On this Day in Trans Am History: Sept. 9, 2018
September 9, 2020
Sept. 9, 2018
Rafa Matos capped a weekend of Trans Am Series Presented by Pirelli racing at Watkins Glen International by winning Round 9 of the 2018 TA2® Powered by AEM.
Matos was driving the No. 88 3-Dimensonal Services Chevrolet Camaro.
Shane Lewis took second in the No. 92 Turn Key Industries/Surphis Camaro, followed by Harry Steenbakkers in the No. 25 BC Race Cars/Ottawa West Development Camaro.
Scott Lagasse Jr. captured the first pole of his career in the No. 95 SLR/Fields Racing/M1 Fastrack Chassis Chevrolet Camaro. He was joined on the front row by Louis-Philippe Montour. Matos started third, but overtook Montour for second in Turn 1 on the opening lap. Corning native Tony Buffomante then took third in the No. 26 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang.
The 19th lap was the turning point. Buffomante went to the pits with terminal electrical issues, while Lagasse stopped on track with transmission problems. Matos led the rest of the way despite late pressure from Lewis, scoring his fifth victory in nine races and taking a 58-point lead en route to capturing the championship.
Boris Said and Ernie Francis Jr. – both sidelined in the opening laps of Saturday’s TA race – fared better in the Sunday TA2® event. Said was eighth in the No. 89 3-Dimensional Camaro, while Frances took 11th in the No. 44 ECC/Anchor Bolt & Screw Camaro.
In Saturday’s TA feature, Tomy Drissi won in the No. 8 The Predator Chevrolet Camaro, followed by Lawrence Loshak, six-tenths of a second back in the No. 2 Pennzoil/ETE/Go Share Camaro. Simon Gregg was third in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Corvette, followed by Amy Ruman in the No. 23 McNichols Company Corvette.
Said won the pole with a new track record of 1:46.726-seconds. It was his 10th career pole and 71st career start, driving the No. 21 Monster Energy/Weaver Concepts Dodge Challenger. Point leader and eventual champion Francis started second in the No. 98 Frameless Shower Doors Ford Mustang.
At the green flag, it was Paul Fix who jumped into the lead in the No. 4 StopFlex/Car Coach Ford Mustang. However, the Western New Yorker suffered driveline issues after leading the opening 11 laps and went to the sidelines. That gave the lead to Francis, but the Floridian went out moments later after losing an oil pump. Said retired two laps later with wheel bearing issues.
Meanwhile, Drissi worked his way to the front after starting sixth. He took fourth on the second lap, and garnered the lead on the 22nd lap. The Hollywood driver led the rest of the way.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been here,” said Drissi. “Last time at Watkins Glen I clinched the championship with a second place finish [in 2009], but it was a bit of a Catch-22. I was so happy but, at the same time I lost that race by so little. I wasn’t sure that I’d ever get a shot at this again. Now Trans Am is back at The Glen, and I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself. The start of the race was just crazy; and I probably could have pressed my advantage, but I decided to lay back and play it slow — see what happens. I hate it for the guys that ended up having trouble, especially Boris; he was so fast.”
Loshak put the pressure on his teammate over the final six laps, coming back after a first-lap pit stop to clear grass from his grill. He then had a long battle with Ruman, who slowed in the final laps and lost a podium position to Gregg. For improving from 16th to second, Loshak won the COOLSHIRT Systems Cool Move of the Race award.
New York driver Chris Dyson was ninth in TA, completing 27 laps in the No. 20 Plaid Ford Mustang.
Mark Boden took TA3 honors, winning the pole and placing fifth overall in the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche 991 GT3 Cup, while Warren Dexter led TA4 from the pole in the No. 61 Joe’s Hand Cleaner Ginetta G55.
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