Merrill Vs. Crews: The Chase for the TA2 Championship
November 2, 2023
Now that all four of the National Championship TA/XGT/SGT/GT titles were decided at VIRginia International Raceway last month, all eyes are on the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series, where Brent Crews and Thomas Merrill will go head-to-head to determine the 2023 champion.
Last year, Merrill (No. 26 Bennett/HP Tuners/Cope Race Cars Ford) captured the TA2 Series championship against all odds, earning every possible point by winning both the Motul Pole Award and the race at COTA, tying Rafa Matos (No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang) in the points and claiming his first-career title in a tiebreaker. Merrill has the opportunity to come from behind to win the championship once again this year, although the odds aren’t quite as stacked against him.
Crews (No. 70 Franklin Road/Mobil 1/Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang) had the opportunity to clinch the class and become the youngest champion in Trans Am history by finishing fourth or better at VIRginia International Raceway last month, but disaster struck when a cut tire resulted in a crash which caused crippling damage to his car, relegating him to a 32nd-place finish. The result shrunk Crews’ lead from 132 points going into VIR down to just 45 points. With 110 points available in a weekend, the championship race is now wide open heading into COTA. While perfection is not required by either driver, both Crews and Merrill will undoubtedly be aiming for it.
How Did We Get Here?
Merrill was the first of the two drivers to take the points lead in 2023 when his first and only win of the season in Round 4 at Lime Rock Park put him at the top of the board, with Crews ranked second. Despite winning the second race of the season at NOLA Motorsports Park, Crews would not take over the points lead until the following weekend, when he earned his second win of the season in Race 1 of the Detroit Grand Prix. Two more wins at Road America and Watkins Glen have kept Crews atop the leaderboard ever since, with Merrill and Matos battling it out for second. Early trouble for Matos at VIR, which resulted in a 33rd-place finish, took the Brazilian mathematically out of contention, leaving Crews and Merrill in charge of their destinies at COTA. Despite Crews having three more wins, Merrill has kept himself in contention by showing consistent speed and scoring five podiums to Crews’ six so far.
See How It Ends
We won’t know until the checkered flag waves whether Crews will earn his first-career Trans Am championship at just 15 years, seven months and six days old, or if Merrill will win his second-consecutive title. Find out by tuning in to Sunday’s race at 11:05 a.m. ET by watching live on MAVTV or streaming live for free here!