In sunny and hot conditions, Tyler Maxson and the No. 74 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N reigned supreme in Round 3 of the TC America season on Friday afternoon.
Maxson led away from the start and never looked back, taking his third straight TC America win to kick off the season.
“We have had a really great start to the season and the team had this car on rails today. We’re going to keep pushing and going for more!” said Maxson.
Scott Smithson and the No. 17 DXDT Racing Honda Civic Type-R immediately attacked Victor Gonzalez Jr in his No. 99 VGMC Honda Civic Type-R at Turn 1, taking over second position with an impressive inside pass.
Tristen Herbert in the No. 44 New German Performance Audi RS3 LMS DSG, who started fifth, would move up two positions and finish an impressive third with Luke Rumberg and the No. 16 Rumcastle VW Golf GTI DSG fourth. Victor Gonzalez Jr, in the No. 99 VGMC Honda Civic Type-R, cut a tire late in the race and fell through the order, but set the fastest lap of the race, giving him pole for Race 2.
A single safety car was called on Lap 2 as the No. 28 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS of Ben Bettenhausen slid off into the tires at Turn 1. As the field lined up behind the safety car, Maxson remained in the TCR class lead, Toby Grahovec lead in TC in the No. 26 Classic BMW M240iR, with Mark Pombo on top of the TCA field in the No. 61 MINI JCW Team Mini Cooper.
In the TC division the top four were running nose to tail with 22 minutes to go when 2019 champion Johan Schwartz in the No. 31 Hard Motorsport BMW M240iR made a daring inside move at the Turn 1 braking zone to snatch the lead from Grahovec. James Clay in the No. 36 BimmerWorld BMW M240iR then followed Schwartz through to claim second position in class at the Turn 3-4 complex.
Schwartz slowly pulled away from his rivals and go on to take the class victory as the three behind him battled for the final podium positions.
“These cars are so even and they don’t draft that well, but still make for some fun racing. I had a great battle with Toby for the lead and was able to get him in a braking zone and go from there. Such a fun race out there today,” said Schwartz.
On the final lap, Grahovec pulled beside Clay on the final turn and won a drag race to the finish line and claim second position by 0.124s, with Clay settling for the final podium position.
In the TCA class, teammates Pombo and Tomas Mejia in the No. 60 MINI JCW Team Mini Cooper easily pulled away from the rest of the field and went on to claim a 1-2 finish. After a race-long game of cat and mouse, Mejia overtook Pombo for the lead at Oak Tree in the final minutes of the race and claimed the win.
“We had a great finish at COTA in March, so we are excited to be able to come out here and do it again at VIR. The whole team made this car perfect today for a great race between Mark and I today,” said Mejia.
Tyler Gonzalez and the No. 57 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster Turbo finished third in class.
Race 2 goes green on Saturday at 11:30am ET, streaming live at tcamerica.us/watch-live.