Trans Am Series Event Preview: Mission Foods VIR SpeedTour at VIRginia International Raceway
October 5, 2022
Length: 3.27 Miles
Layout: 17-Turn Road Course
Race Direction: Clockwise
Qualifying: Saturday, October 8
TA: 5:20-5:35 p.m. ET
XGT/SGT/GT: 5:40-5:55 p.m. ET
Race: Sunday, October 9
Race Length: 30 Laps/70 Minutes
Qualifying: Friday, October 7
Group 1: 5:30-5:45 p.m. ET
Group 2: 5:45-6:00 p.m. ET
Race: Saturday, October 8
11:40 a.m.-12:50 p.m.
Race Length: 30 Laps/70 Minutes
VIRginia is for RacersThe Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will hold Round 11 of the 2022 season when teams hit the track for the penultimate race of the National Championship season, the Mission Foods VIR SpeedTour at VIRginia International Raceway. With just two races remaining, championships can be won and lost in VIR’s 17 turns. The weekend will feature a strong showing for the TA/XGT/SGT/GT race, with 22 entries total, including 14 in the TA class. TA2 boasts 41 entries, making for a long entry list of 63 cars.
Diverse Win History at VIR
The challenging VIR circuit has allowed a variety of drivers to step atop the podium in previous events, with very few able to claim multiple wins at the track.
In this weekend’s TA/XGT/SGT/GT event, several previous winners are back for a chance to notch another victory at VIR. Chris Dyson in the No. 16 ALTWELL CBD Ford Mustang won the TA event in 2021, clinching last year’s championship in his only victory at the historic track. Lee Saunders in the No. 44 LandSearch LLC Dodge Viper has two previous SGT victories at the track, winning in 2021 as well as Race 1 in 2020. Billy Griffin in the No. 14 Griffin Auto Care Sheehan’s Towing Ford Mustang took home the GT trophy in Race 1 in 2020, and Ken Thwaits in the No. 7 Franklin Road Apparel Chevrolet Camaro won the XGT class in that same event. Boris Said in the No. 2 Technique Chassis/STEEL-IT/Weaver Dodge Challenger captured the TA win in 2019, as well as in Trans Am’s 2002 return to the track. Paul Fix in the No. 21 allgram Mustang earned TA wins in both 2015 and 2014.
The TA2 class has had nine different winners in the last nine events, meaning that a previous victory in no way ensures a solid performance.
- Rafa Matos (2021)
- Tyler Kicera (2020, Race 1)
- Mike Skeen (2020, Race 2)
- Marc Miller (2019)
- Scott Lagasse Jr. (2018)
- Gar Robinson (2017)
- Tony Buffomante (2016)
- Cameron Lawrence (2015)
- Adam Andretti (2014)
Cameron Lawrence in the No. 6 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro is the only TA2 entrant to earn two victories at VIR, having scored wins in both 2015 and 2013. Adrian Wlostowski in the No. 3 Hawk Performance/AMT Motorsport Mustang also has a victory at the track, winning in the SGT class in Race 2 in 2020.
VIRginia Drivers Come Home
Only two drivers in this weekend’s field call the Commonwealth of Virginia home, and both are in the TA2 class. Luke Rumburg in the No. 47 Manchester Hydraulics Ford Mustang is from Beaverdam, and Chris Liesfeld in the No. 96 Fields Racing/M1 Racecars Camaro is from Richmond. Additionally, Chris Durbin in the No. 76 AMSOIL/Flyin’ Wrenchz Racing Camaro is from nearby Cameron, West Virginia.
Trans Am & VIR History
VIR hosted the fourth ever Trans Am race in history on July 21, 1966. The VIR 400 had 36 entrants, with 27 in the Under 2.0 Liter category, and nine in the Over 2.0 Liter class. The event hosted some of the biggest names in motorsports, including Paul Newman, Richard Petty, Wendell Scott, David Pearson and Curtis Turner. The successful event was one for the highlight reels, but Trans Am would not return to the Alton, Va. track until 2002.The circuit has been a staple on the Trans Am schedule since 2013.
VIR Paddock Tour
This Saturday from 10:15-10:45 a.m., Trans Am will host a Backstage Paddock Tour for fans led by commentator Ben Cissell. With Trans Am’s open paddock policy, no additional pass is required. Fans wishing to participate should arrive at the Trans Am transporter in the North Paddock prior to the start of the tour.
