The TC America powered by Skip Barber Racing School field hit the pavement for the penultimate race of the season with no shortage of action and drama Friday afternoon. Newcomers, serious title fights, and brilliant race craft were on full display at the Brickyard. Get ready for a showdown in Race 2 on Sunday morning to bookend this wild season with two titles still up for grabs.
Early in the race, some drama at the front of the field left the door open for Colin Garrett in the No. 44 Rooster Hall Racing BMW, but had a negative outcome for Jacob Ruud in the No. 1 Fast Track Racing BMW — Ruud made impact with a competitor which left him with a damaged bumper and fluid leak. This required a long pit stop for emergency repairs, allowing Ruud to barely meet the 70% minimum drive time to earn points. His 30-point lead has now been reduced to just nine points over Garrett heading into the final race of the season on Sunday morning.
Further back, the TCX field spread out a bit and with the 2.5-mile course’s short length, traffic was a major factor. That didn’t deter any battles from going down, and despite several cars sporting scars from the early-race pandemonium, the rest of the field drove hard until the end. Polesitter-slash-newcomer Chris Walsh (No. 38 STR38 Motorsports BMW M2 CS (Cup)) was flying high at first, but after drama and an especially aggressive pace, dropped back to an 11th-place finish.
At the checkers it was Garrett, followed by Lucas Catania (No. 26 Rigid Speed BMW M2 CS (Cup) and Garrett Adams (No. 54 Fast Track Racing BMW M2 CS (Cup)) across the line.
“Rooster Hall Racing’s been bringing great cars every week, and I told myself after Road America — after how horribly that weekend went — that we were going to win the rest of them,” Garrett said. “If we can bring home the checkered on Sunday, that’s going to complete the season for me.”
Brett Scroggin (No. 51 Homewrecker Racing BMW M2 CS (Cup)) earned the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap as well after laying down a 1m36.102s.
The early race drama at the front in TCX was mostly extinguished by the time TC competitors came through, including polesitter-turned-Race-1-winner Kevin Boehm in the No. 9 CrowdStrike Racing by Skip Barber Racing Honda Civic Type-R. How perfect — the No. 9 earned its ninth win of the season, with Race 2 to follow Sunday morning.
The real battle in TC was between Jeff Ricca (No. 78 Genracer / Ricca Autosport Hyundai Veloster N DCT TC) and Mathew Ibrahim (No. 06 DRS & Garagistic BMW M240iR), which after qualifying 14th and 15th overall led to ninth and 10th across the finish line — second and third place in class. Though, Ibrahim didn’t get there easily — after Ricca got well ahead, a battle between Ibrahim and Celso Neto (No. 8 VGRT Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R) was on for third place, which wasn’t decided until the final minutes of the race. In the end, it was Boehm, Ricca, and Ibrahim across the line.
“I’ve been really fortunate to win every time that I’ve been here for the last three years,” Boehm said. “It’s incredible every single time … what a year, I have no words.”
With inside-rear wheels high in the air heading into Turn 1, the TCA field was incredibly entertaining to watch. Some drama further back in the field between one of the Hyundais and a Honda gave the race its one and only yellow flag, which lasted just long enough to bunch up the field yet not impede the action too hard. This made passing difficult early on.
Carter Fartuch led with a strong, torque-filled Honda Civic Si performance, especially after PJ Groenke (No. 62 Team JCW MINI) retired due to contact. After a yellow flag, traffic, and a wounded teammate, Gresham Wagner (No. 21 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ) eventually got up to Fartuch’s rear bumper, writing another chapter in the Wagner-Fartuch rivalry that’s lasted all season long. The amount of close-quarters battling that lasted for most of the race between the two, regardless of who was leading, was a testament to their combined skill.
Across the finish line was Wagner in first, Fartuch in second, and Cristian Perocarpi (No. 61 Team JCW MINI) in third.
“To be honest, the first challenge was just getting there,” Wagner said. “We were both pretty quick but I had to come from a bit back after the restart. He knows the situation as well as I do — he was defending, quite well I might add, so I knew I probably going to have to put it around on the outside.”
Going into the final Sunday morning race, Wagner now holds a provisional seven-point lead. If Wagner finishes ahead of Fartuch, no matter the position, he takes the title. Fartuch needs to score eight more points than Wagner to win the title — if he wins, he’ll need a third place finish or worse for Wagner.
Race 2 starts at 10am ET on Sunday. The weekend schedule, live timing and scoring, as well as session reports are available at TCAmerica.us.