Trans Am at Mid-Ohio: Matos Takes Second Trans Am Pole of 2019 in Wild Qualifying
August 9, 2019
Matos Takes Second Trans Am Pole of 2019 in Wild Qualifying at Mid-Ohio
Points leader Marc Miller starts alongside Matos in FirstEnergy Muscle Car Challenge
LEXINGTON, Ohio (9 August 2019) – A hallmark of the TA2 powered by AEM class in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli has always been close, hard, exciting action. Friday’s qualifying session for the FirstEnergy Muscle Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was no exception, with the top spots changing on every lap late in the session.
When the dust settled, Rafa Matos had placed his No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro on the pole position of the 30-car TA2 field for the second time this season, with a lap of 1:24.938-seconds. But Matos will have no relief at the start of the 45-lap, 100-mile race on Saturday, as championship-leader Marc Miller and his No. 40 Prefix/Stevens-Miller Racing Dodge Challenger will start alongside, a mere .074 seconds back.
NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Ty Gibbs (No. 26 Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang) held the top spot for one lap midway through the session, as did Detroit race winner Misha Goikhberg (No. 10 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro) and two-time winner Thomas Merrill (No. 81 Big Diehl Racing Ford Mustang, winner this season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Lime Rock).
The 20-minute session was abbreviated due to an incident for No. 29 Mitch Marvosh, who found the wall in Turn 5 just as the field completed two qualifying laps. By the time the green flag flew again, only 10 minutes remained – albeit 10 minutes of wild, nonstop action at the top of the speed charts.
Scott Lagasse Jr. (No. 92 SLR/Fields Racing/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro) will start third, with Goikhberg fourth, Merrill fifth and NASCAR Xfinity regulars Justin Haley and Gibbs sixth and seventh.
Matos captured the race win at Mid-Ohio last year, but lies 57 points behind Miller third in the championship chase. The defending TA2 champion took pole after working hard to get in a clean lap.
“There are 30 plus cars here so to get a clean lap is a big struggle,” said Matos. “We focused on getting a clean lap, but the red flag messed up our plans. But we were able to get into a groove and find that clean lap and get the pole position. Hopefully it will be like last year and we can win the race! The 3-Dimensional Services crew has worked so hard on the car to ensure that it’s reliable and working well. But we’re playing catch-up a bit here, we’ve got some points to recover to Marc, he’s our benchmark. We’ll keep plugging away.”
Miller was at once happy with his starting position, but also frustrated with the incident-shortened session.
“That was a typical TA2 qualifying session!” said Miller. “We were hoping for a longer run but didn’t get it, with the early red flag. When it came down to one of those “throw down” type things, we just weren’t prepared to get a time in that early. We needed every one of those laps, though I thought we had it on that last lap. I went into the Carousel and over-slowed myself, being too careful, but in the end, I’m happy with a front row starting spot. This team has worked so hard, the Prefix Dodge is better than we expected around this tight, twisty circuit so I think we raised some eyebrows today. We just need to have a good, clean race and where we end up is where we end up. We have the big picture in mind.”
The FirstEnergy Muscle Car Challenge for the TA2 powered by AEM class – part of the NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Mid-Ohio – takes the green flag Saturday at 12:40 p.m. Eastern. For live timing and scoring, event photos and post-race recap videos visit GoTransAm.com. For live race updates follow @GoTransAm on Twitter.