Robinson Nips Goikhberg In COTA Trans-Am Thriller

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Gar Robinson bested Misha Goikhberg in a photo finish to win Saturday's Trans-Am Series TA2 feature at Circuit of the Americas. (Chris Clark Photo)

AUSTIN, Texas — In one of the tightest finishes in the history of the Trans-Am Series, Gar Robinson captured the TA2 class victory Saturday over Misha Goikhberg in the COTA Muscle Car Challenge at Circuit of The Americas by .064 of a second.

Robinson, in the No. 74 74 Ranch Chevrolet Camaro, and Goikhberg spent much of the 29-lap contest around the 3.426-mile, 20-turn circuit within a car length of each other.  Robinson would assume the race lead on lap five after starting second, but was tailed by Goikhberg closely and eventually overtaken by the No. 25 on lap 24 only to return the favor on lap 26.

Goikhberg would overtake Robinson again halfway through the final lap but was unable to distance himself with the duo of Camaros running side-by-side throughout the turns all while navigating lapped traffic.  Goikhberg would lead the race into the final turn; but Robinson proved resilient, keeping with the No. 25, resulting in a drag race to the finish line and an ensuing side-by-side finish and the slimmest margin of victory.

“Misha and I went side-by-side through the majority of the last lap,” said Robinson. “Lapped traffic was a bit of an issue for us; but after four years of trying to win this race, the desire was definitely there and it was the last chance.  I just stuck the car in knowing he had the inside line so I tagged outside with the feeling he might go wide, but it just turned into a drag race to the finish line.  We didn’t touch; it was just incredible.  It’s really how I like to run and I appreciate drivers who do the same.  It was just going to be who had it and luckily Katech power helped us past the checkered flag. Muscle cars and drag racing on road course… it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Robinson, a native of San Antonio, has spent four years in pursuit of a TA2 victory.  While other accolades and hardware have come his way, a victory at Circuit of The Americas has proved elusive for the 2015 and 2017 TA2 champion who now competes in Trans-Am in part-time capacity.

“When we won Detroit, that was absolutely for my team,” said Robinson.  “Winning here, this is for me.  I’ve won Indy, I’ve won Detroit, I’ve won two championships… but this has been the one I’ve been trying to win throughout my Trans Am career and I’m thrilled we pulled it off.  I woke up with a good feeling about it this morning, and in the words of Matthew McConaughey, ‘all right, all right, all right.’”

The victory is the 11th of Robinson’s 42-start Trans-Am career, while the second place finish sets a new career best for Goikhberg in his fourth start.  Goikhberg’s finish is the second consecutive for the No. 25 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro, following up Tony Ave’s second place finish at Virginia Int’l Raceway last month.

Joining Robinson and Goikhberg on the podium was Dillon Machavern in third.  Machavern began the contest in 18th position but moved up to third by the 14th lap, Machavern would be passed by Brad McAllister on the 19th lap, but regained the position on the 27th for his 15th TA2 podium.

Racing amongst the TA2 field were members of the Trans-Am West Coast Championship, with Brad McAllister taking the TA2 West victory.

“It’s a nice bookend of West Coast wins,” said McAllister.  “I won the first ever West Coast TA2 race at Willow Springs and now, what I thought would be, the last West Coast win. But I’m glad to hear the West Coast will return in 2019.  It was fun to run together with the East, and I’m excited to do it again next year.  I was third overall right towards the end there, and I felt really good about the race.  Hopefully we’ll be back stronger next year!”