The first race of the weekend in the TC America powered by Skip Barber championship took place on Saturday afternoon at Sebring. The gaps between drivers remained small throughout the entire race, and the TCA class provided yet another nail-biting, caution-free battle all the way down to the checkered flag.
It was a relatively calm start for the leaders in the TCX class. Colin Garrett (No. 44 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M2 CS (Cup)) had a clean, safe getaway and kept his composure in order to remain in front as the green flag waved to kick off the race. Championship leader Jacob Ruud (No. 1 Fast Track Racing BMW M2 CS (Cup)), who has struggled slightly at this track this weekend, made an early move on Garrett Adams (No. 54 Fast Track Racing BMW M2 CS (Cup)) to jump into third position.
Lucas Catania drove a quiet race in his No. 26 Rigid Speed BMW M2 CS (Cup), remaining in second as he balanced a gap from Garrett in front while maintaining a healthy gap to Ruud charging behind. This marks Catania’s fourth consecutive runner-up finish of the 2022 season.
Aside from the early overtake from Ruud, the frontrunners remained in position throughout the rest of the race. However, there was drama in the final laps as Garrett momentarily ran wide and left the track. His 8s lead was slightly reduced, but it ultimately would not be enough for the pack behind to capitalize on the mistake. Garrett showed a total display of dominance, crossing the finish line to win the first TC race of the weekend.
“These guys from Rooster Hall Racing didn’t have the greatest weekend at Road America, so to win this week at Sebring is really awesome,” exclaimed Garrett. “I have a lot of family and friends here, so it’s really cool to be able to share that with them. It feels good to be back in victory lane and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”
Class leader Kevin Boehm (No. 9 CrowdStrike Racing by Skip Barber Racing Honda Civic Type-R) put in a solid effort to build a gap to his competitors behind, but Clay Williams was on a mission in his No. 60 Team JCW MINI to close the gap. He gradually chipped away at Boehm lap after lap, forcing Boehm to use maximum concentration in an attempt to stay ahead. The two were neck and neck, but Boehm continued to perfectly position himself in order to prevent an overtake from his competitor.
Despite his best efforts, Williams was unable to maintain Boehm’s pace and eventually came under threat from Mathew Ibrahim. The No. 6 DRS & Garagistic BMW M240iR pulled off the pass on Williams and moved up into second position, while Boehm used the opportunity to establish a significant lead ahead of the rest of the pack.
Just when the podium looked to be decided, Williams made a last-minute pass on Ibrahim to switch back into second place. The two continued to battle back and forth until Ibrahim took back second place yet again, and this time making it stick, crossing the line in second as Williams had to settle for third place. This was a career best finish for Ibrahim and moves him into a provisional tie for third in points.
“When the race started the field was really tight and the other drivers kept me honest,” admitted Boehm. It’s undeniable that Boehm has been the one to beat this season as he rises to the top step yet again. “It’s so great to have Crowdstrike and AWS back on the podium for the seventh time this year; I can’t believe it!”
The TCA class delighted spectators with fierce on-track battles between the frontrunners. Carter Fartuch took an early lead in the No. 16 Skip Barber Racing School Honda Civic Si, but Branyon Tiner (No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport W/ Curb-Agajanian), Cristian Perocarpi (No. 61 Team JCW MINI), and Devin Anderson (No. 22 Techsport Subaru BRZ) remained hot on his heels throughout every corner.
It didn’t take long before the group got their elbows out to move up the grid. The trio exchanged positions numerous times, with Tiner eventually slotting himself into the lead for a few laps. But despite an engine penalty forcing him to start from the back of the grid, Gresham Wagner proved that you can never count him out in the No. 21 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ. He made an exceptional comeback and worked quickly, moving up the grid and pulling off consistent overtakes before slotting into first before even reaching the halfway mark of the race.
Wagner took his fifth win of the 2022 season, followed by Tiner in second, and Anderson claiming the final spot on the podium in third. The win closed the provisional points gap between Fartuch and Wagner from 28 to just 13. With three races remaining, the championship is still too close to call.
“I’ve started further back than 13th before, so I knew it was just a matter of getting through the first couple of laps,” explained Wagner. “It was hard, but I knew I could do it!”
Race two starts at 10:05 AM ET on Sunday.