Chris Dyson returned to Sebring International Raceway hoping to capture back-to-back victories in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli season opener. Dyson did so in style, running an immaculate race in his No. 20 Gym Weed/Altwell Ford Mustang, leading from flag to flag in a dominant victory.
Dyson laid his path to victory before the race began, capturing the Motul Pole Award in Friday night’s qualifying session with a record-breaking lap time of 1m57.838s.
Prior to the green flag, Paul Menard’s No.5 Franklin Road Apparel Chevrolet Camaro lost fuel pressure on the out lap, dropping him from his third-place starting berth. Following a quick trip to pit lane, Menard was able to return to the racetrack and put down the fastest lap of the race, but was unable to recover his lost laps, and ultimately retired early due to a broken rear end.
When the green flag waved, Menard’s team owner and teammate Ken Thwaits’ No. 7 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro challenged Dyson for the lead, but the No. 20 edged him out, rocketing in front of the pack, where he stayed until the checkered flag.
“It was fantastic coming out here two years in a row and taking the opening race win,” said Dyson. “In the beginning, I just tried to hit my marks, and we just started to gap the field.
“I couldn’t be happier for everyone on the team; I’ve got to thank everyone at CD Racing. I’m so grateful to have Altwell and Gym Weed on the car this weekend. Putting them in victory lane is a great way to start the year.”
Early in the event, Wally Dallenbach and Boris Said battled in second and third, but a mid-race issue took Said’s No. 2 Weaver Racing Technique Dodge Challenger out of contention. Thwaits took over the third spot, ultimately finishing behind Dallenbach’s No. 4 Ultimate Headers Ford Mustang.
“What a blast, today brought back so many memories,” said second-place finisher Dallenbach. “I had so much fun racing with these guys at the start of the race.
“These cars are my favorite race cars to drive out of everything I’ve ever driven. I’ve been excited since I first talked about coming back to do some Trans Am racing. The guys did a great job with the car. It was a blast, I’m just so glad to be back racing in this series.”
In the SGT class, Luca Mars, driver of the No. 50 Race for RP Mustang, battled with the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper, with Mars winning the class by finishing seventh overall. Saunders was second in the class, finishing ninth, and Danny Lowry’s No. 42 Bridghaul Porsche GT3 Cup earned a podium with an 11th-place finish.
“I started off in the back and just got by as many people as I could in the beginning,” said SGT class winner, Mars. “I tried to run fast, consistent laps. The car was on rails; the guys did a great job setting it up today.
“I’m really glad I was able to win. It was a last-second decision to come to this race, and I’m so glad we did.”
In GT, Billy Griffin in the No. 14 Griffin Auto Care/Sheehans Towing Ford Mustang raced to the top of the class with a 10th-place finish overall, with the No. 52 of Bob Michaelian taking second in the class with a 13th-place result.
“I had a really good race and a great weekend here at Sebring,” said Griffin. “I love coming to Trans Am; this is my home.”
Second place Michaelian had nothing but good things to say about this season’s new 18-inch Pirelli P Zero tires.
“This is such a historic track and it was great to be out there,” said Michaelian. “It was a little hot out there, so the tires got a little bit greasy towards the end, but the Pirelli P Zeros stuck the entire way.
“It was a full stint on those things, and they held the whole time. I appreciate all the effort Trans Am puts into these events, it’s a first-class kind of event.”
Ken Thwaits earned the TA class Masters Award, while Milton Grant took the Masters Award in the SGT class. The Chillout Systems Chill Out Award went to race winner Dyson.
This weekend’s race from Sebring will air on CBS Sports Network on Sunday, March 6 at 10:30 a.m. ET.
For full race results, click here.