Chris Dyson Closes Championship Season with a Win at COTA
November 7, 2022
Marc Austin Wins XGT, Dirk Leuenberger Takes SGT,
Chris Coffey Best in GT in National Championship
Matt Crandall Wins XGT and Michael LaPaglia Takes SGT Trophy in Western Championship
AUSTIN, Texas (November 6, 2022) ? 2022 TA Champion Chris Dyson ended the season just like he started it: with a victory. Coming into the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s season finale at the Mission Foods Austin SpeedTour at Circuit of The Americas, Dyson had already clinched the championship, so his CD Racing team had their eyes on a win to cap off the year. After starting third, Dyson picked off his competitors in his No. 16 ALTWELL CBD Ford Mustang and cruised to the win. The victory was Dyson’s sixth of the season, the first of which was achieved at the season-opening event at Sebring International Raceway.
After setting a new track record in Saturday’s qualifying session, Boris Said in the No. 2 Accio Data/Technique Chassis/STEEL-IT/Weaver Dodge Challenger led the field to green next to Dyson’s teammate Matthew Brabham in the No. 20 Concord American Flagpole Ford Mustang. Said jumped out to the lead as the field splayed out behind him, and the top-three leaders avoided getting caught in a Turn 1 pileup when Gustavo Ortega spun in the No. 17 Chocron Racing Team Corvette after starting fourth. Caught up in the fray were Tomy Drissi in the No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford Mustang and Ken Thwaits in the No. 5 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro, both of whom were fighting for second place in the standings. Drissi incurred damage to his left-front fender, but both contenders soldiered on.
Said held the lead until lap eight when Brabham worked his way around him, with team owner Dyson hot on his tail. Brabham outpaced Dyson until lap 16, when the champion claimed his spot at the front of the field. Once Dyson inherited the point position, he led until the checkered flag, crossing the finish line followed by Brabham and Said, the latter of which earned the TA Masters Award. Behind the leaders, Drissi, Thwaits and Amy Ruman in the No. 23 McNichols Co. Corvette battled it out on the racetrack in the closing laps, with Drissi also fighting against his car’s failing power steering. With only 11 points separating the three at the start of the race, Drissi’s perseverance paid off, and an eighth-place finish secured him the runner-up position in the TA class standings. Ruman ultimately took third in the points, and Thwaits took fourth.
“I’ve been wanting to win here for years, and I finally got it done,” said Dyson in Victory Lane. “Matty [Brabham] set the stage last year with a great last-lap pass for the win, and it was a great debut for him. It’s awesome having him back with us this year and getting a 1-2 finish. I’m so thrilled with the team’s success. I’m really honored to give Riley Technologies their first win with the new chassis; I think it’s going to be the first of many. I have to say thanks to my CD Racing team for the support all year. It’s unbelievable coming out here, racing with Boris [Said], racing with Matty. The talent here in Trans Am is fantastic. These cars are the most fun cars I’ve ever driven. We’ve had a lot of success and I’m looking forward to building on it. I just want to say thanks to everybody who has made this possible for us.”
In XGT’s National Championship, Marc Austin in the No. 11 MAD Race Sim Lab Mercedes AMG GT3 started first in class, but got caught up in the Turn 1 incident at the beginning of the race. Dropping back in the pack, he was able to work his way back up to the lead by the race’s halfway point and held the position for the remainder of the event, earning his first ever Trans Am win. Danny Lowry in the No. 42 BridgeHaul/Bennett International/Pitboxes.com Mercedes AMG finished second.
“It’s good to be home and to get a win,” said Austin native Marc Austin. “I love driving that Mercedes, and I feel lucky to get to race with Lone Star Racing Team, knowing that I have their support. We’ve got a great sponsor on board today. This is my first Trans Am win, and it’s pretty exciting to get it at home.”
In the SGT National championship, Dirk Leuenberger in the No. 35 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper led the class for a majority of the race, but the competitors behind him changed throughout the event, developing issues and making comebacks. Ultimately, Milton Grant in the No. 55 Sentry Self Storage/Springhill Suites Porsche 991.1 finished second, earning the SGT Masters Award and securing his championship in the class. Milton’s son Carey Grant in the No. 6 Grant Racing 2 Porsche GT3 Cup finished third.
“What a great race, and a great Trans Am season,” said Leuenberger. “I’m really grateful to finish the year off strong. This was an unbelievable race; very competitive. I want to thank my family. I’ve got 21 friends and family here this weekend, and I bet they all enjoyed watching today. I want to thank my team, because they’re amazing. Lux Performance Group is as professional as it gets in this sport, and if you want to drive fast, just drive with Cindi [Lux].”
First-time competitor Chris Coffey in the No. 97 Traffic Grafix/Deft Motion/PR2 Racing Maserati MC GT4 dominated the GT class in the National Championship, winning the race in his Trans Am debut. Coffey was followed by Billy Griffin in the No. 14 Griffin Auto Car/Sheehan’s Towing Ford Mustang, who won his second championship in the class. Jacob Deily in the No. 70 Hyundai Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N TCR finished third, and Richard Forsythe in the No. 27 Forsythe Racing Corvette earned the GT Masters Award. Following the event, Coffey was awarded the ChillOut Keep Cool Move of the Race.
“Oh wow, that was absolutely amazing,” said Coffey. “That was the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever driven that fast for that long. The first person I have to thank is Colin Cohen. Without him, I absolutely wouldn’t even be in this paddock. I’m usually the one standing on pit wall, usually the one doing all the work, setting the car up, and it was an incredible feeling to be on the other side of pit wall. To win in my debut race is pretty amazing.”
Matt Crandall in the No. 142 Avant Garde Collection Camaro was the victor in the Western Championship’s XGT class, overcoming a flat tire and speeding penalty earlier in the event. Howard Johnston in the No. 32 IWS Acquisition Group Ford Mustang was second in the class.
“That was a great race, the Chris Evans Inc. car was great all weekend,” said Crandall. “It was my first time in that car, and it was just a great package. After the melee in the front at the beginning, we could actually stretch out a big gap, but then we got a flat. We had to pit to change the tire, and then I went through the pits too fast. My car was really fast, and this Chris Evans team put me back in it.”
Michael LaPaglia in the No. 31 Papini’s/Johnson Tuning/FAST Ford Mustang FP350P took the Western SGT class win. Greg Anthony in the No. 123 Prime Roofing BMW M3 finished second in the SGT class.
“I had a great race, and a clean 75 minutes,” said LaPaglia. “At the beginning in Turn 1 there was a little bit of chaos and I was forced to sweep wide; it felt like I lost a lot of positions. After that, I drove hard and was giving everything I could, trying different lines. Some laps it worked, some laps it wouldn’t, but all in all, I’m happy with my performance. What a great time to be here at COTA.”
Xuanqian Wang in the No. 122 AURALIC North America McLaren 570S GT4 earned the victory for the GT class in the Western Championship.
“That was a really close race,” said Wang. “I was racing with a Maserati in the front, and some TA cars passed me. It was very good; very clean. Everybody left room, which was cool. I was not very experienced at managing the traffic. I think the car has a little bit of a smaller fuel cell, so I had to save fuel the last couple laps. Today was a lot of fun.”
The broadcast of today’s race, presented by Franklin Road Apparel, will air on CBS Sports Network on Sunday, November 13 at 2 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation later that night at 12 a.m. ET.
The 2023 National Championship season kicks off at Sebring International Raceway on February 23-26 with the Sebring SpeedTour. The 2023 Western Championship season will begin at Thunderhill Raceway with the Thunderhill SpeedTour on March 3-5.
Full official race results can be found here.