In what turned out to be a four-lap shootout to the checkered, TA2 powered by AEM points leader Marc Miller fended off a hard-charging Dillon Machavern to claim his first Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli TA2 class win of the 2019 season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Fastest in every session, Miller’s No. 40 Prefix/Stevens-Miller Racing Dodge Challenger bested 21 other hopefuls, crossing the iconic yard of bricks just under two seconds clear of Machavern’s No. 77 Liqui-Moly/Prefix Ford Mustang.
It was young Machavern’s third runner-up result of the season and it gave Stevens-Miller Racing its first 1-2 finish of the year.
Tony Buffomante (No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang) completed the podium, finishing third.
“It all started in the shop,” Miller said. “The car was good on the first lap and good on the last lap. I said before I got here that I wanted a car that was good on a one-lap run and good after 30 laps, and that’s exactly what I got.
“Dillon (Machavern) is wily,” Miller continued. “He’s a fast kid. I was worried on the restart. I thought he would have something at the end because we were both saving tires. It wasn’t until the third lap of the run that I finally relaxed and thought, ‘I got this.’”
Miller started on the pole for the 100-mile, 42-lap TA2 feature and immediately pulled away from defending TA2 champion Rafa Matos (No. 88 3Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro) and second-row starters Scott Lagasse Jr. (No. 92 SLR/Fields Racing/ M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro) and Machavern. Not putting a wheel off all weekend, no one had an answer for Miller at the Brickyard as he sailed away to an 18-second lead.
The race ended prematurely for frontrunners Matos and Lagasse Jr., though, both retiring from the race early with mechanical issues.
Clicking away positions as top contenders faded, Machavern took second place.
With six laps to go, Keith Prociuk (No. 9 HP Tuners Chevrolet Camaro) and Curt Vogt (Cobra Automotive Ford Mustang) tangled heading into Turn 2, triggering the first and only full-course caution which bunched the field.
Suddenly the huge advantage Miller had built was gone. But he handled the restart with poise, and outpaced Machavern to the finish line.
“The No. 77 Liqui-Moly/Prefix Ford Mustang started to come together there at the end, but by that time, Marc had such a large lead I couldn’t do anything about it,” said Machavern. “We saved some tires and brakes for the end of race, and I’m glad we did. The restart gave us a chance to get back in the race. But Marc was just dialed in this weekend.”
Buffomante drove a near perfect race, storming from a fifth-place start to finish third.
“Thought we could get two consecutive wins here at Indy, but the car just wasn’t there,” Buffomante said. “There will be seven Mike Cope Racing cars at Mid-Ohio and they’ll be coming for these guys. I won’t make Mid-Ohio, but I will see everyone back at Road America.”
Lawless Alan in the No. 52 AutoParkIT Ford Mustang claimed his best result of the season, finishing fourth, while the drive of the race was from series newcomer Max Nufer (No. 59 Manufacturing News Chevrolet Camaro) who finished fifth after working his way up from an 11th-place start.
The drive from near the back to his first top five earned Nufer the Cool Shirts Cool Move of the race.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to race with Trans Am,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here without my team and my parents.”
Charging from 20th to finish the race in 12th, Tim Gray in the No. 60 Ryan Companies Ford Mustang won the TA2 Masters Class.
“That was one hot race,” said Gray of the nearly 100-degree weather. “There’s so much history here in Indy and I’m glad we could add to it.”
The TA2 powered by AEM drivers and teams have a quick turn around for the next event, traveling to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next weekend (Aug. 8-10) to support NASCAR’s Xfinity series.
For more information, full results, post-race recap videos, event photos and the upcoming schedule, visit GoTransAm.com.