a good race at Sebring, even though Sebring is probably my least liked track of all tracks in the world. I just do not like the bumps, but I finished 18th which is middle of the pack. But at Road Atlanta I had a wedding, so I flew in and just made it in time for qualifying. I qualified towards the back, so we went ahead and decided to qualify on stickered tires and go all the way to the back. I was working my way up through the field, and then about 10 laps in I just got nauseous. At Watkins Glen, I was feeling good and qualified in the middle; and then we ended up being collected by another car. It’s been a slow start to the season, but I really love NJMP—this track is fun. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, doing better, picking up the pace and finishing more towards the front.”
On working with the MCRE team:
“We built a brand new car this year,” said Prociuk, “a Mike Cope chassis. I absolutely love this car; this car is night-and-day better than my previous car. This car is amazing, and I love being a part of this team. This team is a family. Everyone’s so nice and helpful. Even though I’m one of the slower drivers and haven’t podiumed yet, I still feel the same level of respect from everyone here—I’m just so happy to be a part of this group.”
“Justin and I are sharing data and using Michael Self as a coach,” said Prociuk. “So we’re using our information to help Justin get faster, while Michael is working with Mike (Cope) to improve my setup as well. Obviously, this is the fastest team in the class; it’s great to have these resources here to help each other.”