Scott Smithson scored his second straight overall TCR win in Sunday’s drama-filled, action-packed TC America race at Road America. Toby Grahovec out-dueled James Clay for the TC victory, while Tyler Gonzalez won TCA.
Victor Gonzalez Jr. and Roy Block finished second and third in TCR, while Austen Smith, in the No. 21 Auto Technic Racing BMW M240iR Cup finished behind Clay for third in TC. Kevin Boehm and Tomas Mejia finished second and third in TCA.
As TCR polesitter Gonzalez Jr. in the No. 99 VGMC Racing Honda Civic Type-R brought the field to green, drama ensued behind him in the TC field as a number of machines came together and collected just prior to the start/finish line. TC championship contender Johan Schwartz in the No. 31 Hard Motorsports BMW M240iR was collected along with Chandler Hull in the No. 94 BimmerWorld BMW M240iR and Bryson Lew in the No. 27 Classic BMW BMW M240iR. Race officials immediately issued a full-course yellow and then issued a red flag to stop the clock and allow crews to clean up the front straight. The drivers involved all walked away from the incident. Gonzalez Jr. spun in Turn 1 as the yellow came out and was shuffled to the back of the TCR field.
After an extensive clean-up, the race restarted with 38 minutes remaining. On the restart, Tim Lewis Jr. in the No. 55 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta led the field to green followed by Block in the sister No. 5 machine. Behind them Smithson, in the No. 17 DXDT Racing Honda Civic Type-R slotted into third, while Gonzalez Jr. charged up into fourth through the first few corners of the restart lap.
In TC, Grahovec, piloting the No. 26 Classic BMW BMW M240iRs, launched into the lead ahead of Clay in the No. 36 BimmerWorld BMW M240iR. VGMC Racing’s Jonathan Newcombe, in the No. 178 Honda Civic Si led in TCA, pursued by Gonzalez, in the No. 57 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster Turbo.
Over the next number of laps, Smithson began his hunt for the lead in TCR, while heated back and forth battles raged between Grahovec and Clay in TC, and Newcombe and Gonzalez in TCA. By Lap 5 Smithson had moved into second and pursued leader Lewis Jr. with under a second buffer between them.
On Lap 6, Smithson closed on Lewis Jr. and the two machines came together through Turn 1 with both drivers deftly saving slides to continue heading the overall field. Then on Lap 7, Smithson passed Lewis Jr. for the lead through Turn 5. Lewis then fell into the clutches of Gonzalez Jr. in the Kettle Bottoms section of the track and by Lap 8 Smithson crossed the line ahead of Gonzalez Jr. and Lewis Jr., while Grahovec and Clay continued their battle in TC. Behind them, Gonzalez took over the lead in TCA and began to pull away from the rest of the class field.
As the race entered its final stages, Smithson continued to hold a comfortable lead on Gonzalez Jr., while Kevin Boehm, in the No. 9 Boehm Racing Honda Civic Si winner of both Friday’s and Saturday’s TCA races began a furious late race push to try to catch Gonzalez.
On the white flag lap, Clay led over Grahovec but the driver of the No. 26 machine executed a thrilling, high speed pass for the lead through the kink and at the checkered crossed the line 0.112s ahead for the TC victory. Smithson crossed the line by 1.4s over Gonzalez Jr., with Block in third. Gonzalez won over Boehm by 0.817s, with Mejia, in the No. 60 MINI JCW Team MINI Cooper JCW crossing the line third.
“He (Gonzalez Jr.) had some pace, and I kept making mistakes and I was really wearing my fronts down,” said Smithson. “Luckily for the back section I had the carousel and the kink to just pull on him otherwise he probably would have gotten by me.”
TC America teams now look ahead to September 17-20 at Circuit of The Americas for Rounds 12, 13 and 14.