Marks wins at Lime Rock, breaks CD Racing win streak

Justin Marks overcame multiple mechanical challenges on his way to victory in the Memorial Day Classic, where he broke Chris Dyson’s three-race winning streak at CD Racing’s home track of Lime Rock Park. After starting the race seventh, Marks drove through the field to earn his first win of 2023 in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli.

Matthew Brabham in the No. 20 GYM WEED Ford Mustang started from the pole after a record-breaking lap in qualifying and started side-by-side with CD Racing owner Dyson in the No. 16 GYM WEED Ford Mustang. Marks started the weekend at Lime Rock by topping the speed charts in practice, but his No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet Camaro required an engine change after the session and then broke a rotor in qualifying, putting him seventh overall for the green flag.

Brabham got off to a solid start when the race began, but by lap two, Dyson was able to make the pass for the lead, taking control of the race. Marks was also on the move, advancing to fourth by lap two, then taking over the third position on lap four. The two CD Racing cars had opened up quite a gap in front of Marks, but with consistently faster lap times, Marks began to chip away at their lead each lap. However, the gap opened up one more time when Marks went wide and put a tire off the racing surface on lap 18, leaving him to once again need forward progress to get within striking range.


On lap 28, Brabham make the same mistake as Marks, and when he went too wide, Marks was able to pounce, getting around the No. 20. Marks set his sights on Dyson’s bumper, and after hitting his marks on the next three laps, he was breathing down the 2022 champion’s neck.

Lapped traffic began to hold up Dyson, and on lap 32, Marks made his move to take over the point position. With the race less than halfway complete, Marks was holding off Dyson and opened up a three-second gap over second place by lap 42. Unfortunately, Tomy Drissi in the No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford Mustang, who had been laying down impressive laps in the fourth position, missed a corner and went off track, burying his car in the tire barrier. Drissi emerged from his car safely, but a lengthy red flag followed to allow for cleanup and wall repair.

Racing resumed on lap 47, and the restart would be key to determining who would ultimately prevail at Lime Rock. Marks pulled off a flawless restart and once again made consistently fast lap times, creating an insurmountable gap in the final 13 laps. He crossed the finish line to earn his first victory of the season, followed by Dyson and Brabham nine seconds behind him.

Behind the trio, David Pintaric in the No. 57 Kryderacing Ford Mustang and Amy Ruman in the No. 23 McNichols Co. Corvette had an impassioned battle the entire race, but Ruman experienced trouble with three laps to go, giving Pintaric the fourth position while Ruman was scored fifth in class. On the cooldown lap, Marks celebrated his win with a NASCAR-style victory burnout.

“Winning feels good,” said Marks. “You know, we were on pole the first two races, so it’s been a good start to the year, but we weren’t able to translate either of those into wins. It’s so good to get the win today. My crew had to work a lot harder than they signed up for this weekend, having to replace a motor after first practice and a rotor after qualifying. It’s nice to reward those guys with a win. It was tricky; both of the CD Racing cars were fast and I had to really use lapped traffic to try to get by them. I think in a straight-up dog fight it would have been tricky to get around them. I’m so proud of my team and all these guys, and I’m so glad to be here in victory circle at Lime Rock.”

Marks’ win today breaks a five-race win streak for CD Racing. Between Dyson and Brabham, the team had won every race since Virginia International Raceway last November until the series’ last outing at Road Atlanta. The victory also breaks Dyson’s three-race winning streak in the Memorial Day Classic.

Marks was the last driver to defeat the Dyson teammates when he scored his win at Watkins Glen International last fall in the race before CD Racing’s streak began.

Dyson, Brabham and the CD Racing team are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Dyson’s family team, Dyson Racing, which debuted at Lime Rock Park in 1983.

Following his hard impact, Drissi spoke to the crowd of fans at Lime Rock Park.

“I want to thank the response team that got me out of the car safely today,” said Drissi. “I was having a great race, and I was trying to run the kinds of laps that I would need to run if we got closed up with a caution. I was just trying to go too fast and cooked it too hard. The incident was all on me. I hate that we wrecked the car, but I’m so grateful to all the fans, crew members and track officials who checked to make sure I was okay.”

