Merrill victorious in Daytona TA2 thriller
The Trans Am Sequence introduced by Pirelli TA2-class season finale at Daytona Worldwide Speedway on Saturday was dramatic from begin to end.
After the mud settled with post-race critiques and technical inspections, Thomas Merrill (No. 99 Mike Cope Race Vehicles Ford Mustang) had scored his third TA2 powered by AEM victory of the season, whereas teammate Tony Buffomante (No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang) staged a powerful comeback to complete second forward of third-placed Dillon Machavern (No. 77 Liqui-Moly / Prefix Ford Mustang).
“The previous few laps have been fairly busy, fairly aggressive, however truthful — truthful each methods,” mentioned Merrill of his battle with teenaged polesitter Sam Mayer. “Our automotive was excellent, and I felt his automotive was excellent, so it was a (tight) race for the lead there on the finish.
“The Large Diehl Racing / Mike Cope Race Vehicles crew was unbelievable,” Merrill continued. “They gave me one of the best automotive within the discipline. It was my job to deliver it house in first place.”
Sixteen-year-old NASCAR Ok&N champion Sam Mayer (No. 92 SLR / Fields Racing / M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro) began on pole, however it was Merrill who shot to the entrance of the pack at the beginning forward of 2018 TA2 champ Rafa Matos and 2019 TA2 champion-elect Mark Miller. Buffomante rapidly slotted in to 3rd as Mayer regarded to maneuver up from fourth.
Below braking for Flip 1, Mayer and Buffomante made contact, sending the No. 34 Mustang again down the order to 24th. Mayer was issued a drive-through penalty and fell again to eighth.
Merrill constructed a seven-second lead earlier than particles on the monitor pressured the primary of 4 warning intervals and grouped the sector again up. Each Miller and Jacob Mosler (No. 17 SLR / Fields Racing / M1Racecars Chevrolet Camaro) fell sufferer to the flying wreckage. Miller pitted to alter two flat tires and continued; Mosler wasn’t as fortunate and his day ended with a pierced transmission.
On the restart, Merrill held off the difficult Matos for the lead. Once more constructing his lead, Merrill’s hole was erased as soon as once more after one other full course yellow following a mechanical problem that ended Matos’ sturdy run.
After a pair of back-to-back cautions, Mayer caught Merrill following a late restart and the 2 swapped the lead a number of occasions. Mayer made his last bid coming into the NASCAR oval on the 26th lap, however a two-car incident on the entrance straight led to a race-ending warning as Merrill closed out his 2019 season on a excessive observe.
Following post-race inspections, Mayer’s entry was discovered to be out of compliance and was disqualified from the race.
Buffomante’s sturdy drive via the sector following his early incident rewarded him with third, later promoted to second. The run was Buffomante’s Trans Am swan tune, because the five-year veteran driver will step away from competitors cross the torch to his 11-year-old son who is continuous the household custom and pursuing a racing profession.
“He (Mayer) simply drove proper via us,” Buffomante defined. “At a monitor like Daytona, a drive-through penalty will not be sufficiently big — particularly whenever you get a warning. These guys simply drive proper again up there.
“It was unlucky for us. We had a very good automotive, however I spent a bunch of time backwards after I spun out. Then I needed to work again via the pack. I’d have preferred the final couple of laps to not be run underneath the warning; I believe we might have made it fascinating. We have been hoping for one more win right here, however it was nice to finish up on the rostrum. ”
Lawless Alan (No. 52 AutoParkIT Ford Mustang), the 19-year-old TA2 Rookie of the Yr, completed fourth after an early pit cease to repair free wiring whereas Misha Goikhberg (No. 10 BC Race Vehicles Chevrolet Camaro) took fifth.
Miller, after hitting particles, ran fifth earlier than retiring late within the race because of a coolant leak.
“This was not the best way we wished to finish the season,” mentioned Miller. “Our automotive was very, excellent. We had contact in the beginning of the race that put us again. Then we have been in a position to placed on a very good displaying. I had a very good automotive till I discovered myself driving in my very own antifreeze. I assumed it may need been a tire, however then I noticed the temperature gauge.
“I received hit a number of occasions, however it was enjoyable.”
The displaying at Daytona Worldwide Speedway closed out the 53rd Trans Am Sequence season. The sequence returns to motion Feb. 29-March 1, 2020 at Sebring Worldwide Raceway.
TA2 OFFICIAL RESULTS