DYSON & MASAOOD COMBINE STRATEGY & SPEED FOR 1-2 SONOMA TRANS AM SWEEP
April 26, 2021
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY (April 26, 2021) – Every racer wants to have the fastest car, but it takes more than pure speed to win races. Smart strategy, often as not, is the key to being first under the checkered flag. At Sears Point Sunday afternoon Chris Dyson and his teammate Humaid Masaood depended more on quick thinking and correct strategic choices than pure speed in sweeping the top two steps on the podium at the season-opening event on the 2021 Trans Am West Coast Championship.
“It was particularly satisfying to win the home race of our partner ALTWELL, and be able to celebrate in Victory Lane with its founder, my dear friend Greg Pickett,” Dyson said. He also noted that 2021 marked the 35th anniversary of his father Rob's winning the IMSA Camel GT race at the northern California circuit in a Porsche 962.
Dyson had put his #20 Ford Mustang – sporting yellow and white ALTWELL branding – on the pole with a Trans Am track record-setting time. It was an accomplishment that provided no advantage on an afternoon that saw the race start after a sudden wind-blown rainstorm and end under bright sunny skies. Dyson surrendered the pole position when he changed to rain tires on the pace lap. It was the first of two tire changes over the course of the 100-mile sprint race, forcing him each time to fight his way from the back of the field to the front.
“On the first of our two pace laps, literally as we were leaving pit lane, the rain starting coming down heavily enough that the track glazed over. If the track were going to stay wet, I figured I would be much faster on rain tires than the slicks we qualified on, and at the very least I'd be able to stay on the road.” Dyson said following the race. “So I made the call to pit before the race went green, which I have never done by choice. It meant giving up pole position and starting at the back of the field, but I reckoned I could make up the deficit and more before the rain stopped and the track dried out. You never quite know if you're right in these situations, and there were some pretty animated radio conversations with the crew about the rain as it started to dry out quickly.”
While his crew in the pits grappled with some conflicting weather data, Dyson carved his way toward the front of the field. But the track was drying rapidly and it was clear the advantage of rain tires on a wet track was turning to a disadvantage. With three-quarters of the race remaining and the whole team concluding that no more rain would fall over the course of the race, Dyson ducked back into the pits for a change back to slick Pirelli tires under green-flag conditions. That put him a lap down to the race readers. “I’ve raced here at Sears Point so many times in IMSA and World Challenge that I knew we would be likely to have a full course caution,” Dyson said. In due time that yellow flag materialized and Dyson was able to make up his lap lost lap. All that remained was for Dyson to claw his way through the field. Which he did, setting new race track records and eventually winning the event by more than 30 seconds.
Dyson noted that third-place finisher and erstwhile TA-class competitor Gregg had opted to race an XGT-class Mercedes this weekend, which while considerably less powerful than Dyson's Mustang, features traction control and antilock braking. “Those features would be a huge advantage in heavy rain,” Dyson said “That was a pretty good bet. If it had stayed rainy, Simon would have been in good shape.”
While their finishing positions will be added to the Trans Am record book, because they are competing for the National Championship, neither Dyson nor Masaood will score points towards the West Coast Series Championship. "I couldn't be happier with scoring a 1-2 finish here," Dyson said. "Both cars ran flawlessly and we are in a good position heading into the Monterey event next weekend."
Masaood Overcomes Travel Hurdles On Way To Second-Place Finish
Travel complications on his scheduled flight to California caused Masaood, who had not previously raced at Sears Point, to miss both Friday test sessions. So the 25-minute Saturday morning practice session was the first time he drove on the circuit. With 15 minutes of qualifying that afternoon – he gridded sixth – Masaood had a grand total of 40 minutes in his #21 Amamos La Vida Tequila Ford Mustang on this tricky circuit when he splashed past the rainy green flag on dry-track tires.
Masaood fought to keep the car under control during the opening rainy laps, before impressing onlookers with a charge toward the front of the field as the circuit dried .“This is a fantastic circuit,” Masaood said following the race. “I’m only sorry I wasn’t able to get more time on the track before the race. By the end of the race, we were starting to show some genuine pace and I was getting more confident. In any case, I am really pleased with our second-place finish this weekend. It was an excellent tune-up before Laguna Seca, which is a race where the points we score will be going toward our season championship.”
On To Laguna Seca
Qualifying for this weekend’s race at Laguna Seca takes place on Saturday, May 1 from 4:45 to 5:00 pm PT (7:45-8:00 ET). The 46-lap (100-mile) race takes the green flag Sunday, May 2 at 1:00 pm PT (4:00 pm ET). Live-streaming and live timing for the event will be available on the Trans Am by Pirelli official App.