Sebring, FL - Sometimes change is good. For TPR, many off-season enhancements dominated the lives of each and every team member. The hard work was rewarded with a season-opening win in the TA3 American Muscle class at Sebring International Raceway on Sunday, March 1.
Marginal and persistent wet weather dominated the week as consecutive days of rain limited testing and practice sessions for all teams. Fortunately, one qualifying session on Saturday was dry and the TPR #39 Tremec/SKF/Backstreet Performance Chevrolet Camaro, piloted by Todd Napieralski, qualified 2nd in the TA3 class. After qualifying, Todd commented on the team effort. “I am happy with our qualifying time considering the track today. We had many challenges just to be here. We needed to improve things, our hauling equipment, and the new rules mandate a completely new set-up. Last year, it felt like we were fighting with one hand tied behind our back so we reassessed everything and made some changes to improve our team. Transitions with race hauling equipment takes time and our transporter upgrade came together just a few weeks ago. We are still moving in to our new trailer. We also have a second car this year which we are sorting out. As far as qualifying today, the track is very rough here and demands a specific set up. And then we have the new Hoosier R-7 tire this year. We need to get more laps on them, but so far, they feel really good.” Todd’s P2 qualifying lap of 2:18.108 was a personal best record for the team.
Heavy overnight rains gave way to humid and partly sunny conditions for the Sunday afternoon race. With rain threatening again, teams prepared for both options. Dry conditions held on and on the drop of the green flag, Todd maintained his position as multiple wrecks in front of and behind brought out the double yellow flag. After the race, Todd commented on the opening lap. “It was a crazy start, a few guys trying to win the race on the first lap, I guess. I was fortunate to avoid the incidents in turns 3 and 7.”
On the restart, Napieralski continued chasing defending Champion and pole sitter, Ernie Francis, Jr., in the # 9 Breathless Performance Camaro, for much of the race. Lap traffic contributed to varying gaps, however, Napieralski outlasted Francis as the # 9 began to smoke and was forced to pull off, ending his day. “We were on the back straight, the fastest part of the track. When his car failed, the smoke cloud was intense. I couldn’t see the track or corner station. It was less dense on the inside so that’s where I went and luckily it was clear.” Todd held on for the remaining laps to secure the TA3 class win.
Napieralski’s win was his fourth victory in TA3 American Muscle and his first at Sebring with Trans Am. “We’re happy for the victory but we got more work to do. I am thankful for all the support that Tremec, Chevrolet Performance, Backstreet Performance, and SKF give us. Our team did a great job this weekend and I cannot thank them enough for their efforts.” Watch the full race TV broadcast on the CBS Sports Network on Tuesday, March 17th at 8PM ET. TPR returns to Trans Am racing action in Round 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on April 12th.
TPR SEBRING TEAM
Dave Jones | Aaron Carson | Ken Fegely | Bill Kulencamp | Erik Johnson | Todd Napieralski
2015 SEBRING PODIUM