Complete Results: Rafa Matos Wins Trans Am Series TA2 Opener at Sebring
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Rafa Matos experienced at least a bit of redemption at the 2023 Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers TA2 Series season opener at Sebring International Raceway.
After ending 2022 with a heartbreaking loss of the championship—finishing in a tie with Thomas Merrill, but losing the best-finishes tiebreaker—he opened up the new year by crossing the finish line first in his No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang, earning his third-career win at the Florida track.
Merrill, who won the title on the last race of the season a year ago, finished eighth at Sebring to start the 2023 campaign.
After winning the pole in Friday's qualifying session, Connor Mosack brought the field to green in his No. 28 Open Eyes/SLR-M1 Race Cars Ford Mustang. While he was being chased by the two Peterson Racing cars of Austin Green and Matos, Mosack appeared untouchable, leading the first 19 laps of the 27-lap event. Unfortunately, Mosack experienced wheel hop and got loose following a restart, allowing Green to take the lead in his No. 89 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang.
As Mosack dropped to third, Matos followed closely behind his teammate until the opportunity struck on the next lap to make the pass for the lead. Just one lap later, with Matos in the lead, two competitors made hard contact in Turn 16, requiring extensive cleanup. With too much cleanup before the laps wound down, Matos received the checkered flag under yellow conditions, claiming his third season-opening win at the track.
“Yeah baby!” yelled Matos in victory lane. “Losing the championship last year in the last race and on a tiebreaker was pretty disappointing for our team, and we had a lot of time to think about it. The 3-Dimensional Services Group team did a fantastic job building four brand-new race cars over the off-season; the cars are very fast.
"I’m very proud of every single member of the team, and very proud of (team owner) Doug Peterson. I want to thank every person that supported us, directly and indirectly, and my family, especially my wife and daughter. I’m just a happy camper right now.”
The win continued a run of success for Matos, who has never finished worse than third in five career Trans Am starts at Sebring.
Rafa Matos, No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang
Austin Green, No. 89 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang
Connor Mosack, No. 28 Open Eyes/SLR-M1 Race Cars Ford Mustang
Brent Crews, No. 70 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang
Evan Slater, No. 6 Franklin Road Apparel Chevrolet Camaro
TA2 Masters Award
Doug Peterson, No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang
TA2 Pro/Am Winner
Doug Winston, No. 98 Bring Back The Trades/D&M Electric Ford Mustang
The broadcast of the race will air on MAVTV on Thursday, March 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET.