Career-Best Trans Am TA2 Finish for Abbate in Special Tribute Livery at Road Atlanta

March 26, 2024

Shift Up Athlete Michele Abbate earned a podium TA2 Pro-Am finish - and top ten finish overall - in the Trans Am by Pirelli TA2 Mission Foods Road SpeedTour at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Saturday, March 23, 2024.

Driving the No. 30 Ghost Energy car for Nitro Motorsports among a 30-car field, Abbate took to the 2.54-mile road course on a Cope chassis and Pirelli tires. The weekend schedule featured two test sessions on Thursday, followed by the official practice on Friday morning.

Abbate’s livery featured an extraordinary tribute to her brother, Michael, a Nevada State Police Sergeant. Last November, he was killed in the line of duty by a drunk driver, and this race marked Abbate’s first time back on track since his passing.

Her last outing was at Circuit of the Americas last fall, and the Las Vegas native has plans to run a partial season for 2024. So without being at the season opener in Sebring, and with limited seat time, she was happy with her car’s handling, performance and new brake package.

During the official practice Friday, Abbate set a P22 time, running within tenths of a second of her previous personal best. When the qualifying session was later rained out, the race grid was set by from the official practice times.

On Saturday, the 100-mile race - with no refueling or pit stops - began at 12:45p.m. ET. The track was dry but green after overnight rain had washed away the rubber.

When the green flag fell, Abbate took a conservative approach, protecting her Ghost Energy car to get through the first lap cleanly. Just a few laps into the race, a brief caution period took place. Once back to green, Abbate settled in and gained confidence, consistently decreasing her lap times and making passes with each opportunity.

The second full-course caution flew on lap 24 for an incident in turn 10. The field packed up behind the safety car during the four laps of yellow. Afterward, Abbate had a strong restart, passing several cars and advancing into the top 15 before another full-course caution. At this point, several of her competitors began to suffer tire failures due to their abuse of the Road Atlanta curbs early in the tires’ heat cycle at the start of the race.

Two laps remained when the green flag fell and Abbate was running P13. She made two more passes and had just half a lap to go when the final caution flag was thrown. She would then take the checkered flag in P11 overall, and P3 in the Pro-Am class. After the race, one of the cars ahead was penalized for avoidable contact, moving Abbate up one position.

The P10 marked her best finish so far on the Trans Am National Tour. It was also the first time she stood on the podium in Trans Am since 2020.

"I cannot express in words what today meant to me,” said Abbate. “I know my brother was sitting right next to me in my number 30 Ghost Energy Ford Mustang, and he guided me safely through the field and I am so proud of our finish.

“Post-race results putting us P10, with my first top-ten finish nationally and a second-place finish in Pro-Am is really a dream come true. It proves I belong here, and I'm excited to put in the work to keep progressing and honoring my brother throughout my racing career.”

Abbate’s next event will be the the Trans Am West Coast Sonoma SpeedTour at Sonoma Raceway on April 18-21, 2024.

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