Diehl-Merrill Racing Leave Sebring with Heartache
March 6, 2020
DMR and Mike Cope Racing Prove Fastest Car Doesn’t Always Win the Race
The Diehl-Merrill Racing and Mike Cope Racing team combination opened eyes at the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli TA2(r) powered by AEM season opener at Sebring International Raceway. Dominating practice, qualifying P3, and leading the most laps, Thomas Merrill was the car to beat until a late spin with one lap remaining disrupted his chances for a trip to victory lane.
“The Diehl-Merrill Racing/ HP Tuners Mustang was clearly the class of the field this weekend,” explained driver, Thomas Merrill. “All through practice and qualifying the Mike Cope Racing crew worked hard to fine tune our car to make it better and better with every lap.”
The hard work paid off, until it didn’t. During the late race restart, Merrill seemed to have the start he needed to secure the victory; however, an issue with a bearing in the rear end put an end to his shot at victory.
“It’s been said many times that the fastest car doesn’t always win the race and we proved that this weekend, much to our dismay,” said Mike Cope, owner of Mike Cope Racing. “It appears on the final restart the 81 had a bearing in the rear end come apart. The bearing got caught between the ring and pinion, locking the rear wheels up.”
When Merrill turned around and rolled backwards, the bearing was able to dislodge itself which enabled the car to finish the race.
“It was very disheartening for the entire Diehl-Merrill/ Cope team. The effort and performance didn’t show the results. We have an outstanding group of people that work at perfecting these race cars. This will only make us more determined to go to Road Atlanta and pick up where we left off,” explained a hopefully, Cope. “Winning is our business and business in good.”
Merrill shared some of the same testaments following the season opener.
“The race was bittersweet for us. On the one hand, I’m gutted for Richard, our partners, and the [Mike Cope Racing] crew. They deserved that win,” said Merrill. “On the other hand, our pace has given me tons of confidence. We showed we were the car to beat, and I see no reason why that shouldn’t be the case at every race this season. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel in Atlanta.”
The team can take a breath and get the car back to winning standard before Round 2 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta at the end of the month.
Follow along with us on Instagram @DiehlMerrillRacing, Facebook @DiehlMerrillRacing and Twitter @DiehlMerrill as we prepare for redemption.