Mike Skeen took the lead in the run for the TA2 Powered by AEM championship by winning the pole for the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli season-opening race at Sebring International Raceway, and he never looked back.
Skeen went on to win the Sebring event, adding triumphs at Brainerd International Raceway, Road America, the combined rounds at VIRginia International Raceway and sweeping the season-ending double header at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. The North Carolina resident also won six poles and finished on the podium in eight of the nine events with reigning class team champions Stevens-Miller Racing.
“Winning the championship was very special,” Skeen said. “We’ve led it from the very first session at Sebring, and it was amazing to finish it off at Road Atlanta with a pair of strong wins. It’s incredibly rewarding. Coming into the season, I knew the competition level was very high in TA2, so I wanted to come in with a strong effort, and show well for Stevens-Miller Racing.”
After winning the opener, Skeen took third at Mid-Ohio and then won at Brainerd and Road America. A sixth in the Saturday race at VIR was his only non-podium result, but he bouced back to win Sunday’s combined round on the challenging Virginia course.
Stevens-Miller won the 2019 TA2 crown with driver Marc Miller. This season, the team went flat out, winning four titles in the TA2 category: the driver championship, the team championship and both the Southern and Northern Cup titles.
“I wanted to keep up that high level,” Skeen said of his first season with SMR. “They have a number of strong brands to represent, like LiquiMoly, Turn 14 Distribution and Howe Racing. It was very important to represent them well, and we’ve done that this year.”
Skeen pointed to the Saturday race at Road Atlanta – where he clinched the title – and the second race at VIR as personal highlights of his campaign.
“I enjoyed the Road Atlanta race because of the pace that we had, being able to fight off on all the restarts, and getting a last-lap pass for the win – all very close to home – was very important,” Skeen said. “At VIR, coming from the back of the pack in a spare car was a highlight. And also the opening race at Sebring: Coming out immediately with a win right off the bat.”
The toughest part of the season, he said, was the VIR opener. The team had put new Mustang bodywork on and Ford engine into its Howe chassis, and suffered some teething problems in a fight for points.
“But, if a sixth-place finish in this field is disappointing, that’s pretty good,” Skeen said.
“We’ve got a strong field (in TA2) with guys like Cameron Lawrence, Rafa Matos, Thomas Merrill and all those guys. Then we get guys like Franklin Futrelle and Tyler Kicera who are relatively new but very strong. It’s exciting to have guys like that in the lead pack, and I hope they will be back for more in 2021. It’s been a pleasure battling with all those guys this year, and I’m looking forward to more.”
Skeen’s season of success will be highlighted in the CBS Sports Network three-part Trans Am Year in Review special December 19 at 7:00 p.m. EST. The first episode (which features the TA class) airs this Sunday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.