Justin Marks drove his No. 99 Trackhouse/Jockey Chevrolet Camaro to GYM WEED Victory Circle for the third time this season, claiming his second-consecutive win at Watkins Glen International. Marks started the race from the pole position for the fifth time in 2023 and cruised to victory despite an early challenge for the lead by Boris Said, who was making his 100th start in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli.
At the wave of the green flag, Said in the No. 79 ECC/Anchor Bolt and Screw Dodge Challenger got an excellent start, passing polesitter Marks going into the very first turn of the race. Said led the event for the first three laps before Marks was able to pick him off. Once Marks reclaimed the lead, it was smooth sailing for the Showtime Motorsports driver. His lead only grew throughout the caution-free race despite strong competition from Said and Chris Dyson in the No. 16 GYM WEED Ford Mustang.
Said held onto the runner-up spot until lap 13, when he started to experience transmission issues. Dyson made his way around Said and into second place while Said’s Challenger slowed. A lap later, Said came to the pits and a transmission fan problem forced his retirement from his 100th event. This allowed Keith Grant in the No. 40 Showtime Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to take over the third spot, and Marks, Dyson and Grant crossed the finish line in that order to fill the podium.
Fifth-place starter David Pintaric in the No. 57 Kryderacing Ford Mustang and sixth-place starter Tomy Drissi in the No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford Mustang battled tightly for the fourth spot for the duration of the race. While Drissi was able to make the pass on Pintaric in the final laps, Pintaric fought his way back around him, earning him the COOLSHIRT Cool Move of the Race and the fourth finishing position. Drissi rounded out the top five.
“I want to make sure that these Showtime Motorsports guys get some credit and recognition because they worked really, really hard this weekend battling through some electrical problems,” said Marks. “They had to do a lot of work on the car to get a race car out of it. We always seem to get it right at the right time. I really want to recognize them and all their hard work. It was a good race; it was a drying track at the start of the race, so starting on pole, I didn’t really have the spot I wanted getting into Turn 1. Boris [Said] was able to drive in really deep and roll it outside in Turn 1 and got in front of me. Then we got to battling for a couple laps and I finally got by him and just could maintain a gap from there. I had a really great racecar, and it continues to get better.”
Dyson earned his seventh podium finish in a row. He has scored a podium finish at every race since NOLA Motorsports Park in March.
This was Boris Said’s 100th Trans Am Series race. He was presented with a trophy to commemorate the achievement during the post-race ceremonies.
“Hopefully, there will be a hundred more races left in me,” reflected Said. “What I remember most about my first start is that [Barbara Eden from] ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ said ‘Start your engines’ in 1993 at the Miami Grand Prix. I’ve been racing for 37 years and I just love it. I still feel like a little kid getting in these cars and racing with guys like Justin [Marks]; It’s just a blast. Hopefully, I’ll be racing for a few more years, but right now it’s more about watching my son race. Hopefully he kind of takes the ball.”
Danny Lowry in the No. 42 Bennett/BridgeHaul/Pitboxes.com Mercedes AMG GT3 and Ricky Sanders in the No. 18 BridgeHaul/Bennett Family of Companies Audi R8 LMS battled from start to finish in the XGT class. Even late into the event, the two were within a car length of each other, putting on an exciting show. Ultimately, Lowry took the victory with Sanders finishing just behind him.
“This race was a lot of fun,” said Lowry. “I knew Ricky [Sanders] would be tough. I really give a lot of credit to Ricky. He was fantastic. He kept the pressure on me the entire time and he made it a lot of fun. He got in the draft and I thought he was going to get me going through the bus stop a couple times, but I don’t know if he backed out or had mercy on me. That was all-out racing and I had a mirror full of Ricky. He did a fantastic job and he’s a good buddy of mine. I’d like to thank the Bennett Family of Companies, BridgeHaul, and Ricky Sanders Racing for all the help they give us.”
Lee Saunders in the No. 84 LandSearch LLC Dodge Viper could not be stopped by Josh Carlson in the No. 36 Enseva/TC Fab/Diercks Ltd. Ford Mustang. Saunders set the pace for the class and never relinquished the lead, scoring his fifth-consecutive SGT class victory.
“I’d like to first thank God for giving us no rain,” said Saunders. “I was a little worried we were going to have to start on rain tires, and that’s never a good thing in a Viper. Luckily, we had a dry line and we got through it. I want to thank Kevin with KSR. They’re the reason we get up here on the podium all the time. It’s just meticulous car prep by them; they’re awesome. All the competitors had a great time and there were some great battles. This is an absolutely fantastic track. Seeing the elevation changes for a flatlander Florida guy like me, this is really exciting. It’s a very good, very fast track. Thanks to Trans Am for putting this race on.”
Chris Coffey in the No. 97 Norwood Auto Italia/Traffic Grafix Maserati MC GT4 started the race first in the GT class, but immediately after the green flag, Michael Saia in the No. 13 KMC/Rabid Wraps/Rapid Performance Management Porsche GT3 Cup 997.1 sailed around him. However, Coffey was able to recover the lead and hold it for the remainder of the event. Saia had a strong run in second, but contact late in the race led to a broken transmission, forcing him to retire early. Michael Attaway in the No. 91 Bennett/BridgeHaul/Pitboxes.com Audi R8 finished second and Saia was relegated to third.
“I am incredibly thankful that the weather decided to hold out for us,” said Coffey. “I thought for sure that we were going to be starting on a completely wet track, but thankfully it was dry enough. It was a great race. This guy [Michael Saia] went straight past me on the start and I had to track him down, but I had an incredible race. I’d like to thank Colin and Nancy Cohen. They’re by far my biggest sponsors. They’re with me every step of the way, and I couldn’t do this without them. I’d also like to thank my crew; I couldn’t be here without those guys.”
The replay of Saturday’s race will air on MAVTV on Thursday, September 14 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
The Trans Am Series TA/XGT/SGT/GT classes return to the track in two weeks for the series’ first visit to World Wide Technology Raceway September 23 and 24.