Even though he only needed to start the race to secure the TA2 powered by AEM championship, Marc Miller took an emphatic Trans Am presented by Pirelli win on a brutally hot Sunday at Circuit of The Americas.
Miller’s No. 40 Prefix/Stevens-Miller Racing Dodge Challenger was fastest in testing, practice, qualifying, and, ultimately, the 100-mile TA2 feature on Sunday. But, as easy as he made it look on the iconic 3.427-mile, 20-turn circuit, the race was by no means an easy one for Miller to win.
Scott Lagasse Jr. (No. 92 SLR/Fields Racing/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro) kept Miller honest for most of the 25 laps, even leading the race at one point. But Miller pulled it together, clinching his championship in style with his fourth win of the season.
Lagasse Jr., who got the jump on the start, charging from a fourth-place start to second in Turn 1, finished a close second, with Edward Sevadjian third, claiming his first TA2 podium.
“I loved that race,” said Miller. “Scott (Lagasse Jr) and I raced each other clean, but hard. It was so fun. I wasn’t even thinking about the championship until right now and it feels great. To not only win it for our team but to win for Prefix on their 40th anniversary — how amazing is that?!
“The day would be perfect if my family were here to celebrate,” Miller added.
Miller had pulled out six-second gap by Lap 6, but it was lost when an extended caution period eliminated his advantage.
Excelling at restarts, Lagasse Jr. whipped to the outside of Miller and took the lead entering into Turn 1. The former NASCAR driver led for three laps until Miller repaid the favor.
Lagasse Jr. was relentless in the pursuit for his first win of the season, glued to the No. 40’s bumper for the remainder of the race, but the clock expired before he could make a successful move for first. He settled for second, which satisfied the SLR/Fields Racing driver who suffered a total loss in a frightening accident at VIR just two weeks ago.
“Marc (Miller) needed to make some mistakes so I could win,” Lagasse Jr. laughed. “SLR/Fields Racing guys really put in the time to get the new car put together for this race. We had terrible luck here last year, not even starting the race; so to go out there and have some great battles with Marc (Miller) was the comeback we needed.”
Texas native Sevadjian’s No. 38 Chevrolet Camaro was in pieces last week, but his Leadfoot Racing team finished the build on Tuesday, just in time to load up for race weekend. Fighting heat and a few teething issues, Sevadjian wheeled his brand new machine to his first TA2 podium finish.
“We felt the Texas heat today,” Sevadjian said following the race. “Being that the car was brand new, we hadn’t run it with a full tank of gas. The weight distribution of the gas changed the handling a bit and it was a battle to finish where we did.
“But considering the car was just put together this week, we are extremely happy with a podium finish,” Sevadjian continued. “It’s more than we expected heading into the weekend.”
Rookie Lawless Alan placed his No. 52 AutoParkIT Ford Mustang just outside of podium position, in fourth, while Keith Prociuk (No. 9 HP Tuners Ford Mustang), who started last (32nd) carved his way through the field to finish fifth. His excellent drive earned Prociuk the Cool Shirt “Cool Move of the Race” Award.
“I chose to start from the back today because I wasn’t feeling well and I didn’t know if I could make it through the whole race,” said Prociuk. “Then adrenaline kicked in, and I felt energized. With how the day started, we couldn’t be happier with the fifth-place finish.”
John Cloud (No. 41 Ultimate Headers Chevrolet Camaro) received the Masters Class Award after starting 30th to finish with a top-25 standing.
Trans Am West Coast Championship
Brad McAllister (No. 24 PortlandImplantDentistry.com Ford Mustang) locked up the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli West Coast TA2 Championship by three points with his win over Oklahoman Anthony Honeywell Sunday at COTA. McAllister entered the weekend trailing Honeywell by two points, but closed in before the race with the extra two points for qualifying second.
It was the fastest-qualifying West Coast runner Ethan Wilson (No. 25 BC Race Cars/Western Grinding Services Chevrolet Camaro), though, who led for the majority of the race. But late in the race, Wilson’s Camaro experienced mechanical issues, leading to his retirement after 17 laps.
Wilson’s misfortune was McAllister’s gain as the Oregon driver crossed the finish line first for the West Coast bunch, eighth overall earning his first Trans Am TA2 championship title.
“I am really proud of all the West Coast guys. We came here and matched up well with the National guys, two of us finishing in the top 10,” said McAllister. “I’ve been racing in the West Coast Championship since its inception in 2017. It’s great that Trans Am introduced the series out west because it allows guys like me to race in a professional series at an affordable cost. I look forward to coming back next season to defend my title.”
Honeywell finished second on the day, finishing 10th overall and missing out on West Coast championship glory by just three points. Matthew Butson (No. 19 Butson Racing Chevrolet Camaro) rounded out the podium in third.
Michael Mihld’s fifth-place finish in the No. 55 Mihld Racing Chevrolet Camaro earned him enough points to finish third in the West Coast TA2 standings.
The National Trans Am Championship heads to Daytona International Speedway Nov. 14-16 for its season-end finale.
For live timing and scoring, event photos and post-race recap videos visit GoTransAm.com. For live race updates follow @GoTransAm on Twitter.