Chris Dyson Clinches 2022 Trans Am Championship with Second-Place Finish at Rainy Watkins Glen
September 12, 2022
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY (Sept 12, 2022) – On a circuit awash with heavy rain and marginal visibility, a runner-up finish in his #20 GYM WEED/ALTWELL Ford Mustang at Watkins Glen International yesterday gave Chris Dyson, the winner of five races earlier in the season, an insurmountable point margin over his closest rivals and clinched his second consecutive Trans Am by Pirelli championship.
“I love this track and I wanted to win here, but I also wanted to be sure I at least had a podium,” Dyson said after the race. Dyson came to the Glen with a 65-point lead over Ken Thwaits and a 66-point margin over Tomy Drissi. “Tomy and Ken are both strong drivers with excellent equipment. A win or a podium would likely clinch the championship. But a bad finish for me would potentially open the door to one or both of them. So, a fine balance between aggression and discretion was the order of the day.”
Dyson had calculated the multiple race-finish point permutations for himself and his rivals. “I knew I had to be prepared to adjust my race strategy depending on how the race unfolded,” Dyson explained. “And with the rain it just all got more complicated.”
Dyson started the race on the outside of the front row, next to Thwaits' teammate, pole-winner Justin Marks. Thwaits qualified third, while Drissi was eighth. “Justin is an excellent driver, and even though this was his first TA-class start this year, I knew he would be really fast in the race. Points-wise, I had to be less concerned about him than Ken. And I knew Tomy would be charging all the way. He always does.”
As it turned out, in the slippery conditions Thwaits was collected in an incident with a backmarker early as Marks and Dyson contested the race lead. “Justin had strong pace and nothing to lose,” Dyson said. “Meanwhile Tomy was coming up through the field – I had to stay ahead of him.” Dyson set the race's fastest lap on Lap 8, just before the race's 2nd full-course yellow flag.
Adding to Dyson’s on-track challenges, during a late-race caution, with Drissi closing in, the inside of the #20 Mustang’s windshield completely misted over. On the final restart Dyson was essentially flying blind. “For the most of the last few laps, it was wild. I was looking out the side window and using lateral references to judge braking and turn-in points,” Dyson recalled. His hundreds of laps at The Glen over more than two decades gave Dyson an almost instinctual sense of his precise location on the wet pavement. “I was completely driving on instinct going through the (notoriously high-speed) Esses. Somehow, I just knew where to turn. The car stepped out there and I caught it twice in the closing stages and just kept my foot in it. Eventually a little hole cleared on the inside of the windshield, just barely enough that I could see where I was going. But it was gnarly. My adrenaline was off the charts afterwards!”
At the checker Dyson was second, behind Marks, while Drissi (who also had visibility issues) was third. “Tomy drove a terrific race, but we pulled it off and clinched today,” Dyson said. “I am so honored to add another title in Trans Am – it is hard to put into words, to be honest. And my Dad being here today was wonderful. We have had a lot of special days together here and with the team over the years. This weekend was one I will never forget. And now, with the championship decided we can maybe try some new things in the final two races that will put the team in a good place for the start of next season. It is all very exciting.”
Paul Fix, substituting for Humaid Masaood in Chris Dyson Racing’s #21 allgram / StopFlex Ford Mustang, finished a strong fifth after qualifying seventh. “Watkins Glen is my home track and I’ve raced a lot here,” said Fix, who is a Western New York native and past series multiple race winner. “You always have to be ready for rain here. The car and team were terrific all weekend.”
The broadcast of today’s race, presented by Franklin Road Apparel, will air on CBS Sports Network on Sunday, September 18 at 5:30 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation later that evening at 11:30 p.m. ET.
The penultimate round of the 2022 Trans Am by Pirelli Series is scheduled for October 6-9 at Virginia International Raceway.
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