Two-time Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series champion Gar Robinson (No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro) captured the Motul Pole Award in his first start in the TA class with an impressive time of 2m04.993s in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli season finale at Circuit of The Americas on Saturday.
“You know, it’s really just awesome,” said Robinson. “I mean, the list [of great things about this weekend] is so long. I’m not just here with the Riley guys, but in their new car, at my home track, with all my friends and family around me this weekend. I don’t think I could name a better weekend. Some people ask if you can have too much dessert, and I don’t think so. This is like our version of too much dessert. We’re having a blast. Everyone’s just having a great time, and being on the pole is just one of the jobs completed. I have to see how it goes tomorrow and see if we can complete the rest of the jobs.”
Thomas Merrill (No. 26 Bennett/HP Tuners/Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang), who is attempting to come back from a 45-point deficit to win the championship, was the Motul Pole Award winner in the Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers TA2 Series, laying down a lap of 2m11.159s. Merrill won the pole at the track last year on his way to capturing his first-career title, which was a Hollywood comeback from an even bigger points disadvantage.
“You know it’s interesting, last year, we were really strong all the way through the weekend, but this year, we’ve had some struggles with some component failures and some issues through practice,” said Merrill. “So it’s a little bit of a come from behind story so far at this event, but I’ve got all the faith in the world. My guys always give me a good race car. When it mattered, we had a really, really good Bennett/HP Tuners Mustang. I’m just so happy to be on the pole. You know, what happens tomorrow is largely out of our hands, but our focus is just simple: win the race and go from there.”
XGT’s Will Rodgers (No. 32 Chris Evans Race Cars & Design Ford Mustang) earned the overall pole for Western Championship competitors in TA/XGT/SGT/GT time trials, qualifying third overall with a time of 2m06.4s. Rodgers has earned the pole in every Western Championship race he has competed in this year and has already clinched the West Coast’s XGT title.
“We’d love to be battling more XGT cars for the pole, but I think that will come in time as we keep debuting these Chris Evans rocket ships; these things are awesome,” said Rodgers. “You know, the big thing that we’re trying to do is show their capabilities and what’s possible in this series with equipment like this. To race against the TA guys and be keeping up with some of the fastest ones, and to be right on pace with Boris [Said] is really cool. It makes us feel good at Chris Evans Race Cars to know that we can compete. Hopefully tomorrow’s a good race, but ultimately, I’m just thankful to be here and I’m looking forward to finishing off the season strong.”
Brody Goble (No. 69 Brown Bros. Ford/Cortex Racing Ford Mustang) was the quickest of Western Championship competitors in Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers Series, qualifying with a time of 2m13.048s. Goble currently leads the TA2 standings for the Western Championship by 22 points.
“This weekend’s been going really well,” said Goble. “It’s a bit of a catch-22 here. Half of me is wanting to race against the National Championship guys and see how well we can do in our debut. It’s our first weekend racing with the National Championship. But I also know that I have to be smart and do whatever it takes to make sure that we win the championship. We have a little bit of a lead, but definitely not enough of a lead to forget about it. We’ve got to focus on that. I’m really proud of our team. Brown Bros. Racing is just a privateer team, and we have lots of help here. But at the end of the day, it is a one-car team and a West Coast team, and we’re still putting this all together. I’m super proud to be 12th overall here and first in the West Coast. I’ve never raced here at COTA before, so I have limited track time to figure it out, but I’m having a blast doing it.”
The season finale Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series race will be contested on Sunday, November 5 at 10:05 a.m. CT, followed by the TA/XGT/SGT/GT race at 1:10 p.m. CT.
The races will be streamed live here and broadcast live on MAVTV. The TV broadcast replay of the race will air on MAVTV on Thursday, November 9, with TA/XGT/SGT/GT airing at 8:00 p.m. ET, and the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series race airing at 9:00 p.m. ET.