Dyson Ends Trans-Am Season On High Note

Chris Dyson ended the Trans-Am Series season on a winning note Sunday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Chris Dyson ended the Trans-Am Series season on a winning note Sunday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

BRASELTON, Ga. – Chris Dyson shook off a season of frustration Sunday at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, leading all the way to capture the Trans-Am Series presented by Pirelli combined five-class finale with a flag-to-flag victory.

The championship weekend saw two days of racing, with Sunday’s 100-mile feature integrating all five classes of Trans-Am competition into one event on the high-speed 2.54-mile circuit north of Atlanta.

The New Yorker led the opening 12 laps on Saturday, only to have a belt break and end his day early. Sunday, he was not to be denied. Dyson pulled away from Saturday winner Martin Ragginger at the start and held off numerous challenges. The Austrian kept the gap within one second for most of the 40-lap race, but Dyson finished strong, winning by 2.239-seconds for his second victory of the year.

“It’s been a tough year, but it’s nice to close it out this way,” said Dyson, who won the 2019 finale at Daytona. “We had to play every trick in my experience book today. It was really hard racing. Martin was on me the whole way, and I had to use every tool in the kit today with all the traffic out there. He was keeping me honest, but after yesterday, it sure feels good to go home with a win under our belt.”

Ragginger finished second in the No. 17 Gin Amade Chevrolet Camaro, and was followed across the line by his Burtin Racing teammate Tomy Drissi in the No. 8 Lucas Oil Camaro.

Ernie Francis Jr. claimed his fourth-consecutive TA championship, and seventh straight class title, with a fourth-place finish. The title win breaks Tommy Kendall’s overall record for the most consecutive Trans-Am championships. Kendall won three consecutive championships in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

Francis turned around a troublesome weekend, coming from 10th to briefly hold third before losing the podium position to title hopeful Drissi. Francis beat out Drissi by 29 points in the championship standings, which will become official with the posting of official results on Wednesday.

“It was a really tough race, coming from the back,” said Francis. “Once we took the green flag we had the championship locked up. That took some pressure off of us, so we could race and have some fun out there. I was battling for the podium, but didn’t have quite enough car for that today. Maybe we’ll be back next year and take another championship.”

Boris Said spun in turn one on the opening lap on cold tires, but came back through the field to place fourth in the No. 2 Weaver Racing Dodge Challenger. He was followed by Justin Marks in the No. 99 Trackhouse Chevrolet, Amy Ruman in the No. 23 McNichols Corvette and Simon Gregg in the No. 59 Derhaag Camaro.

Mike Skeen put a bow on his TA2 powered by AEM championship with his second victory of the weekend in the No. 77 Liqui Moly/Turn 14 Ford Mustang.

“I know that it sounds like a broken record but I am really appreciative of Stevens-Miller Racing,” said Skeen. “They work really hard. We had a little bit of a worry after yesterday’s race and thought about not racing today to save the car. Then we decided why not, let’s go for it again. They gave me a great car. The Liqui Moly Turn 14 Distribution Mustang was on fire as usual. I had a great battle there at the start, (Thomas) Merrill was in the mix Franklin (Futrelle) was right there. We were fortunate to clear traffic and stretch our legs a little bit there at the end. It was a heck of a battle. TA2 racing is awesome. I can’t wait to do some more of it.”

Cameron Lawrence managed to poke the No. 8 3-Dimensional Camaro out front for a few laps, but Skeen was not to be denied. Lawrence finished second in class.

Seventeen-year-old Jett Noland wrapped up Rookie of the Year honors with his first podium finish in the No. 66 Nolands Roofing/Cypress Hunt Ford Mustang.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham finished 16th in the No. 26 Mike Cope Race Cars Mustang.

SGT had a change of leadership with two laps remaining when Justin Oakes came to the pits with a broken rear suspension after leading all the way in the No. 11 Droneworks Corvette. That gave the lead to Mark Brummond, who claimed his second victory of the season in the No. 11 Garage Door Doctor BMW M4 GT4. Adrian Wlostowski took second in the No. 96 F.A.S.T. Ford Mustang, but unofficially fell short in the battle for the championship to third-place finisher Lee Saunders in the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper.

Billy Griffin wrapped up the GT season with his fourth victory, leading all the way in the No. 14 Griffin Auto Care/Sheehan’s Towing Ford Mustang. Griffin missed three races early in the season before scoring a career-first triumph in his return at Virginia Int’l Raceway. The West Palm Beach, Fla., driver won the final three rounds of the season.

After unofficially clinching the inaugural XGT championship with his fourth victory of the season, Ken Thwaits did not compete in Sunday’s race. Josh Hill, his lone competition in the class, withdrew after sustaining left-front damage on his No. 15 Audi R8 LMS Ultra in an incident during Thursday’s test day.

Richard Grant was the TA Master winner, placing ninth, and his brother, Milton Grant, was the SGT Master winner. The Grant family has now made a combined 498 starts in Trans-Am. Doug Peterson was the TA2 Master winner, finishing seventh.