Every lap mattered and every point counted in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s TA2 race, as the top four in the point standings battled it out at the Mission Foods VIR SpeedTour event at VIRginia International Raceway. 14-year-old Brent Crews earned his third win of the season, while points leader Rafa Matos demonstrated his persistence and consistency to remain at the top of the standings. Unfortunately, trouble for Thomas Merrill made his title chances an uphill battle.
Qualifying set the stage for an exciting start with Connor Mosack in the No. 28 Open Eyes/Nacarato Truck Centers/Nic Tailor Custom Fit Underwear Ford Mustang, who came into the weekend third in the standings, earning valuable championship points by scoring his fifth Motul Pole Award of 2022. With Merrill in the No. 26 BridgeHaul/HP Tuners/Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang starting second and Matos in the No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang starting third, all three championship contenders were at the front of the pack for the start of the race.
After the green flag waved, Merrill took the lead from Mosack in Turn 3, which he held until Mosack made an impressive pass on lap eight. The three points leaders, led by Mosack, continued to pace the field, until Matos was passed by the No. 70 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang of Crews on lap 13, dropping to fourth.
Six laps later, trouble erupted at the front of the field. As Ty Young in the No. 22 Ty J. Young, Inc. Wealth Management Ford Mustang was about to be overtaken by the leaders, Mosack made contact with Young’s rear bumper, turning him. Young’s car turned sharply, nosing directly into the side of second-place Merrill, causing major damage to the left side of the championship contender’s Mustang. The damage caused a flat tire for Merrill and brought out a full-course caution.
When green-flag racing resumed on lap 25, Mosack led Crews and Mike Skeen in the No. 00 MMR Racing Camaro, with Matos back in the fourth position. With just four laps remaining, Crews capitalized on an opportunity to pass Mosack, taking over the lead. It appeared that Matos would finish fourth behind Crews, Mosack and Skeen, but a rare mistake by Skeen allowed Matos to claim the last podium spot. Crews claimed his third victory when the checkered flag waved, with Mosack scored second and Matos in the third position. Following his on-track damage, Merrill was relegated to an 21st-place finish.
Following the event, Mosack was penalized for avoidable contact with the No. 22 of Young, dropping him to the 17th position and costing him valuable points. Matos was moved up to second, and Skeen rounded out the official podium.
“I just want to say hats off to this whole team for everything they’ve done for me, I couldn’t have done it without them,” said Crews in Victory Lane. “Growing up with them, it’s just amazing to come here at this huge level and win in front of all these guys. This is an amazing track and an amazing place to win. I want to thank Team Trackhouse, Cope Chassis, and everybody who put a hand on this car. I also want to thank Franklin Road Apparel for jumping on board for the rest of this season and next year.”
“It was a dogfight out there,” said Matos following the race. “You make a little mistake and lose two positions, and it’s really hard to recover. Hats off to my team this weekend. The amount of work they put into my 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang is just amazing. They work after hours, they do anything they need to do in order to keep giving me a good car. For the championship, you have to finish top five, you have to keep finishing, you need to have consistency. When you win or finish second, it’s just a big bonus for us. We have one more to go, so hopefully we’ll win our third championship at COTA.”
Following the event, Crews was awarded the ChillOut Keep Cool Move of the Race and was presented with the Omologato custom-branded Trans Am watch after earning the Young Gun Fast Lap Award. Maurice Hull in the No. 57 Silver Hare Racing Camaro, who lives just three miles down the road from the track, won the TA2 Masters award.
The broadcast of the race, presented by Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers, will air on CBS Sports Network on Wednesday, October 12 at 7:00 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation later that evening at 12:30 a.m. ET.
TA2 next heads to Circuit of The Americas where the champion will be crowned in the season finale November 4-6.