Chris Dyson Looks for Second Straight Trans Am Win on Challenging Homestead-Maimi "Roval"
April 12, 2018
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY (April 11, 2018) – Chris Dyson brings an interesting perspective to this weekend’s South Florida Sports Car Challenge at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, site of the third round of the 2018 Trans Am Championship. Dyson, who is coming off a win at Road Atlanta in the most recent round of the series, has raced twice and led laps on the track’s 2.27-mile “roval” road course, but his previous outings in 2002 and 2006 were in Prototype sports cars.
Those cars, which were 25% to 30% lighter and featured major aerodynamic downforce, represent a sharp contrast with the #20 Plaid Ford Mustang TA1 machine that Dyson is racing this weekend. The Mustang is a much different animal than the high-tech prototype sports cars in which Dyson twice won season-championships. The Trans Am Mustang will require a significant adjustment in driving approach to maximize the car’s performance both in the Saturday 20-minute qualifying session and then over the entire 100-mile length of Sunday’s race.
“The aero downforce gives the prototypes much more grip, so they are really planted in the corners and have much shorter braking distances,” Dyson said, noting that Trans Am rules require that that the same set of Pirelli tires be used in qualifying and the race. “The first prototype I raced here probably had five times as much downforce as the Trans Am car, which has 200+ more horsepower than the prototype did. With so much power and relatively little grip, the Mustang is both exhilarating and quite challenging to drive.
“It’s way too easy to slide the Mustang around and especially at an abrasive track like Homestead, over-driving-- even just a little bit-- will wear out the tires. Managing the tires is critically important in Trans Am racing. You want to start the race up front, but you have to post the fastest possible qualifying lap without really leaning too much on the tires. And then in the race you have to have a good pace from the start and still have enough left in the tires to be able to fight for the win at the end. It is a balancing act-- and a real test for any driver.”
Dyson also noted that the unique “roval” track configuration at Homestead-Miami represents an additional challenge for both driver and race engineer in setting up the car. “The car has to be fast on the oval's banking section, but the infield is very technical, and it’s critical to be quick there without leaning on the tires too much. Compared with a prototype car, maintaining the tires for corner-exit speed in a Trans Am car over a course of a race is much more difficult-- and important. The Trans Am cars are unbridled in that they don't have any driver aids like traction control or paddle-shifting; we as drivers in turn play a bigger part in execution and preserving the machinery and the tires. And with the heat we expect this time of year down in Homestead, it's going to be a real test of us physically as drivers to be consistent. I'm really looking forward to it."
The first two races of the season featured late-race duels between Dyson and Ernie Francis, Jr. with the four-time reigning Trans Am champion Francis winning at Sebring before Dyson scored his first series win at Road Atlanta in front a large contingent from marketing partner Plaid. “I expect Ernie will be a factor at every race,” Dyson said. “And there are a number of other fast drivers I expect to be tough competition at Homestead and all the races, including Lawrence Loshak and David Pintaric, among others. It should be another really good show.”
Headquartered in Atlanta, Plaid Enterprises, Inc. is one of the world's largest, most diverse manufacturers of creative do-it-yourself products. Plaid’s product innovation and dedication to the ever-changing needs of consumers have made the Plaid family of products among the most recognized and desired brands worldwide.
Founded in 1976, Plaid began as a publisher of how-to craft books. The company soon expanded into manufacturing, with paint becoming the primary focus. Today, Plaid is the industry's leading small batch paint manufacturer, proudly producing paint in its facilities located outside of Atlanta, GA.
Notable brands in Plaid's portfolio include FolkArt, Apple Barrel, Delta, Bucilla, Martha Stewart Crafts, and one of the industry's best known, Mod Podge, a favorite since 1967.