At just 14 years, three months, and four days old, Brent Crews became the youngest winner in the history of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli after dominating the TA2 event at Road America. Crews, who earned the title of youngest Motul Pole Award winner yesterday in qualifying, cruised to victory by leading flag to flag in round eight of the 2022 season.
When Crews took the green flag at the start of the race, he immediately checked out in his No. 70 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang, leading his first laps of Trans Am competition while Thomas Merrill in the No. 26 BridgeHaul/HP Tuners/Cope Race Cars Mustang made an impressive jump from fifth to second on the start. Despite two full-course cautions closing up the field twice in the first 10 laps, it was clear that Crews was the one to beat, repeatedly opening up multi-second leads. Merrill held the second position until the second restart of the day on lap 11, when Connor Mosack in the No. 28 Nic Tailor/IFS-SLR/M1 Race Cars Mustang made a move to challenge both Crews and Merrill. Although he didn’t have enough to pass Crews, Mosack easily took over the second position.
Crews, Mosack and Merrill continued to lead the field until lap 17, when 18-year-old Sammy Smith in the No. 18 SLR/M1 Race Cars Camaro had a strong run from the fourth position, taking Mosack and Merrill three-wide to take over second place. On lap 20, a third and final full-course yellow set up the field for a two-lap shootout to the finish. When the green flag waved, Smith briefly held his own side-by-side with Crews before having to settle back into second. Mosack and Merrill also battled it out, with Merrill claiming third and Mosack taking fourth. Mike Skeen in the No. 89 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang crossed the stripe fifth. When Crews took the checkered flag, he became the youngest winner in Trans Am Series history. In addition to his first Trans Am winner’s trophy, Crews was presented with the Omologato custom-branded Trans Am watch, earning the Young Gun Fast Lap Award.
“I just want to thank the Lord for everything He’s done for me; none of this would be possible without Him,” said Crews in Victory Lane. “On His Sunday, it feels great to get this victory. I want to thank my mom and my dad; they just do everything for me, they brought me from the bottom to where I am now. I also want to thank this whole Nitro Motorsports crew. They work so hard on this race car every single day; they just work their butts off, and it really paid off.”
Third-place finisher Thomas Merrill is now unofficially tied for the championship lead with Rafa Matos in the No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang, who ultimately finished eighth.
“I feel so invigorated now, it’s awesome to hear that we’re top of the championship standings,” said Merrill from the podium. “We had a rough start to the year, but this BridgeHaul/HP Tuners/Cope Race Cars Mustang has been on an upward trend all year long. Coming off of two straight wins, to be on the podium again shows that we’ve been really consistent in this middle part of the season, and that’s what we’re going to need to win this championship. I’ll tell you what, every podium I’m on, I’m feeling a little older with these kids next to me. I think both Crews and Smith are stars of the future. They put on a [heck] of a show, so full credit to them.”
Following the event, NASCAR team owner Justin Marks in the No. 99 SLR/M1 Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro was awarded the ChillOut Keep Cool Move of the Race for his impressive run from his 29th-place starting position to finish seventh in his first Trans Am race of 2022. Maurice Hull in the No. 57 Silver Hare Racing Camaro earned the TA2 Masters Award.
The broadcast of today’s race, presented by Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers, will air on CBS Sports Network on Sunday, July 10 at 2:30 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation later that evening at midnight ET.
TA2 returns to the track at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on August 5-6.
Full race results can be found here.