The second chapter of the 2019 Trans Am presented by Pirelli championship story will be written this weekend as the series sets up at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta March 29-31. The Georgia event will feature two races on Sunday, kicking off with the TA class race that will also see the SuperGT and GT class machines in action. The TA2 powered by AEM class race will close out the weekend.
Lawrence Loshak (photo above) opened his 2019 Trans Am account with a TA class pole and win at Sebring International Raceway as his Burtin Racing squad debuted an all-new livery for his No. 3 Pennzoil/GoShare Chevrolet Camaro.
“After a rough rookie season and a long winter break, we started the year with a clean slate, and winning at Sebring showed what the team and car were really capable of doing,” said Loshak. “Scoring the win didn’t make us complacent, it made us work even harder. Road Atlanta is Burtin Racing’s home track, so I know we are expecting the same results as Sebring.”
Coming off a second-place finish in the season opener at Sebring, Chris Dyson will be looking to extend his family’s Road Atlanta legacy and drive his No. 20 CD Racing Plaid Ford Mustang into the winner’s circle — again.
“Last year was a real special victory for us,” said Dyson, a veteran second generation driver who scored his first career Trans Am triumph at Road Atlanta last year. “It was only our second race as a team in the series, and my second Trans Am race ever, and to go out, have a very competitive weekend racing head-to-head with Ernie Francis Jr. was a real boost in the arm for our entire effort. Ernie is a great young champion with a lot of experience.
“Winning that race put us in the championship chase all year,” Dyson added, “and it was a great start to our program.”
Road Atlanta long has been a favorite track of the Dyson family. Chris’s father, Rob, won the SCCA GT2 National Championship there in 1981 in a Datsun 200SX, and Chris clinched his first IMSA championship there in 2003 at the Motul Petit Le Mans.
“Last year’s victory was particularly special because it was the first race on the car for our branding partner, Plaid, and they are headquartered only 40 minutes from the track,” Dyson added. “We had a lot of their key staff there to enjoy the race, and I hope we can repay it this year. Road Atlanta is one of my favorites – it’s one of those rare tracks that’s fantastic to drive in just about anything.”
Reigning Trans Am champion Ernie Francis Jr. will return in the No. 98 Breathless Racing Frameless Shower Doors Ford Mustang, looking to make up TA class championship ground after a mechanical setback at Sebring. The two-time Road Atlanta Trans Am winner hopes to add to his impressive win tally with another run to victory this weekend.
Francis Jr. is going for the Road Atlanta Trans Am win hat trick.
“Last year, we had a really good battle [here] with Chris Dyson that went all the way to the finish,” Francis said. “We had some contact at the end of the race and I wound up finishing the race on his back bumper. This year, I want to take home the win.
“Road Atlanta is an extremely fun track to drive,” Francis continued, “especially in these TA cars. We’re carrying so much horsepower down that back straight. It’s crazy fast.”
In addition to Sebring winner Loshak, there are several drivers who have their eye on the victory this weekend, including three-time Road Atlanta winner Amy Ruman in the No. 23 McNichols Co. Corvette; and last year’s third-place finisher, Simon Gregg in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Corvette.
Gregg, like Dyson, is looking to add to a robust family legacy, as his father Peter won the inaugural Trans Am race at Road Atlanta in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche in 1973.
SGT class Sebring podium finishers Tom Herb, Mark Boden, and winner Lee Saunders will all be back in action as part of the multi-class TA class race on Sunday morning.
2018 TA2 champ and Sebring winner Matos has momentum heading into the Georgia weekend. Rafa Matos continued his 2018 TA2 championship momentum in the No. 88 3Dimensional Services Group Camaro with a win over Marc Miller at Sebring, and will look to continue that run as the defending Road Atlanta TA2 class winner.
Miller, meanwhile, will be back in the No. 40 Prefix/Stevens-Miller Racing Dodge Challenger, while third-place Sebring finisher Scott Lagasse Jr. is in the No. 92 SLR/Fields Racing/M1 Racecars Camaro.
“The season [started] exactly the way we were hoping,” said Matos. “I didn’t make the same mistakes as last year in Sebring, and we got the win. My teammate Doug Peterson also did a great job at Sebring, finishing fourth and collecting points for the team championship. We have a good group of guys making a strong effort for the title, and we are only able to do it with the help of our sponsors, 3Dimensional Services Group, Sabelt, Howe Enterprises and Prefix Engines.
“I got my first win in TA2 last year at Road Atlanta and it’s become one of my favorite tracks in the United States,” Matos continued. “I feel very comfortable, and am always very excited to race here.”
The weekend opens with Trans Am testing on Friday. Saturday practice will be from 9:15-10:10 a.m. (all times ET), with qualifying beginning at 2:20 p.m. Sunday’s TA/SGT/GT feature race begins at 8:50 a.m., while the TA2 Powered by AEM race is set for 2:00 p.m.