Nearly 60 fire-breathing American muscle Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli cars will return to the home of the Corkscrew this weekend (April 30-May 2) for the Trans Am SpeedFest at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The Trans Am National Series, West Coast Championship and the Trans Am ProAm Challenge will all be in action this weekend on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course on California’s central coast for two 100-mile races, with the first race on Saturday (TA2 at 1:10pm PT) and the weekend finale on Sunday (TA/XGT/SGT/GT 1:30pm PT). (Video: Trans Am at Laguna)
A stacked field of 38 TA2 National and West Coast competitors will take the green on Saturday. With three championships being played out within one 100-mile sprint, fans are sure to be in for an action-packed race. (Watch the race live here)
Class points leader Thomas Merrill won his first TA2 race at Laguna in 2019 as a West Coast competitor, driving from the back of the field to a first-place finish. The victory jump-started his full time National tour, and this season, Merrill is poised for the championship after opening the season with a victory and podium finish in the first two rounds. Now, the Salinas native returns to his home track in the No. 81 HPTuners/MikeCopeRaceCars Ford Mustang to defend his inaugural victory from 37 other hungry TA2 drivers.
“It ought to be really good, because I think TA2 is as competitive as it’s ever been,” Merrill said. “It was really competitive when we raced here in 2019, and I think this year will be even tougher. We’re riding a high this season with our early results, but I’m pretty relaxed coming back for this race.”
Road Atlanta winner Franklin Futrelle will not make the journey west, leaving the points chase open to Rafa Matos (third in points) in the No. 88 3 Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang and reigning champion Mike Skeen (fourth in points) in the No. 1 Liqui-Moly/Turn14Distribution Chevrolet Camaro.
After finishing fifth at Road Atlanta following power steering problems, Skeen knows winning against Merrill at Laguna will be a tough task but he’s up for the challenge.
“Laguna Seca has been a good track to me in the past in other series, I’ve won there in World Challenge, and had good races there in IMSA,” said Skeen. “I know the track well and I am happy there. Obviously, it’s Merrill’s home track, so I expect him to be good, but he will be good anywhere. The field is extremely deep this season so anyone can win. I think we will be strong out there, it’s a different kind of track, shorter, low grip, so we have our homework to do.”
Carl Rydquist finished first in the West Coast Championship at Sonoma in the No. 47 Racecars4Rent/GroupWholesale Ford Mustang. Entering the weekend as the points leader under Nelson Motorsports, Rydquist is eager to go up against the National drivers in his first combined series race as a TA2 driver.
“Sonoma was an action-packed race, I learned a lot about racing a TA2 car there,” said Rydquist. “I am really impressed with Nelson Motorsports. They have worked really diligently in the shop and every minute at Sonoma and have definitely earned this result. We are ready for next weekend at Laguna.”
The NASCAR youth movement in the TA2 class will be present again at Laguna with Sam Mayer and Connor Mosak representing Scott Lagasse Jr.’s TeamSLR. Laguna will mark Mayer’s fourth race with TA2 this season with a near perfect record, earning two victories in the ProAm Challenge and a second-overall finish at Road Atlanta after a pole-position start.
Going up against dozens of champions and drivers with decades of experience on a new track doesn’t rattle the 17-year-old.
“I go to these races to win,” said Mayer. “No matter if it’s a new track or one I’ve been to three times before, I go to win. Anything less, we go back to work to get me and the cars better so we can do just that.
“The Trans Am cars are lighter than what I’m used to running in NASCAR,” continued Mayer. “However, these TA2 cars help a ton with tracks and seat time on road courses. It’s really fun, too. Going to places that have special corners, like the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca, is super cool. I watch a lot of YouTube compilations on racing and a lot of times I see these special corners. Now getting to race on them is super inspiring and cool.”
The Trans Am SpeedFest weekend will kick off on Friday with practice and qualifying for TA2. On Saturday, the TA/XGT/SGT/GT classes will host a combined practice and qualifying with the TA2 100-mile race slated for 1:10 p.m. Pacific. The weekend will conclude on Sunday with another 100-mile race this time from the TA/XGT/SGT/GT classes at 1:30 p.m. Pacific. (click here for full schedule)
The Trans Am SpeedFest is not open to fans but will be live streamed exclusively on the Trans Am by Pirelli Racing App. Download and subscribe here: https://nagrasports.app.link/lIQjdAuxq7
National Points Standings
West Coast and ProAm Points Standings