Despite a late-race caution that cut a 30-second lead down to under two seconds, Jacob Ruud cruised to a dominant TCX and overall victory over teammate Tommy McCarthy in the TC America season opener at Sonoma Raceway.
“I think we have a strong car for the season,” said the race-winning driver of the No. 81 Classic BMW M2 CS (Cup). “I was able to save my tires today, so I was still comfortable during the late caution and was able to pull it out. It’s great to get this first win.”
Ruud also notched the fastest lap of the race with a 1m51.157s, giving him pole for Sunday’s Race 2.
As the green flag flew, pole winner Ruud jumped out to a lead of nearly 2s by the end of the opening lap over teammate Tommy McCarthy in the No. 27 Classic BMW machine.
TC class leader Eric Powell (No. 92 Skip Barber Racing School Honda Civic Type-R) also put the hammer down at the start, and by Lap 2 had moved into third overall, putting a TCX-class machine between himself and class rival Kevin Boehm (No. 9 DXDT Honda Civic Type-R).
Ten minutes into the race, McCarthy spun out in Turn 6, allowing Ruud to extend his lead and Roy Block in the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering BMW M2 CS Cup to slip into second position in class. McCarthy would quickly recover, though, and got past Block three laps later.
As Powell and Boehm controlled the top two positions in TC, the battle for the final podium position raged as Victor Gonzalez (No. 8 VGMC Honda Civic Type-R), Toby Grahovec (No. 26 Classic BMW M240iR), and Rob Hines (No. 21 TechSport Racing Nissan 370z TC Spec) scrapped for third.
With 16 minutes left, Gonzalez and Grahovec came together at the Turn 9 chicane, sending Gonzalez into the wall and bringing out the only safety car period of the race.
This gave McCarthy new life as Ruud’s TCX class and overall lead was slashed as the field bunched together. The field would get back to green flag racing with just over five minutes remaining, making the restart critical.
Ruud kept the lead over McCarthy in TCX, but Boehm got the jump on Powell for the TC-class lead, with Grahovec slotting into third and Hines fourth in class.
On the white flag lap, however, Powell got outside Boehm in Turn 1, setting himself for the inside of Turn 2 and taking the lead in one sweeping pass. As Boehm hesitated, Grahovec pounced and took second position in TC – which is how they finished.
As Ruud and McCarthy finished 1-2 overall and in TCX, Powell came home an impressive third overall in TC, ahead of Grahovec and Boehm. Hines would finish sixther overall, fourth in class, with Tom Capizzi (No. 52 Auto Technic BMW M240iR) fifth.
The TCA battle saw pole-sitter Jesse Love (No. 22 TechSport Racing Toyota 86) claim a narrow victory over Mark Pombo (No. 61 MINI JCW Team Mini Cooper) by 0.1s. Caleb Bacon (No. 18 Forbush Performance Hyundai Veloster Turbo) took the final TCA podium position.
TC America presented by Skip Barber Racing School Race 2 gets underway on Sunday at 9:50 a.m. local time. Follow all of the action live and in real time at www.tcamerica.us/live.