The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli heads into the heart of its season with this weekend’s return visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one of the most iconic tracks in North America.
More than 40 cars across the TA, TA2 powered by AEM, Super GT and GT classes will take to the 2.43-mile road course this weekend looking to be the first to cross the yard of bricks in pursuit of hardware from the famous circuit.
Following a phenomenal race in the last TA round at Lime Rock for his first win of the season, Chris Dyson emerged atop of the championship standings by four points over Lawrence Loshak, who will miss out on the IMS weekend.
While Dyson will look to extract the maximum advantage at Indianapolis, multi-championship winning Ernie Francis Jr. still has a leg in the championship race. Trailing third in the championship by just eight points, Francis Jr. is on the hunt for a Brickyard dynasty. In 2018, the Florida-native completing a drive from the back of the TA class field to his second consecutive Trans Am win in Indianapolis.
After the two-month midseason break, and still very much in the hunt for the 2019 Trans Am presented by Pirelli TA class championship in fourth, 2009 champion Tomy Drissi has been forced to pull out of the upcoming Indianapolis showdown with a serious calf injury. Due to the severity of the injury doctors have not cleared him for the intensity of competition.
“I am devastated,” stated Drissi. “We were in the hunt for the championship and the season was just heating up. This has happened before in basketball and I feel those memories coming back. This happens to professional athletes all the time – it is the worst feeling to think I’m letting the team down.”
While Drissi and Loshak sit this round out, another former champion is scheduled to make his 2019 debut. The event marks the Trans Am return for 2002 series champion Boris Said, in the No. 2 SRI Performance/ Weaver Dodge Challenger. Said returns in conjunction with longtime chassis builder Weaver Pancho. In 2018, Said debuted the newest Weaver Pancho chassis in Trans Am competition at the Brickyard following a long 13-year-absence from the series as he looks forward to a return to the highly competitive category.
Also returning to a track he considers home is former IndyCar driver Rafa Matos. Entering the weekend, Matos is looking for redemption in the TA2 category after last year’s disappointing Indy ending.
“It’s always nice to be back at Indy, I had a chance to race couple times at the Indianapolis 500, so those memories are always there,” Matos said. “We were very fast here last year, got the pole position, was leading the race by a sizeable margin, but unfortunately a drive thru penalty for jumping on a restart ruined our race. We are very much looking forward coming back this year and very focused on going for the win.”
Current TA2 championship leader Marc Miller is determined to keep second-place Matos from closing the points gap at Indy. Since the most recent Trans Am outing, his Stevens-Miller Racing (SMR) team used the time to continue developing Miller’s the No. 40 Prefix / SMR Dodge Challenger specifically for the 14-turns and four straights.
“My Prefix Challenger has been great,” Miller said. “SMR continues to develop the car and I consistently can tell the difference. By nature, the Challenger is prone to understeer, which is something we’ve worked on a ton but we’ve never been able to totally dial out. Our recent test at Mid-Ohio uncovered a couple of things that just might resolve the issue. The SMR guys never quit — I can’t wait to get to Indy and see if I can put this bad ride on the top of the box!”
In one of the largest SGT fields of the season, Chicago-based Mark Boden leads the championship fight in the No. 46 Beverage Flavors International Porsche 991 GT3 Cup followed by Lee Saunders in the No. 84 V10PWR Racing Dodge Viper and Brian Kleeman in the No 07 DWW Motorsports/ExpoIT/Forgeline Ford Mustang, heading into Round 5. Boden won the class competition in Indy in 2017 and placed second in 2018.
The SGT class also welcomes a new driver with a significant road racing performance. For the first time in SGT history, Ken Thwaits enters an Audi R8 into the SuperGT, a playground with an incredible range of production-based machines. This weekend the class has a diverse field of entries from the high-revving sports cars from Europe, like those like the Porsche 991, to the ground pounding American performance cars with large-displacement engines like the Corvettes and Mustangs. The SuperGT class is this highest performance option of Trans Am’s GT classes, with a wide scope of freedom for innovation built into the rules. With the addition of Thwaits’ No. 35 Showtime Motorsports Audi R8, the large class is sure to put on a show of performance to fans.
“I’ve wanted to run Trans Am since I was a little boy and now that I am an old guy, I finally get my chance,” said Thwaits. “I am really excited to be here this weekend. We are able to run our Audi R8 and compete in Trans Am which is a first for the GT classes. It’s a new frontier for everybody, so we’re expecting a good result. Everyone has been nice here at Trans Am and that’s the way to go racing.”
Joe Bogetich in the No. 65 Westover Controls Chevrolet Camaro SS and Steven Davison No. 22 Davinci Plastic Surgery Aston Martin Vantage top the GT class lineup.
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli TA, SGT and GT classes take the track on Thursday for a pair of 25-minute practices. On Friday, all four classes will be on track starting with at TA2 test followed by the last TA, SGT and GT practice. Friday afternoon, the TA2 will participate in its final practice, wrapping up with TA, SGT and GT qualifying.
On Saturday, TA2 opens the day with a short practice with the TA, SGT, GT 100-mile (or 70 minute whichever comes first) feature starting at 2:45 p.m. ET. Immediately following the race, TA2 will take the track for qualifying.
On Sunday, the TA2 powered by AEM 100-mile (or 70 minutes) race will close out the weekend starting at 2:45 p.m. ET. For more information on the SVRA Brickyard Vintage Racing Weekend visit GoTransAm.com.