2023 Schedule Announced
The Trans Am Series recently announced its 2023 schedule for both the Trans Am National Championship and Trans Am Western Championship. Details can be found here.
CBS Sports Network Air Times
This weekend’s races from VIR will air on CBS Sports Network the week following the event.
TA/XGT/SGT/GT will premiere on Thursday, October 13 at 8:00 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation on Saturday, October 15 at 12:30 a.m. ET.
TA2 will first air on Wednesday, October 12 at 7:00 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation later that evening at 12:30 a.m. ET.
CD Racing Switches it Up
Chris Dyson’s CD Racing is making a lot of changes, including the championship driver’s ride for the next two races. This weekend at VIR, Dyson will debut the No. 16 ALTWELL CBD Ford Mustang in what will be a third entry for the team. In addition to a number change, Dyson will be behind the wheel of a brand-new Ave/Riley chassis, which he plans to use for the final two races of 2022. The team will see Matthew Brabham take over the No. 20 Ford Mustang, and Paul Fix will once again be behind the wheel of the No. 21 allgram/StopFlex.com/Classic Tube Ford Mustang.
Four Grants Take the Green Flag at VIR:
The Grant family will be well represented this weekend at VIR, with four related drivers in Sunday’s field. Keith Grant will make his first start of the 2022 season driving the No. 5 Camaro for Showtime Motorsports in the TA class. His cousin Carey Grant will be behind the wheel of the No. 6 Grant Racing 2 Porsche GT3 Cup in SGT, while Carey’s father Milton Grant, who currently leads the standings in SGT, will continue his title battle in the No. 55 Sentry Self Storage/Springhill Suites Porsche 991.1. Finally, Keith’s father and Milton’s brother Richard Grant will drive the No. 30 Grant Racing Chevrolet Corvette in the TA class. As a family, the Grants have 130 career starts in the Trans Am Series: Milton has 55, followed by Richard with 51. Carey has 20 starts, while Keith has just three.
Kerry Hitt is Racing For Heroes
In Trans Am’s last outing at Watkins Glen International, Kerry Hitt debuted his new car number, No. 22, as a way of bringing attention to the 22 veterans who die by suicide every day. Hitt, whose father was an Army Sergeant in World War II and suffered with PTSD, has joined forces with Racing For Heroes, headquartered at VIRginia International Raceway. This weekend’s event coincides with the organization’s Motorsports Therapy Week, which runs October 3-9. Racing For Heroes is a veteran services 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to empower veterans dealing with the seen and unseen wounds of war by filling the gaps left ?by scarce government resources in an effort to end veteran suicide. Their flagship program uses motorsports as a form of therapy, hosting driving experiences and creating veteran-run teams to instill a sense of purpose and camaraderie in those returning from a life in service. Learn more at www.racingforheroes.org.
It's All About Second in TA
While Chris Dyson officially clinched the TA championship at Watkins Glen International, three drivers will be fighting until the final lap over second place in the standings. Tomy Drissi in the No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford Mustang currently holds the second position with 200 points, followed by Ken Thwaits with 194 points. Not far behind is Amy Ruman in the No. 23 McNichols Co. Corvette with 188 points. Adding to the tight battle is the fact that all three of the drivers battling for second have a best TA finish of third at VIR. Ruman has 12-career starts at VIR and finished third in 2020’s Race 1 and in 2014. Drissi has eight previous races at VIR, finishing third in 2019. Thwaits has made starts at VIR in XGT, SGT and TA, earning an XGT win last year, but he has only one race at the track behind the wheel of a TA car, finishing third last year. David Pintaric is fifth in points in the No. 57 Kryderacing Ford Mustang, 74 points behind Ruman.
In XGT, Randy Hale in the No. 31 Hale Propeller Corvette holds the first position by only 12 points over Danny Lowry in the No. 42 BridgeHaul/Bennett International/PitBoxes.com Audi R8 LMS.
With 121 points, Milton Grant sits atop the SGT standings with a 29-point lead over second-place Cindi Lux (92 points), but Lux was forced to withdraw her No. 45 Dodge Viper this weekend due to a hard crash at The Glen. She plans to return for the final race at Circuit of The Americas. Milton’s son Carey Grant (90 points) is third, but with only two points separating him and Lux, this weekend’s start will ensure him the second spot going into the final round. Dirk Leuenberger holds the fourth position, tied with Carey Grant with 90 points, but with Leuenberger also driving a withdrawn Lux Performance entry, Lee Saunders with 86 points will likely also rise in the standings after the checkered flag.
