Preview: Trans Am at Watkins Glen

Preview: Trans Am at Watkins Glen

Trans Am

Preview: Trans Am at Watkins Glen

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The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will hold Round 10 of the 2022 season when teams return to action in the Franklin Road Apparel Classic at Watkins Glen International (WGI). The TA/XGT/SGT/GT teams will hit the track for the first time in two months, boasting a season-high field of 24 entrants between TA and the production classes, and the second-highest number of TA class entries this year (11). Coming off of a five-week hiatus, TA2 also has an impressive list of 43 cars, for a total of 67 entries for this weekend’s two events.

I Love (Winning In) New York
A number of competitors who have previously stood atop the podium at Watkins Glen return in the hopes of bringing home another trophy from the Finger Lakes region. In 2021, Chris Dyson dominated the weekend, winning both of the doubleheader races in the TA class. Rafa Matos in the No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang has three victories at Watkins Glen. He won the first of two events in the TA2 class last year, in addition to back-to-back wins in 2018 and 2019. Connor Mosack earned the first win of his career last year, taking the TA2 victory in the second event. Aaron Pierce in the No. 26 LSI Inc./Sam Pierce Chevrolet Corvette won the SGT race in 2019. Tomy Drissi in the No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford Mustang won the TA event back in 2018. Amy Ruman in the No. 23 McNichols Co. Corvette earned the TA victory in 2016, while Dillon Machavern in the No. 17 SLR/M1 Racecars Camaro won in TA2 that year. Cameron Lawrence in the No. 6 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro won in TA2 in 2013, and Doug Peterson in the No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang took the checkered flag in TA the same year.

New York State drivers at The Glen
Four drivers in this weekend’s event at The Glen call the state of New York home. In the TA class, Paul Fix, who is from Williamsville, considers WGI to be his home track, and 2021 TA champion Chris Dyson in the No. 20 GYM WEED/ALTWELL Ford Mustang hails from Poughkeepsie. In TA2, Adrian Wlostowski in the No. 3 Hawk Performance/AMT Motorsport Ford Mustang calls Maspeth home, and Doug Winston in the No. 98 Bring Back The Trades/Timberland Pro Ford Mustang is from North White Plains.

2023 schedule announced
The Trans Am Series recently announced its 2023 schedule for both the Trans Am National Championship and Trans Am Western Championship. Next year’s schedule will include the addition of World Wide Technology Raceway, the Detroit Grand Prix, NOLA Motorsports Park and Indianapolis Motor Speedway for National competitors, as well as the Golden Gate Cup for Western competitors. Details can be found here.

CBS Sports Network air times
This weekend’s races from Watkins Glen will air on CBS Sports Network the week following the event.

TA/XGT/SGT/GT will premiere on Sunday, September 18 at 5:30 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation later that evening at 11:30 p.m. ET.

TA2 will first air on Wednesday, September 14 at 7:00 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation later that evening at 12:30 a.m. ET.

Chris Dyson could clinch championship at The Glen
This weekend at Watkins Glen, Chris Dyson could clinch his second-consecutive TA championship. Dyson, who clinched his first title last year at Virginia International Raceway in the penultimate event of the season, could wrap up the 2022 title one race sooner if he maximizes his points opportunities to earn 35 points in Sunday’s event. The odds seem in Dyson’s favor to succeed this weekend, as he won both all-class events in last year’s doubleheader at WGI and finished second at the track in 2019. Dyson also became the youngest-ever winner of the Six Hours of the Glen in 2002, co-driving with James Weaver.

Dyson has led the 2022 standings since the season-opener at Sebring International Raceway, and has been first in points for 16-straight races, beginning at last year’s event at Lime Rock Park, where he took the lead from Ernie Francis Jr.

Other CD Racing news:
Filling in for Humaid Masaood in the No. 21 allgram/StopFlex.com/Classic Tube Ford Mustang this weekend is Western New York native Paul Fix. Fix has 20 years of experience in Trans Am and has run one previous race this season, winning the Trans Am Heritage class at Lime Rock Park. Fix finished second at Watkins Glen in 2013 and third in 2017, but a win at his home track has eluded him.

