The FirstEnergy Mid-Ohio 100, featuring the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s Trans Am, SuperGT and GT classes, saw a dogfight at the front of the field for the entire 43-lap race Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
In the end, Ernie Francis Jr. managed to keep Chris Dyson in his rearview mirror to capture his second victory of the season. In the SGT class, Mark Boden took the green flag from pole and never looked back, opening a lead of over 23 seconds over second place Ken Thwaits before the race-ending yellow came out.
A field of 21 entries took the green flag in the TA/SGT/GT event, held in conjunction with the NASCAR Xfinity Series weekend. The first race on the Saturday card, the teams dealt with dramatically different weather conditions than earlier in the weekend as it was cloudy and cool for the early-morning event. The field included one late entry – sports car legend Boris Said, making his 2019 series debut in the No. 2 SRI Performance Dodge Challenger that had arrived at Mid-Ohio late Friday.
Polesitter Francis Jr. started his No. 98 Frameless Shower Doors Ford Mustang in the TA and overall pole position, looking for a repeat of his 2018 Mid-Ohio win. But Dyson, winner of two straight TA class races and driving the retro-liveried No. 20 Thetford/Norcold Ford Mustang, would not allow Francis Jr. a moment of comfort on the tight, twisty and technical 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio circuit.
The duo fought hard throughout the race, Francis Jr. able pulling out a three-second lead early, but Dyson charging back mid-race with a succession of quick race laps as the pair separated from the rest of the field.
Doug Peterson – pulling double duty this weekend in both TA and his regular TA2 drive – tried valiantly to stay in the fight but headed for pit lane on Lap 10 with a mechanical issue, handing third position to Adam Andretti in the No. 17 Engineered Components Co./Anchor Bold Chevrolet Corvette.
On Lap 39, the GT class entry of Larry Funk (No. 64 Business Advisory Services Ford Mustang) went wide out of Turn 9 and hard into the barrier in Turn 10, leaving a significant debris field that could not be cleaned before the race end, with the checkered flag waving at the 65-minute mark. Ohio natives Amy Ruman and David Pintaric finished fourth and fifth respectively. Said seemed poised for a charge through the field, climbing as high as fourth before mechanical issues dropped him back to 13th at the finish.
“I was pretty excited to see if we would get back to green flag racing,” said Francis Jr. “It would have been an awesome shootout to the end. Dyson and I were very close in our lap times. The lapped traffic held us up at the end, though.
“We had a really great race and our Ford Mustang was awesome,” Francis Jr. added. “I can’t thank everyone at Breathless enough — we were fastest in just about every session. The car was flawless all weekend. I’m happy about this win and it’s good for us in the points. I can’t wait to take it to Road America.”
“We had a bit too much understeer, so I was a little too conservative,” said Dyson, who set a new race record lap at 1m21.923s on Lap 34. “I thought I was going to give Ernie a good run there to the end since we were back and forth all weekend. We were so close — and I think that is how this championship is shaping up. We will be neck and neck the entire time. We had a great car and we were quick all weekend. We can’t wait to get to Road America now.”
The SGT race, meanwhile, was a tale of dominance by Mark Boden in the No. 46 Beverage Flavors International Porsche 991 GT3 Cup, who held a sizable lead over Ken Thwaits in the No. 35 WilwoodBrakes/ FranklinRdApparel Audi R8 LMS. Neither Thwaits nor No. 44 Lemons of Love Porsche 991 GT3 Cup car driver Tim Kezman could make an impression on Boden, who captured his second win of the season.
“The car was absolutely on rails today,” said Boden. “The conditions to start the race were perfect. There are a few tricks to this place when the track is right. You have to focus on what you are doing and not what is going on behind. I love racing here — it’s one of my favorite tracks! The car was perfect to push as hard as I could to come home with championship points.”
Francis Jr. also took home the Trans Am COOLSHIRT Systems Cool Move of the Race.
Next up for the Trans Am presented by Pirelli will be the Ryan Companies Road America Classic August 22-24. For live timing and scoring, event photos and post-race recap videos visit GoTransAm.com. For live race updates follow @GoTransAm on Twitter.