Watkins Glen, NY - May 14-15
Under frigid conditions and as snow flurries began to fall at Watkins Glen International (WGI), Dillon Machavern powered the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang across the finish line, capturing a victory in the TA2, powered by AEM, Classic Tube 100, Round 3 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship.
Machavern began the day in second position alongside pole sitter and teammate Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34, as a part of the Mike Cope Race Cars team top four qualifying sweep over a field of 27 TA2 cars. Due to the conditions and concern for driver safety the field took an additional lap behind the pace car allowing drivers to get engine temperatures up and put some heat in the tires. On the first green flag lap, Machavern overtook Buffomante heading into the Boot to take the lead—one he would not relinquish for the remainder of the race. Machavern settled into a rhythm and controlled the pace of the race and led all but one lap of the race, and all green laps despite early challenges from teammates Justin Haley in the No. 99 and Lawrence Loshak in the No. 5, defending TA2 champ Gar Robinson and, on the final laps, rookie Louis-Philippe (LP) Montour.
The win marked his second consecutive podium of the year and second victory of his Trans Am career. The win also breaks what, previously to his podium trip last round at Road Atlanta, had been a streak of poor luck for Machavern and the No. 24. The streak almost continued by a test day incident that left the No. 24 in poor shape resembling a jigsaw puzzle. Machavern's credits teamwork and the incredible efforts of the crew for getting the car back on track.
"It's great to get the monkey off my back," said Machavern. "It seems like we've had just terrible luck since mid-season last year. To come race at The Glen and lead every green lap was pretty awesome. This crew worked incredibly hard; we had a little issue in testing at the start of the weekend, blew a tire, took the nose off the car—they were able to get the car back out for the second test session which proved pivotal for us. From then on, the car just ran so well; so thanks to the guys at Mike Cope and Flowtech for giving me an incredible car—great equipment makes my job easy."
The final laps of the 102-mile, 30 lap race around the 3.40 mile Grand Prix Course proved to be the fastest of the race for Machavern, who set a new track record of 1:52.828.
"LP was charging those last few laps," said Machavern. "TA2 is probably one of the most competitive classes in America right now, and it keeps growing and going strong. The way the class is set up makes for really competitive racing, and it brings talent and the preparation of the car to the forefront of racing."
Joining Machavern on the podium were Montour in the No. 77 Dodge and Robinson, in the No. 74 Camara. The TA2 top five was completed by Loshak, in the No. 5, and Bernloehr, in the No. 07.
Machavern leaves Watkins Glen with 63 points to his name, moving up to fourth in the TA2 Championship.
For their efforts restoring Machavern's car this weekend, the Mike Cope Racing Enterprises team was award the PitBoxes.com Crew of the Race.
"Everyone at Mike Cope helped make this win happen," said Machavern. "They're all really professional and always know exactly what they're doing; and with a little luck on our side, I think together we'll have a good shot at getting that championship this year."
TA2 will return to the track at The Weekend of Thunder, presented by MPT Industries on June 11-12 at New Jersey Motorsports Park.