BELLE ISLE, Mich. – Canadian Misha Goikhberg captured his first Trans-Am Series TA2 class victory on Saturday afternoon around the streets of Belle Isle Park during the Muscle Car Challenge.
The prologue of the Muscle Car Challenge story opened with Tony Buffomante in the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang starting on pole with reigning TA2 champion and 2018 Motor City Dash winner Rafa Matos in second.
As the green flag waved, Buffomante and Matos immediately built a gap from the pack. Matos took the lead in lap two but Buffomante paid back the favor before the drivers crossed the stripe for lap three. The past Detroit Grand Prix winners squeezed side-by-side into turn five, Matos lost the battle and was forced to the pits with a flat tire.
Buffomante continued the race without much contention from the field, building more than a three second gap on second, until a spin in turn one sent the Mike Cope Racing driver back to fifth.
In his first TA2 race of the season, veteran driver Tony Ave led the middle segments of the Muscle Car Challenge. Dicing back and forth for position with his BC Race Cars teammate, Goikhberg stuck his nose to the inside of Ave to squeeze his way into the race lead on lap 18.
“My car was consistent and easy to drive, so I stepped on it,” said Goikhberg. “I managed the gap and played it safe in traffic, and I’m so happy to bring it home for my team owners Blaise and Penny (Csida). It’s special to see this kind of passion about going racing. We’re looking forward to tomorrow, to see how we stack up against all the faster cars.”
Starting in seventh place, Dillon Machavern methodically weaved through the 2.35-mile street course with ease until he caught up with his Stevens-Miller Racing teammate and hometown favorite Marc Miller. Miller tried to fend off Machavern, defending position for several laps. Machavern’s Ford was able to edge Miller’s Dodge in the corners as Machavern raced into podium position and Miller had to settle for a fourth-place finish.