DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Trans-Am Series TA/SGT/GT drivers delivered another spectacular finale at Daytona Int’l Speedway on Saturday to close out the season with a title-deciding bout.
Chris Dyson needed everything to go his way to overcome the points advantage of Ernie Francis Jr. and claim the title in his No. 20 Plaid Ford Mustang.
While Dyson claimed pole position in qualifying, led every lap of the 29-lap race and clocked the fastest time of the session on his way to his third win of the season, it wasn’t enough to derail Francis’ drive to a sixth career Trans-Am title.
Dyson mathematically had a chance at the championship if Francis finished last. With Francis taking second, the points from Dyson’s perfect weekend still weren’t enough to keep Francis from scoring a second consecutive TA class championship.
Despite coming up shy of his championship goal. The second-year TA driver was ecstatic after the race to keep the winning Dyson name alive at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
“I won here a few times the first part of my racing career and I am feeling fantastic after that win,” Dyson said. “It’s so great to be back at Daytona winning here, there’s nothing quite like it. It’s been a very dramatic season for us, a lot of ups and downs. We came here and we’ve done exactly what we needed to do. We came up a bit short on the title race but it was a real joy and privilege to race out there today,”
Targeting the lead right from start, Francis shadowed Dyson throughout the race. On the final lap, the 21-year-old South Floridian sliced a tire in the No. 98 Frameless Shower Doors that extended Dyson’s margin of victory as Francis nursed his wounded Ford Mustang to a second-place finish.
“I am really looking forward to next season racing against Chris (Dyson),” said Francis. “Chris and I go to battle every race and I think we’ve made each other better drivers because of it. We had to take it home today to clinch the championship. Wish we could have ended the season with a win, but we will be back next year even stronger.”
Adam Andretti drove from the back of the pack to finish third in the No. 17 Engineered Components Co./AnchorBolt Chevrolet Camaro, prevailing in a spirited battle to end Tomy Drissi’s bid for a fourth-consecutive podium finish in the No. 8 Lucas Oil/Axalta Chevrolet Camaro.
Kerry Hitt, in the No. 19 Advanced Composite Products Inc. Cadillac CTSV, earned the Masters Cup Award in the TA class after finishing his 100th Trans-Am career start in 13th place. In addition to his Masters Cup honor, Hitt was given a special commemorative trophy by Trans Am to celebrate his career accomplishment.
Having won the season-opening race at Sebring, Lee Saunders finished his SuperGT season with bookend wins with a Daytona victory. SGT Class champion Mark Boden finished second in the No. 46 Beverage Flavors Int’l Porsche. Tom Herb crossed the stripe third in the No. 16 Fall-Line Motorsports/Porsche 991 GT3 Cup.
Steven Davison continued his winning streak in the GT class, ending his championship season with his fifth victory in the No. 22 Davinci Plastic Surgery Aston Martin Vantage.
Davison went to the point during a lap 10 caution when pole-starter Mark Ramsey was issued a drive-through penalty after the first-time Trans-Am competitor missed the wave-by in the No. 92 Big Data in Action Mercedes-AMG GT4. The mistake forced Ramsey to a third-place finish. Billy Griffins took second in the No. 14 Griffin Auto Care/Sheehan’s Towing Ford Mustang.