Showtime Motorsports: Sebring TA & TA2 Race Report
March 1, 2023
The entire Showtime Motorsports x Franklin Road Apparel team were ready for battle for the season opener of the Trans Am series this past weekend at Sebring International Raceway. Running in both the TA and TA2 classes meant for a very busy weekend; the TA2 class would kick off the races first on Saturday, then TA would follow on Sunday afternoon.
Testing and practice for all team driver's was essential, and qualifying brought some good results. The TA2 drivers put forth their best effort, resulting in Evan Slater qualifying P6 out of the 47 car field, Dylan Archer earned the P17 spot, and Michele Abbate would start P37 after having an ECU failure which hindered her ability to make the grid. Anticipation was running high, and the race delivered one of the longest green flag stints that we have seen in a long time for TA2.
Slater had a really solid race and finished with a Top 5 to kick off the season.
"We had a great start to the season at Sebring International Raceway, where we brought the car home without a scratch, and in fifth position. I wish we would've had a restart, because I saved tons of tire, and I felt Showtime Motorsports and Franklin Road Apparel gave me a podium quality car. Onto NOLA in a short 2 weeks!" - Evan Slater, #6 TA2
Abbate was able to advance 14 positions and finished P23 officially.
"I'm really grateful to have come away from Sebring with a top 25 finish. This is a super challenging track for me, and it was really helpful to have my teammates to learn from with help from Tyler Kicera. I am looking forward to revisiting NOLA and hopefully having a little advantage over the competition from our team test days there." - Michele Abbate, #30 TA2
Unfortunately, Dylan Archer experienced some mechanical issues taking him out of the race around lap 18, earning him a P39 finish.
"I think everyone on the team was disappointed to run into some of the issues that we had this weekend but that's the hard part of this sport sometimes. We showed great pace as a team which gives us a lot of positives to look at going into NOLA." - Dylan Archer, #4 TA2
This was the first time that all 3 of the team's TA drivers, Ken Thwaits, Justin Marks, and Keith Grant hit the track together at the same time. Each of them worked to improve their inputs and car set up through testing and practice. The qualifying session resulted in great success when Justin Marks landed the pole award by thirteen hundredths of a second. Keith Grant locked into the 5th place position, and Ken Thwaits earned the P11 spot out of the 13 car field.
Sunday's TA race featured a little cooler weather, but not by much. Justin Marks was dominating the field in the technical sections and the restarts but finished P8 after having to retire from an electrical issue.
"We had a great debut weekend in the new Riley chassis. Really spent most of our time on track just experimenting and working through a lot of different setups. We're in the depths of development with this car so we are still trying to balance learning with competing. The team put a great setup on the car that resulted in the pole and then kind of controlled the race. Ultimately we fell victim to an electrical issue towards the end that ruined the result, but we made a lot of progress and have a good game plan for the next race at NOLA." - Justin Marks, #99 TA
Keith Grant was consistently charging hard, making advancements throughout the entire race, and finished an impressive 3rd place.
“This was a pretty tough field this weekend. I just put my head down, avoided trouble and brought home a podium finish!” - Keith Grant, #40 TA
Ken Thwaits was also very consistent and battled through the field and the demanding track conditions. He advanced 7 positions and earned a 4th place finish.
We drove as hard as we could the whole race distance; we are still sorting out this new Riley chassis and we haven't unlocked this car’s true potential. We ran hard and finished strong and I'm happy about that!” - Ken Thwaits, #7 TA
Ultimately the weekend delivered a ton of action, effort, and great racing in the Trans Am series. The team is excited to continue the charge for the championship in just over a week at NOLA, where they had went testing over the off-season. Stay tuned for the "Road to Glory" MAVTV Broadcast to make its season premiere on March 16th to share the behind the scenes look at each driver's story and quest for their championship.