Billy Griffin remains in a field by himself in the GT class, leading the points in his No. 14 Griffin Auto Care/Sheehan Towing Ford Mustang by 49 points. As the only GT car in this weekend’s class, he will extend that lead at VIR.
Full point standings can be found here.
Showtime Motorsports Welcomes Dylan Archer
Showtime Motorsports will look a little different this weekend, with a new, but familiar, face racing under their banner. Showtime Motorsports recently announced the addition of Dylan Archer to their 2023 driver lineup. Archer will get a running start by joining the organization for the final two races of 2022, piloting the No. 4 FPEC Camaro. The 23-year-old Texas native, who got his start in Trans Am Esports in 2020, currently sits 13th in the TA2 standings and has impressed in his first full-time season, ranking third in the Rookie Standings and fifth in the Young Gun Standings. Archer will race beside TA2 teammate Cameron Lawrence, who has two previous victories at VIR. Mike Skeen jumps into Archer’s MMR Racing slot, piloting the No. 00 Camaro this weekend.
Who Said? Boris Said Pulling Double Duty as Son Debuts
Boris Said will pull a rare double duty this weekend at VIR, stepping into the No. 86 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang in TA2 in addition to driving for Weaver Racing in the TA class for the fourth time this season. He’ll serve as teammate to his son, Boris Said Jr., as he makes his Trans Am Series debut in the No. 89 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang. The elder Said is the perfect mentor for his son, as he is one of the few drivers with multiple victories at VIR, winning in the TA class in both 2019 and 2002.
TA2 News & Notes
In addition to Boris Said Jr., the TA2 class will see two other drivers making their series debut this weekend at VIR, both for Nitro Motorsports. Thomas Annunziata will drive the No. 90 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang, and Cale Phillips will be in the No. 99 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang.
Team SLR recently announced a partnership with the American Gastroenterological Association, a trusted voice in the gastrointestinal community. Team owner Scott Lagasse Jr. is a colon cancer survivor and formed ScreenYourMachine.org to educate people on getting age-appropriate cancer screenings. Colorectal cancer is the second-deadliest cancer among men and women combined, and he hopes that the relationship with the AGA will raise awareness of preventative measures and promote colon cancer screenings.
Connor Zilisch wrapped up his season in MX-5 Cup at Road Atlanta a few weeks ago, finishing second in the championship. Zilisch, in the No. 5 Silver Hare Racing Camaro this weekend, impressed the Trans Am world last year when he won the TA2 pole at VIR in his series debut at 15 years old, shattering the track record with a time of 1:48.905.
TA2 Standings Tighten
With Connor Mosack (No. 28 Open Eyes/Nacarato Truck Centers/Nic Tailor Custom Fit Underwear Ford Mustang) winning and Thomas Merrill (No. 26 BridgeHaul/HP Tuners/Cope Race Cars Mustang) finishing second at Watkins Glen, Rafa Matos’ (No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang) points lead has decreased to only 12 points over second-place Merrill and 16 points over third-place Mosack. With such a tight championship race, every point counts in the final two races for the top-three competitors, and it's anyone’s championship to win. Brent Crews in the No. 70 Nitro Motorsports Mustang currently sits fourth in points, 20 points behind Mosack, and Mike Skeen in the No. 00 MMR Racing Camaro is a distant fifth, 33 points behind Crews.
Rookie Standings & Young Gun Update
The Wilwood TA2 Rookie Standings and Peter Gregg Foundation Young Gun Standings remains a fierce battle as Trans Am’s youngest and most promising talent continues to impress. In the Rookie Standings, Brent Crews currently holds a 49-point lead over second-place Evan Slater in the No. 25 Cube3 Architecture Chevrolet Camaro. Dylan Archer remains third, and his new ride this weekend could give him the boost he needs in the final two races to close the gap.
Connor Mosack’s win at Watkins Glen solidified his lead in the Young Gun Standings, extending his gap over Brent Crews to 20 points. Evan Slater remains third, 49 points behind Crews. Just two races remain between the Young Guns and a $20,000 prize that will be awarded to the top driver under age 25 at the year-end banquet. All eight of the top Young Gun drivers will be entered this weekend at VIR.
Full championship, rookie and Young Gun standings can be found here.