2024 Has Begun: Sebring Test Recap

January 31, 2024

2024 Has Begun: Sebring Test Recap

Last week, the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli had its annual pre-season test at Sebring International Raceway, officially kicking of on-track action for the 2024 season. More than two dozen drivers between 12 teams made laps around one of the most challenging circuits on the Trans Am schedule, hoping to find a little extra speed before the season opener next month.

Many drivers hit the track with new teams, new cars, new paint schemes and new outlooks on the upcoming season, while others returned hoping that the same recipe would allow them to repeat past successes.

TA/XGT/SGT/GT

Chris Dyson comes into 2024 looking to win his fourth-consecutive championship, a feat that has only been accomplished once in Trans Am history by Ernie Francis Jr. Dyson has been the defending TA class champion since 2021.

"We had two super productive days at Sebring,” said Dyson. “We had made quite a few changes to the No. 16 GYM WEED car during the short off-season that we were really eager to test and assess. The car performed without any faults, so we were able to go deep into the list of changes we wanted to make to the car. Last year, we were really under the gun with reliability issues and didn't get the chance to test and tune much before or during the season. We made the most of this track time at Sebring to kick off this year, and the team and I are upbeat heading into the new season.”

2009 TA champion Tomy Drissi hit the track at Sebring for the first time as a team owner, marking the first outing for the newly-formed Drissi Motorsports. Drissi purchased the assets to start the team from Showtime Motorsports. Former Showtime owner Ken Thwaits joins Drissi’s new venture as team principal to manage operations. Also testing alongside Drissi was Don Yount.

"It was great being at Sebring and getting ready for the championship run,” said Drissi. “I got to knock the rust off, spend time with the team and work with Ken Thwaits. When I showed up, it was like, ‘Okay, this is really happening. All the stuff is here, and everyone is ready.’ I focused a little bit on the ownership stuff, but when I get to the track, I’m a driver, which is really important. We tested Don Yount; he had never been in a car like this, and he did a really good job despite it being one of the most difficult tracks. When he got out of the car, he looked at it as if it was some sort of fire-breathing dragon and said, ‘What is this monster?’

“With the No. 7 car, we were just a little bit off of Chris Dyson. Dyson’s crew and my crew kept looking down the wall at each other and looking at each other’s times. The Drissi/Dyson rivalry started at that test. But at the same time, there was something that we needed on the No. 8 car, and the guys went over to Dyson’s crew and they gave us what we needed, which was really cool. As far as performance is concerned, we were all smiles after the second day of testing. It was great working with team principal Ken Thwaits and the whole Drissi Motorsports team. I’m looking forward to having Keith Grant, myself and a possible third driver at Sebring.”

Kaylee Bryson, who dipped her toes in the Trans Am waters last season returns for a full-time effort in the SGT class driving for LSI Racing. Bryson will simultaneously compete full time for the USAC Silver Crown championship after winning Rookie of the Year in the series in 2023.

"I’m really excited for the upcoming Trans Am season in the LSI Logical Systems SGT Corvette,” said Bryson. “Road course racing is a new adventure for me, since I grew up racing at dirt oval tracks and recently transitioned to pavement ovals, followed by Trans Am. I have gotten a lot of laps testing the cars, and I have a great team behind me, supporting and teaching me every step of the way. I have a lot to learn, but I’m excited for the challenge and looking forward to going racing!"

CUBE 3 Architecture TA2 Series

2018 and 2021 CUBE 3 Architecture TA2 Series champion Rafa Matos made his debut with his new team, Nitro Motorsports, driving the championship-winning No. 70 Ford Mustang alongside 2023 champion Brent Crews.

“I had an awesome time with Nitro Motorsports testing the No. 70 championship-winning car,” said Matos. “It was cool to be able to share the car with Brent [Crews] for a couple days and go through the testing plan that the team had in mind. We feel we have a really strong baseline with all six cars on the team, and I can’t wait to drive the brand-new No. 60 Cope car the team is building. Big thanks to PME engines and Concord American Flag Pole for believing in this project.”

Darin Mock returns to Nitro Motorsports for his second full-time season.

“I'm excited to get the season going at Sebring,” said Mock. “I'm looking forward to working with Nitro Motorsports again, and the addition of Rafa is only a positive for the team. The TA2 field is just as stacked as ever, so it will be a lot of work, but I'm ready for the challenge.”

Also testing with Nitro Motorsports was Ben Maier, who joins the team after running one race with them at Circuit of The Americas.

“I am always looking to get more track time,” said Maier. “I love being out there and I love that the Trans Am Series and Nitro Motorsports make this test event happen so I can get on track at the beginning of the season and work out any kinks with my crew. Which we did! I can't wait to hit the ground running at the season opener in Sebring next month.”

Another Nitro Motorsports test entry was Cale Phillips, who piloted the team’s No. 99 Ford Mustang at the test. Phillips ran four races with the team in 2023.

“It was great to get back in the car for some testing and shake off the off-season rust,” said Phillips. “It is always nice to get some seat time at the track we start the season off with next month. We made some nice gains on the No. 99 car over the two days. We have a lot of new parts and pieces on the car, so it was nice to make sure everything was good and get confident with the setup. I’m looking forward to coming back in a month to kick off the 2024 season!”

2023 TA2 Rookie of the Year Austin Green returned to Sebring with his Peterson Racing team. Green will be running partial schedules in both the CUBE 3 Architecture TA2 Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series under the Peterson banner.

“Preseason testing at Sebring was a success,” said Green. “Everyone at Peterson Racing gave me their best and we made huge gains over the two days. I’m super excited to come back with our 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang in a couple weeks and fight for a win! I’m excited to step up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series for a part-time schedule with Peterson Racing, as well as a part time schedule in Trans Am for 2024. I’ve got a great group behind me and I’m ready to kick off the year strong.”

Trans Am veteran and TV commentator Adam Andretti showed up at Sebring with a brand-new Howe Racing Enterprises TA2 car. Andretti earned a runner-up finish in the TA class in last year’s season opener while driving for Chris Dyson’s CD Racing.

“The Ultimate Headers Racing team and Howe Racing Enterprises worked double time to have a brand-new car built and ready just in time for the two-day pre-season test at Sebring,” said Andretti. “I cannot thank them all enough for this massive effort, considering how important it is to hit the ground running in the ultra-competitive CUBE 3 Architecture TA2 Series. Our two days were extremely productive in learning the nuances of this new Ultimate Headers Chevrolet Camaro. We will for sure be ready to take on our competition in just a few short weeks at the season opener.”

The 2024 season kicks off on February 21 at Sebring International Raceway, with the CUBE 3 Architecture TA2 Series taking the green flag on Saturday, February 24, and the TA/XGT/SGT/GT classes contesting their first race on Saturday, February 24

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