TA Top Five:
1. Justin Marks, No. 99 Trackhouse Chevrolet Camaro
2. Chris Dyson, No. 16 GYM WEED Ford Mustang
3. Matthew Brabham, No. 20 GYM WEED Ford Mustang
4. David Pintaric, No. 57 Kryderacing Ford Mustang
5. Amy Ruman, No. 23 McNichols Co. Chevrolet Corvette

TA Masters Award:
Kerry Hitt, No. 22 Advanced Composite Products Inc. Chevrolet Camaro

COOLSHIRT Cool Move of the Race:
Justin Marks, No. 99 Trackhouse Chevrolet Camaro

In XGT, Danny Lowry in the No. 42 Bennett/BridgeHaul/ Mercedes AMG GT3 was the class of the field for much of the race, but a mistake on the final restart took him off the track and out of contention for the race win. Nathan Byrd in the No. 88 Sonesta/Tilson/Hopegivers Porsche 911.1 GT3 Cup and Randy Hale in the No. 31 Hale Motorsports/Marsh Racing Corvette had been battling each other fiercely for the entire race, but the battle became a bit too aggressive when Hale made intentional contact with Byrd in order to pass him. Hale went on to cross the finish line first but received a 25-second penalty for avoidable contact. He was dropped to third in class, with Byrd named the class victor, followed by Lowry.

“This race was pretty crazy, and my dad was doing a really great job helping me be aware of my surroundings,” said Byrd. “I was making progress through the field and was able to move up to second, and eventually on the restart, Danny [Lowry] kind of took himself out. I felt bad for him because he was running a really, really good race, and I don’t think we were going to catch back up to him if that hadn’t happened. Me and Randy [Hale] had a little bit of contact. I can’t thank the fans enough, and I want to thank God for this awesome Memorial Day and thank the troops that gave the last measure for us.”

XGT Results:
1. Nathan Byrd, No. 88 Sonesta/Tilson/Hopegivers Porsche 911.1 GT3 Cup
2. Danny Lowry, No. 42 Bennett/BridgeHaul/ Mercedes AMG GT3
3. Randy Hale, No. 31 Hale Motorsports/Marsh Racing Chevrolet Corvette

The SGT class had a smooth competition, with Lee Saunders in the No. 44 LandSearch LLC Dodge Viper leading from flag-to-flag. Ricky Sanders in the No. 18 BridgeHaul/Bennett/ Corvette was never far behind, but was unable to catch the leader, ultimately finishing second. The victory for Saunders was his first back in his Dodge Viper, which he had to replace with a graciously loaned competitor’s car at Road Atlanta due to mechanical issues.

“It’s good to be back in the Viper,” said Saunders. “I feel more comfortable in it, but, obviously, we appreciate that we were able to get by without it and I appreciate Ricky [Sanders] running us cleanly today. I want to thank God for a great day here. It’s super exciting to see all the fans out on this wonderful day. Thank you to all our veterans and everybody who has died to make this country great and free. Never forget the sacrifices they’ve made.”

SGT Results:
1. Lee Saunders, No. 44 LandSearch LLC Dodge Viper
2. Ricky Sanders, No. 18 BridgeHaul/Bennett/ Porsche 991.1

Michael Saia in the No. 13 KMC/RabidWraps/Rapid Performance Management Porsche GT3 Cup 997.1 started the race first in class and was able to stay there due to Michael Attaway in the No. 91 Bennett/BridgeHaul/ Audi R8 having mechanical issues which repeatedly brought him into the pits.

“Well, it didn’t rain, which is always a plus,” said Saia. “It was a great race today. Thanks to Trans Am, thanks to my competitor, and to KMC for setting up the car. They did a great job as always. Rabid Wraps did a crazy wrap on the car and we love it. Thanks to everyone for coming out.”

GT Results:
1. Michael Saia, No. 13 KMC/Rabid Wraps/Rapid Performance Management Porsche GT3 Cup 997.1
2. Michael Attaway, No. 91 Bennett/BridgeHaul/ Audi R8

Serck Precision Award
Michael Saia, No. 13 KMC/Rabid Wraps/Rapid Performance Management Porsche GT3 Cup 997.1

The broadcast of today’s race will air on MAVTV on Thursday, June 1 at 9:00pm ET.

The Trans Am Series TA/XGT/SGT/GT classes return to the track June 15-17 with a standalone event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


Story originally appeared on Racer