XGT’s Michelle Nagai Comes from the Back to Win Race 1 at Portland

July 22, 2023

XGT’s Michelle Nagai Comes from the Back to Win Race 1 at Portland

Brody Goble Dominates TA2 Class, David Hampton Victorious in GT, Steve Goldman Wins TA


PORTLAND, Ore. (July 22, 2023) – Michelle Nagai came from the back to win the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli Western Championship race at Portland International Raceway. Starting last after her qualifying lap was disallowed, Nagai flew through the field in her No. 72 Nagai Racing/Berkeley Jet Drive Chevrolet Camaro in Race 1 of a doubleheader weekend to score the overall race win in her first time competing in the XGT class.

Notes of Interest

  • This is Michele Nagai’s first victory since 2019 when she won in the Western Championship’s TA class at Circuit of The Americas.
  • Today was Nagai’s first-ever start in the XGT class. She has competed in the TA2 class three times this season.
  • This was Brody Goble’s second-consecutive TA2 win from the pole and second victory of 2023.
  • David Hampton won his second GT race of the season, scoring his first in the series’ last outing at Ridge Motorsports Park.

Michele Nagai in the No. 72 Nagai Racing/Berkeley Jet Drive Chevrolet Camaro had a daunting task ahead of her when the green flag waved, starting from the 22nd position after her qualifying time was disallowed due to a penalty in time trials. Last in her class, Nagai impressively rocketed her way to the front, cracking the top 10 by lap four and entering the top five after only seven laps. On lap nine, she entered the runner-up spot and began to stalk Brody Goble, who won the Motul Pole Award and had led every lap thus far. It only took until lap 17 for her to make the pass on Goble, opening up a large gap in front of him within three laps. A lap-23 restart would give Goble one final chance to pass, but Nagai closed the door as he battled his TA2 competitors and she drove away to her first victory of the season and second win of her Trans Am career.  

Bad luck struck both of Nagai’s XGT competitors early. After starting sixth overall, Chris Evans in the No. 92 Central Welding Supply Ford Mustang spun on lap one and headed to the pits with a flat left-rear tire. He continued to struggle until a fuel-pump issue forced his retirement after just 25 laps.

Newcomer Kevin Roggenbuck in the No. 45 Union Marine Audi R8 LMS impressively qualified second overall and first in class, but he dropped to seventh by the conclusion of the first lap. He was able to fight back up to the fourth position by lap six, but he slowed on lap 10 and pulled into the pits briefly. His speed faded once again on lap 27 and he ultimately finished 15 laps down.

“I think [switching to XGT] is the best decision I’ve made in my racing life,” said Nagai as she collected her trophy. “I want to thank Jefferson Racing and Chris Evans. Will Rodgers, the coaching was incredible. The whole team, I can’t thank you guys enough. Thank you all for being here. XGT is the best move I’ve made in a while; this was a lot of fun. After running in TA2, I missed the bigger horsepower like the TA car has. I wanted to get back into that and this is the closest thing I could do. I’m completely happy.”

XGT Results:
1. Michelle Nagai, No. 72 Nagai Racing/Berkeley Jet Drive Chevrolet Camaro
2. Kevin Roggenbuck, No. 45 Union Marine Audi R8 LMS
3. Chris Evans, No. 92 Central Welding Supply Ford Mustang

Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series:
Brody Goble set the fastest qualifying time in his No. 69 Brown Bros. Ford/Cortex Performance Mustang for the third time this year and led the field to green. After a wild restart from those around him, Goble led Ken Sutherland in the No. 68 Kallberg Racing Chevrolet Camaro and Greg Tolson in the No. 70 GT Auto Lounge Ford Mustang, never relinquishing the first position in the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series. While Michele Nagai got around him on lap 17, he paced the TA2 class until the race’s only caution on lap 20.