Other news for the CD Racing team is the recent announcement that team sponsors GYM WEED and ALTWELL have partnered with SpeedTour, with GYM Weed becoming the “Official Energy Drink of Trans Am and SVRA” and ALTWELL named the “Official Health and Wellness Company of Trans Am and SVRA.” The partnership kicks off this weekend at Watkins Glen with a branding presence and product sampling in the fan midway. The two companies also sponsor Greg Pickett in Trans Am Western Championship competition, as well as TA competitor Tomy Drissi and his team owner Paul Gentilozzi.

Lux Performance looks for redemption at The Glen
Cindi Lux, driver of the No. 45 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper and Dirk Leuenberger, driver of the No. 35 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper are making the 2,800-mile tow to Watkins Glen International, a track that Lux has considered the team’s kryptonite. While both SGT cars have performed well at the track in the past, neither has been able to post a finish equal to that performance due to a variety of different issues, including a 2019 crash that Leuenberger considers the worst in his career. However, the two drivers enter this weekend’s event with excitement and commitment to turn that luck around as the team comes off a 1-2 finish in the class’s most recent race at Road America. Following her win, Lux is currently scored second in the SGT standings, and after his runner-up finish, Leuenberger is fourth in points.

TA/XGT/SGT/GT news and  notes
Boris Said is slated to make his third start of 2022 behind the wheel of the No. 2 Weaver Racing/STEEL-IT Dodge Challenger. Said ran second to Dyson in the second race of last year’s doubleheader at The Glen. Although he’s never driven a Trans Am car to victory at the New York circuit, there might not be anyone with more experience at the track. In addition to several Trans Am races, Said has 28 starts between NASCAR’s top-three series. His team, Weaver Racing, also comes to Watkins Glen with momentum, as Kaz Grala drove the No. 2 to victory in the TA class’s last outing at Road America.

Justin Marks is making his second (and third) Trans Am starts of 2022 and his first in the TA class, getting behind the wheel of the No. 5 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro for Showtime Motorsports. Running double duty, he will start off the weekend running TA2 in the No. 99 SLR/M1 Racecars Camaro for Team SLR. The NASCAR team owner competed in the TA2 class at Road America, finishing seventh.

Three production class drivers are making their Trans Am debuts this weekend at Watkins Glen. Jody Miller in the No. 3 TLM Racing Porsche GT3 Cup 991.2 and Stephen Hamman in the No. 72 TLM Racing Porsche GT3 Cup 991.2 will run in the XGT class, and Scott James in the No. 61 Chicane Racing/Vascular Care Group Porsche GT3 Cup will race in GT.

This weekend will also mark the first race of the season where Porsche is represented in all three production classes. In addition to James, Miller and Hamman in XGT and GT, Carey Grant (No. 6 Grant Racing 2 Porsche GT3 Cup) and his father Milton Grant (No. 55 Sentry Self Storage/Springhill Suites Porsche 991.1) will represent the make in SGT.

Second-place points battle remains a tight three-way challenge
While Chris Dyson continues to dominate the TA standings, leading the field with a 65-point advantage over second place, three drivers remain locked in the hunt for the runner-up spot. Ken Thwaits in the No. 7 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro currently holds the second position with 176 points, but right on his tail is Tomy Drissi, just one point back. Amy Ruman is currently scored fourth, just five points behind Drissi. With 75 points separating Ruman and fifth-place David Pintaric in the No. 57 Kryderacing Mustang, the battle for second through fourth remains the hottest of the season. What makes the battle more interesting is that Ruman and Drissi both have previous wins at Watkins Glen, so both have the potential to pounce on Thwaits’ runner-up status with a solid finish this weekend.

With two wins in XGT, Randy Hale in the No. 31 Hale Propeller Corvette solidly holds the first position by 31 points over Danny Lowry in the No. 42 BridgeHaul/Bennett International/PitBoxes.com Audi R8 LMS.

With 101 points, Milton Grant sits atop the SGT standings with a solid 32-point buffer against challengers, but only five points separate Cindi Lux (69 points), his son Carey Grant (67 points), and Dirk Leuenberger (64 points), creating another three-way fight for second.

Billy Griffin is in a field by himself in the GT class, leading the points in his No. 14 Griffin Auto Care/Sheehan Towing Ford Mustang by 49 points. He has previously won this season at Sebring, Road Atlanta and Lime Rock Park.

Full point standings can be found here.

