CD Racing once again took the checkered flag in round two of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli at NOLA Motorsports Park, with the team earning its second 1-2 finish of 2023. This time, it was team owner and two-time champion Chris Dyson who claimed the victory in his No. 16 GYM WEED Ford Mustang, besting teammate Matt Brabham, who finished a close second.
Justin Marks earned his second-consecutive Motul Pole Award of the season in his No. 99 Trackhouse Chevrolet Camaro and led the field to green for a wild first lap. The top three cars fanned out after the wave of the green flag, and second-place starter Brabham overtook Marks in the first turn. Marks, whose car was locking up in the opening corners, made unintentional contact with Brabham’s No. 20 GYM WEED Mustang in an attempt to retake the lead, bumping him back into the third position, with Dyson taking over second.
A few turns later, Marks locked up once again, missing a corner and driving off course. While he was able to get rolling and return to the track, he resumed racing in last place, with Dyson inheriting the point position. Once Dyson had the lead, there was no catching him, and he led second-place Brabham for the remainder of the 37-lap race.
Behind the CD Racing teammates, Amy Ruman (No. 23 McNichols Co. Corvette), David Pintaric (No. 57 Kryderacing Ford Mustang) and Tomy Drissi (No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford Mustang) battled for the third position. Pintaric took over third on lap six, and then Ken Thwaits joined the fray, fighting for fourth with Ruman and Drissi in his No. 7 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro. Impressively, Marks fought his way through the entire field, overtaking the closely-packed group of cars one at a time and taking over third place on lap 19.
Just one lap later, in an attempt to pass Ruman, Drissi made contact with both her and XGT competitor Matt Crandall, causing front-end damage to his car which eventually forced him to retire from the race. Drissi was also tagged with a penalty for avoidable contact and docked 40s, resulting in a seventh-in-class finish. Marks put down blazing fast laps in an attempt to catch Dyson and Brabham, but without a caution to close the field, he remained a distant third. Pintaric ultimately scored the fourth position, followed by Thwaits.
“This feels great. I can’t quite process it,” said Dyson. “It was a hard day; it was hot going flag-to-flag like that. You’ve got to pace yourself, and I knew Justin (Marks) was coming back. You can’t let up in these Trans Am races; it’s a flat-out sprint the whole way. You’ve got to look after yourself and your car, but that GYM WEED energy really helped me out. We rallied back after a tough one for us at Sebring, but here we are again — another 1-2 — and we’re back in the championship. I think it’s going to be a tremendous season for all of us in Trans Am this year. Let’s go!”
Dyson’s win was the 20th of his Trans Am career, which ties him with Ron Fellows for sixth on the all-time TA win list.
CD Racing has won both races of 2023 and is on a four-race winning streak, which began at VIRginia International Raceway last year. Both Dyson and Brabham have two victories each in that streak.
In his seven starts in the Trans Am Series, Matt Brabham has finished no worse than second, with an average finish of 1.4.
TA Masters Award:
Ken Thwaits, No. 7 Franklin Road Apparel Chevrolet Camaro
COOLSHIRT Cool Move of the Race:
Justin Marks, No. 99 Trackhouse Chevrolet Camaro
In XGT, Matt Crandall started first in class and led for more than half the race, but he unfortunately received some damage from another competitor and was forced to retire after 21 laps. 2022 XGT Western Championship title winner Chris Evans took over the lead and earned the victory in his first National Championship race.
“Matt is way better,” Evans laughed in Victory Lane. “My coolant cut out about two-thirds through, my shift knob broke off, and I lost my aim. Luckily for me, Matt had an incident that precluded him from finishing, and I’m here just the same. This race was about survival. I want to thank Central Welding Supply, my primary sponsor, and Jeff Jefferson and his crew. They’re awesome. I really want to thank Matt for the coaching and help. I think my lap times were a little better after talking with him. Altogether, we’re here.”
Ricky Sanders led the SGT class from green flag to checkers in an impressive run at NOLA, followed by 2022 SGT champion Milton Grant. Lee Saunders, who was hoping to earn the class win for his birthday, unfortunately suffered from an overheating issue the entire race and was forced to retire early, relegating him to third.
“It was a learning experience this whole weekend,” said Sanders on the podium. “This was a brand-new track to us, I’ve never been here before, and I’ve only driven this car once before for about 10-15 minutes. I’ve got to thank my crew guys; I’ve got three great crew guys who help me at the shop and at the track. I’ve really got to thank Danny Lowry with BridgeHaul and Bennett. I had a car I put together for this year and lost a motor in testing. He said, ‘Here, drive my Porsche.’ Then I wound up with pneumonia the weekend of Sebring, so I missed that race. He still said, ‘That car is sitting there, ready to go.’ So, we brought it out here and we’re going to take it to Road Atlanta to see what we’ve got there.”
Michael Attaway, who returned to the No. 91 Bennett/BridgeHaul/Pitboxes.com Audi R8 after illness kept him of the car at Sebring, ran a clean race and earned both the class win and GT Masters Award. This is the second GT win in a row for the No. 91 car, which was piloted to victory by Tyler Hoffman in the season opener.
“These TA guys all kept their distance and got around me real good, and that was the important thing” said Attaway. “We didn’t wreck, we didn’t crash. I want to thank Ricky Sanders Racing, Pitboxes.com, my wife, who lets me come out here and have a little fun, and Trans Am — they’ve done great.”
The broadcast of today’s race will air on MAVTV on Thursday, March 16 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
The Trans Am Series returns to the track March 23-26 at Road Atlanta for the Mission Foods Atlanta SpeedTour.