SEBRING, Fla. [March 5, 2017] – Dillon Machavern secured his fourth career TA2 class victory today at Sebring International Raceway as the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli held its opening round of the 2017 season.
Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, began the race in pole position and would lead the 29-car TA2 field for the entirety of the race, navigating a full-course caution, red flag and ensuing restarts— all while withstanding heavy pressure from Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, who started second and also maintained his position throughout the race. Machavern becomes the first driver to secure a TA2 victory on the class’ new purpose built Pirelli P ZERO™ tires now used on every TA2 car.
“That was one of the toughest races I’ve ever run,” said Machavern. “It may have looked easy running out front, but losing your rhythm right in the middle of the race with a yellow that led to a red flag after a restart is really hard. Just having to lead the whole thing is tough too, especially when you have the two Ranch cars (Robinson and Lewis) behind you, which are always really fast and competitive. The car was hooked up all weekend; we made really minimal changes. The new Pirelli tires were amazing, I don’t think anybody really knew what to expect from them over the long run because no one had run a really long stint on them since practice was so short. But they held up great. I really have to thank the Mike Cope crew for giving me an awesome car and my parents for giving me the great opportunity to come out here and run.”
Machavern led the field for an initial 12 laps of green racing before going under yellow for four laps after the No. 23 of Curt Vogt made a hard impact into the tire wall in turn 17. While Vogt was uninjured, the wall required extensive repairs, keeping the field under yellow. The TA2 field would restart on lap 18, but an incident in the final third of the field underneath the bridge leading into turn six led to multiple cars being stopped on course. Control immediately issued a red flag and brought the remainder of the field into pit lane; no drivers were injured in the incident.
The race would restart once more with Machavern fending off a three-wide challenge from Robinson and his Robinson Racing teammate Shane Lewis, in the No. 72 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, going into turn one. Over the remaining four laps under green, Machavern was able to maintain a thin lead before crossing the checkered flag with 24 laps completed of the initially planned 27 due to time constraints. Throughout the process, Machavern remained cool behind the wheel, despite the challenge of running upfront.
“Any racer will always tell you it’s hard to set the pace and run up front the whole time,” said Machavern. “You’re always trying to strike that balance of doing enough, but not too much. You can get in your own head a little bit when you’re doing that, but I don’t really let the pressure get to me. I’ve got four wins now; I’m used to running up there and I knew we’d had a great car all weekend—that helps give you the confidence you need.”
Gar Robinson and Shane Lewis would finish second and third. In his efforts, Robinson also turned the fast lap of the race, a new track record 2:08.624, easily surpassing his own track record 2:10.429 from last year. For the two-three finish, Robinson Racing was awarded the PitBoxes.com Crew of the Race Award and Crew Chief Jimmy Fraser was awarded the TraqGear Crew Chief of the Race award.
Finishing fourth was Cameron Lawrence, in the No. 19 Class Auto Center Chevrolet Camaro, who began the race in third position but fell back to fifth early on due to a loose front camber shim but was able to manage the car for the remainder of the race, even gaining a position on the final restart.
Defending TA2 champ Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Bestline Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang, would finish fifth, also making the most of the final restart— moving up from seventh to fifth position.
The TA2 top ten also included Louis-Phillippe Montour, in the No. 13 Montour Ltd. Chevrolet Camaro, Jordan Bernloehr , in the No. 77 ProKart Indoors Dodge Challenger, Scott Lagasse, Jr., in the No. 17 Team SLR Chevrolet Camaro, Lawrence Loshak, in the No. 9 Pennzoil/ ETE Reman Chevrolet Camaro, and Ron Keith, in the No. 25 BC Race Cars/ ArborMasters Chevrolet Camaro.
TA2 will return to the track at Homestead-Miami on April 9th for Round 2 of the 2017 Trans Am Championship presented by Pirelli