Cope Race Cars chasing five-in-a-row at WGI
Cope Race Cars, whose chassis will compose 35% of the TA2 field this weekend at Watkins Glen, has had quite the streak in 2022, with at least one car on the podium in eight of the last nine races. The manufacturer, who has produced one of the official chassis of the TA2 class since 2012, has also had a car in Victory Circle in the last four races, and is aiming for a fifth win this weekend. Thomas Merrill in the No. 26 BridgeHaul/HP Tuners/Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang and Brent Crews in the No. 70 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang have each earned back-to-back wins in the last four races, with Merrill taking the top spot at Lime Rock Park and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and Crews earning his first-career win at Road America, followed by a victory at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. Cope Race Cars is hoping to continue its streak with a fifth win, and with drivers such as former TA2 champion Cameron Lawrence and series veteran Tom Sheehan piloting a Cope Chassis this weekend, the team has good odds to see one of its in-house cars or independent teams take the checkered flag this weekend.

Mosack hoping for deja vu at Watkins Glen
Connor Mosack in the No. 28 Nic Tailor/IFS-SLR/M1 Racecars Camaro is hoping for a repeat performance when the checkered flag waves at Watkins Glen this weekend. Mosack dominated the TA2 class in the second race of last year’s doubleheader weekend, earning his first-career Trans Am victory. Mosack appears to be right on the cusp of his first victory of 2022 with two second-place finishes, including one at the series’ last stop in Nashville. Mosack is leaving nothing to chance and warmed up for this weekend’s race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event at The Glen in August, finishing 15th.

Matos leads TA2 standings, championship battle continues to wage on
The tie between Rafa Matos and Thomas Merrill for the points lead has been broken after Merrill experienced early damage in the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix and finished 25th. Matos, a two-time champion in TA2, now holds a 17-point advantage over Merrill heading into this weekend’s event. Connor Mosack is just eight points behind Merrill in third. With two-consecutive wins under his belt, Brent Crews sits just seven points behind Mosack in the fourth position. Tyler Kicera in the No. 77 LIQUI MOLY/Turn 14 Distribution Chevrolet Camaro sits 50 points behind in fifth, and his strong past performances at Watkins Glen show that he is by no means out of contention.

TA2 news and notes
21-year-old Austin Green has been added to the Showtime Motorsports roster this weekend, driving the No. 4 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro. The son of 1994 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion David Green is making only his third Trans Am start and qualified second in his last outing at Road America.

Jim Guthrie in the No. 23 Cobra Automotive Ford Mustang is making his first Trans Am Series start since racing in Phoenix in 1995. Guthrie was the 1997 IndyCar Rookie of the Year and won in the series at Phoenix Raceway driving for his own team that same year. He also made three starts in the Indianapolis 500, with a best finish of 18th.

Jesse Love is making his Trans Am Series debut this weekend driving the No. 80 for Nitro Motorsports. The 17-year-old has raced since the age of five in quarter midgets. Nicknamed “The Hammer,” Love became the youngest driver to win the ARCA Menards Series West championship in 2020 and followed that up with another championship in 2021.

Rookie standings and Young Gun update
The Wilwood TA2 Rookie Standings and Peter Gregg Foundation Young Gun Standings continue to be a tight battle between Trans Am’s youngest and most promising talent, and Watkins Glen will have a whopping 16 TA2 rookies composing 37% of Saturday’s field. In the Rookie Standings, Brent Crews currently holds a 29-point lead over second-place Evan Slater in the No. 25 Cube3 Architecture Chevrolet Camaro. Dylan Archer is third in the No. 0 MMR/FPEC Racing Group Ford Mustang, 50 points out of second place.

Connor Mosack continues to lead the Young Gun standings by seven points over Brent Crews. Evan Slater sits 29 points behind Crews in third. The top driver at the conclusion of the season who is younger than 25 will be awarded $20,000 at the year-end banquet. 10 Young Guns are entered into this weekend’s event.

Full championship, rookie and Young Gun standings can be found here.

TA/XGT/SGT/GT
Qualifying: Saturday, September 10
TA: 5:50-6:10 p.m. ET
XGT/SGT/GT: 6:15-6:30 p.m. ET
Race: Sunday, September 11
11:09 a.m.-12:14 p.m.
Race Length: 30 Laps/70 Minutes
TA2
Qualifying: Friday, September 9
Group 1: 5:25-5:40 p.m. ET
Group 2: 5:45-6:00 p.m. ET
Race: Saturday, September 10
11:14 a.m.-12:19 p.m.
Race Length: 30 Laps/70 Minutes

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