On the lap-23 restart, Goble had a fierce battle with Sutherland and Tolson but maintained his lead and once again pulled away. Sutherland pulled ahead of Tolson, who he’d been swapping positions with earlier in the race, and secured the second spot. Tolson began battling a power steering problem, but was able to hold on to the last podium spot in the race’s second half. While Goble could have easily cruised to the victory, he had a scary moment on the final lap when his Ford Mustang got loose as he attempted to lay down a fast lap for a starting position in tomorrow’s Race 2. Fortunately, he gathered himself and took the checkered flag, followed by Sutherland and Tolson. Tim Lynn (No. 17 RoofOptions Ford Mustang) and Michael LaPaglia (No. 31 Papini’s Garage/F.A.S.T. Auto Ford Mustang) rounded out the top five.

“The last lap was not my finest moment there,” admitted Goble about his near miss before the checkered flag. “I was going for a fast lap on the final lap. I came from a Formula Drift background, so when the car kicked out sideways, I didn’t really give up on it and I kept my foot in it. But it kept going longer than I was anticipating, and I had a moment where I realized this isn’t a Formula Drift car, it doesn’t like doing this stuff; this is actually going to be a problem. I was able to get away with that, but it would have been a spectacular way to lose the race. I won’t be doing that again. Other than that, it was a fun race. We had a great restart there and I had to put my head down again and had a really good battle with Greg [Tolson] and Ken [Sutherland]. I was able to hang onto it and keep clicking the laps away. Another race tomorrow and I’m looking forward to racing with these guys. The Brown Bros. Racing team gave me a car that is super easy to drive. It has great balance; it’s making me look good. I really appreciate all the hard work and I’m looking forward to doing it again tomorrow.”

Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series Top Five:
1. Brody Goble, No. 69 Brown Bros. Ford/Cortex Performance Ford Mustang
2. Ken Sutherland, No. 68 Kallberg Racing Chevrolet Camaro
3. Greg Tolson, No. 70 GT Auto Lounge Ford Mustang
4. Tim Lynn, No. 17 RoofOptions Ford Mustang
5. Michael LaPaglia, No. 31 Papini’s Garage/F.A.S.T. Auto Ford Mustang

David Hampton in the No. 14 AR Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 CS scored his second-consecutive GT class victory, but the road to the checkered flag was not as easy as it had been when he sailed to victory at The Ridge. Hampton started third in class behind JC Meynet (No. 28 Killer Shrimp Racing Chevrolet Corvette) and Kevin Michaels (No. 98 Killer Shrimp Restaurant Chevrolet Corvette). The teammates battled back and forth for the lead until Michaels spun on lap 12 and fell back to fourth. After the green, Meynet and Hampton fought side by side but Meynet maintained the point position until the lap-23 restart. Meynet dropped to third behind Larry Luck (No. 16 Luck Services BMW M3) and Hampton took over the lead. On lap 33, Michaels retired to the paddock with a mechanical issue, and Hampton led Luck and Meynet across the finish line.

“Today was really fun at the start,” said Hampton. “We had a nice clean start and I just tucked in tight with cars going everywhere,” said Hampton. “I tried to stay with the Corvettes [of Kevin Michaels and JC Meynet] because I knew they were a little faster than me, then all of a sudden, they weren’t there. So, I put my foot in it and I kept going. I just hit my marks and tried to drive the clean race I knew I could do. My team was just behind me the whole way and my family is here. What an incredible day, thank you so much.”

GT Results:
1. David Hampton, No. 14 AR Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 CS
2. Larry Luck, No. 16 Luck Services BMW M3
3. JC Meynet, No. 28 Killer Shrimp Racing Chevrolet Corvette
4. Kevin Michaels, No. 98 Killer Shrimp Restaurant Chevrolet Corvette
5: Martin Sarukhanyan, No. 11 Cobalt Brakes Mazda Miata

Steve Goldman in the No. 13 LIG Racing Chevrolet Corvette was the only TA class competitor in the field. After starting 13th overall, Goldman worked his way up as far as ninth before a gearbox issue forced him to retire after competing only 18 laps.

TA Results:
1. Steve Goldman, No. 13 LIG Racing Chevrolet Corvette

Final Details:
Full official race results can be found here.

The Western Championship returns to the track tomorrow for Race 2 of the Portland International Raceway doubleheader at 11:40 a.m. PT.

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