Chris Dyson Wins Trans Am Title With VIR Victory
Chris Dyson kept his rivals’ woes in his rearview mirror Sunday at the Virginia International Raceway, heading for a flag-to-flag victory to tentatively win the 2021 Trans Am Series presented by the Pirelli TA Championship.
Driving the # 20 Ford Mustang CBD ALTWELL, Dyson earned his seventh win of the season and the 13th of his career to take an insurmountable lead in the season finale. Dyson won the ChillOut Moment of the Race for his moves that repelled Ernie Francis Jr. for the win.
“This race was amazing, and being named the champion hasn’t started yet, but I know it’s a huge relief,” said Dyson. “We managed to stay ahead and dominate, that’s the way to win.
“I’m just honored to be a part of the show,” Dyson continued. “This is one of the most historic and prestigious road racing series in North America, it enjoys worldwide recognition and superb seasoned competition. These are the fastest, badass cars out there, and I just want to thank God for my chance to race. Adding that to my other championship and becoming Trans Am champion is a dream come true. I hope my dad is proud of me.
Boris Said took second, 30.137 seconds behind the No.2 Dodge Challenger Weaver Racing / Technique / SRI.
“We just didn’t have anything for the best guys today,” said a beaten Said. “Pancho (Weaver) usually builds a great car, but today we only had a few issues with the rear of the car, maybe the suspension. But, this track, no matter where you are, is a pleasure to drive, especially this car. It wasn’t that fun to finish second, I really wanted to beat Chris (Dyson), but I guess second is OK.
Third place went to Ken Thwaits, who finished one lap behind the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro Franklin Road Apparel. The 2020 XGT champion, Thwaits also won the Masters and stepped onto the overall TA podium for the first time.
Alone in the end, Dyson had a lot of pressure for the first 20 laps.
Tomy Drissi finished second behind Dyson in the opening laps before making a series of four pitstops in the # 8 Lucas Oil Camaro as Burtin Racing tried to resolve an aerodynamic issue. At the fourth stop, Drissi got out of the car, ending his title hopes.
“I know we had the car to fight with Dyson today,” said Drissi, who entered the race 46 points behind. “We have just tackled this aerodynamic problem with the front end. We’re still pushing the aerodynamics, and they worked until midnight last night trying to fix it. It was a problem in qualifying, but we are generally doing well for the race. Yesterday it shook like crazy, but we thought we were right. It was right at the start of the race, I almost walked into Dyson at old Oak Tree. But we’ve had some bad luck this season, monumental failures.
Moments after Drissi’s exit, fourth-placed Simon Gregg slipped out of the rear pits, his race over in the No.59 Peter Gregg Foundation Chevrolet Camaro.
At that point, Francis Jr. battled in the # 98 Future Star Racing Ford Mustang, closing in half a second behind Dyson for the next twelve laps. Then, on lap 21, Dyson checked to avoid a overtaken car and Francis Jr. struck the rear of the Mustang ALTWELL CBD. Francis Jr. slowed down and went to the pits. He retired with the loss of his power steering cooler and accident damage, with his bid for an eighth consecutive Trans Am title officially over.
“Ernie was biding his time behind Chris,” said Ernie Francis Sr. “When coming up to meet traffic, someone wasn’t watching what they were doing in front of Chris. Chris locked his brakes and Junior had nowhere to go and walked into Chris.
The event turned yellow on lap four and will remain so for five laps when Matthew Butson exited the No. 24 Ave Motorsports Corvette on Turn 8.
Racing for the fourth time this season, 2020 SGT champion Lee Saunders claimed his first victory of the year in the No.84 Dodge Viper Landsearch LLC. Paul Fix, who was making his SGT debut in the No.29 Audi R8 of Ave Motorsports, took the lead in the second lap. Saunders returned the favor on Turn 1 on the resumption of Lap 9, going inside and taking the lead he held for the remainder of the event.
“It’s fantastic to be back,” said Saunders. “What a great day, we couldn’t ask for better. It was great to see the mix there. I had some great battles with Paul (Fix) and Milton (Grant) put him into high gear and was flying today. It was great fun to be back.
Milton Grant was second, 18.347 seconds behind the No.55 Sentry Self Storage / Fairfield Inn Porsche 991.1. Fix took third, followed by Carey Grant – Milton’s son – in the No.6 Grant Racing 2 Porsche 991 GT3 Cup.
It was Milton’s third consecutive podium and the third time in his career that he had finished second. He was also the winner of the Masters.
“I’m shocked – the crew told me I finished fifth overall, and it was amazing,” said Milton. “I was right there digging.”
VIR Weekend ends with the TA2 race at 3:35 p.m. ET. The final races of the 2021 national campaign will take place at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin from November 5 to 7. The Trans Am series presented by Pirelli West Coast Championship will hold its penultimate round at the Utah Motorsports Campus from October 8-10.
The entire VIR SpeedTour will be broadcast live on the Trans Am YouTube channel: VIR SpeedTour Sunday Afternoon Full Coverage (TA2 Race) – YouTube
Live Replay of Trans Am TA / SGT: VIR SpeedTour Sunday Morning Full Coverage (TA / SGT Race) – YouTube