Trans Am heads for Mid-Ohio

The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli returns to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a track which has hosted the series for 48 races since it opened in 1968. This weekend, competitors will face a brand-new racing surface, as the facility underwent a complete repave over the winter months. At this weekend’s Mid-Ohio SpeedTour, expect teams to have to go back to the drawing board with their notebooks for this historic track, while cars make record-breaking laps on the new, smooth surface.

TA schedule:

Saturday, June 22
3:40-4:15 p.m. ET

Sunday, June 23
12:40-1:55 p.m. ET
Race Length: 45 Laps/75 Minutes


TV Broadcast:

Highlights Show:
Thursday, June 27
9:00 p.m. ET

TA2 schedule:

Friday, June 21
4:50-5:25 p.m. ET

Saturday, June 22
12:40-1:55 p.m. ET
Race Length: 45 Laps/75 Minutes

TV Broadcast:

Highlights Show:
Thursday, June 27
8:00 p.m. ET

Two drivers on this weekend’s entry list call the state of Ohio home. Both drivers are from within two hours of the Lexington, Ohio facility, but Amy Ruman’s hometown of Stow, Ohio is closest to the track.

Amy Ruman, No. 23 McNichols Co./Valley Automotive Chevrolet Corvette (Stow)

Matt Tifft, No. 52 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang (Cleveland)

There are nine drivers on this weekend’s entry list who have previously stood on the top step of the podium in the Trans Am Series at Mid-Ohio. Rafa Matos has the most victories at the track of anyone entered this weekend, tallying three wins. Adam Andretti, who earned a CUBE 3 Architecture TA2 Series victory in 2014, is pulling double duty this weekend, competing in both TA and TA2.

Past winners at Mid-Ohio

Wally Dallenbach, No. 4 Ultimate Headers Ford Mustang: 2023 (TAH), 1985
Chris Dyson, No. 16 GYM WEED Ford Mustang: 2023, 2021
Adam Andretti, No. 44 Top Liner/Go Share Chevrolet Camaro: 2014 (TA2)

Milton Grant, No. 55 Springhill Suites/Sentry Self Storage Porsche 991.1: 2022
Lee Saunders, No. 84 LandSearch LLC Dodge Viper: 2023, 2014

Chris Coffey, No. 97 Norwood Auto Italia/Traffic Grafix Maserati MC GT4: 2023

Thomas Merrill, No. 26 HP Tuners/Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang: 2022, 2020
Rafa Matos, No. 60 Concord American Flagpole/Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang: 2023, 2021, 2018
Adam Andretti, No. 41 Ultimate Headers Chevrolet Camaro: 2014
Doug Peterson, No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang: 2014 (TA)

TA: Menard going for three in a row
Paul Menard (No. 3 Menards/Masterforce Tools Ford Mustang) is on a roll, earning his second-consecutive win and third victory of the season in Trans Am’s last event at Pittsburgh International Race Complex. Menard put on a clinic at Pitt Race, dominating the TA class and extending his lead in the standings to a 27-point advantage over second-place Chris Dyson. Although Menard does not have any experience racing at Mid-Ohio in Trans Am or NASCAR, his team owner, Paul Gentilozzi, is well-versed on how to get to victory lane there, as he’s scored three wins at the track during his driving career in 1998, 1999 and 2001.

Odds in Dyson’s favor
Three-time champion Chris Dyson (No. 16 GYM WEED Ford Mustang) comes into Mid-Ohio with one thing that Paul Menard doesn’t have: a plethora of experience. Dyson has six Trans Am starts at the track and has finished on the podium in each of the last five races at Mid-Ohio, tallying victories at the track in 2021 and 2023. Dyson’s familiarity at the track goes beyond the TA class. He has competed at Mid-Ohio 10 times in the American Le Mans Series, earning an overall victory in 2010 in the LMP class. He also competed in his very first SCCA Runoffs and first NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Ohio facility, in addition to making two starts there in GT World Challenge America. With a frustrating start to the 2024 season so far, Dyson hopes to turn things around on the strength of his experience at Mid-Ohio and score his second win of year.

Ruman seeking home track win
Two-time TA champion Amy Ruman (No. 23 McNichols Co./Valley Automotive Group Chevrolet Corvette) is feeling at home this weekend at Mid-Ohio, which is located less than 90 miles from her hometown of Stow, Ohio. Currently fifth in the point standings, Ruman has made 13 starts at her home track, but has never made it to the top step of the podium at Mid-Ohio, earning a best finish of second at the track in 2012. Ruman recently welcomed back associate sponsor Valley Automotive Group, an Ohio-based car and truck dealership network.

DeGaynor looking to celebrate
Jon DeGaynor (No. 04 Speed Dream’n Racing Ford Mustang) is celebrating his birthday with his second start of the 2024 season. DeGaynor, who turns 58 on Saturday, is no stranger to Victory Lane at Mid-Ohio, as he’s scored previous victories at the track in SVRA. The TA Pick Six competitor made his Trans Am Series debut in the season opener at Sebring International Raceway earlier this season, finishing sixth in class. DeGaynor also has local ties to the area. He recently retired as CEO of Stoneridge, Inc., which is located just a few miles away from the Lexington track.

Coffey is piping hot
GT competitor Chris Coffey (No. 97 Norwood Auto Italia/Traffic Grafix Maserati MC GT4) comes into this weekend’s race with multiple previous victories at Mid-Ohio. Coffey won at Mid-Ohio last year in his first-ever start at the track, and has also taken the checkered flag at the facility in SCCA and IGT. Coffey is brewing a nearly perfect season so far, winning four out of five events this year. His most recent victory at Pitt Race may be his most impressive, as he stood atop the podium after working through the night to repair his teammate and sponsor Colin Cohen’s No. 38 Norwood Auto Italia/Traffic Grafix Maserati MC GT4 after Cohen crashed in practice.

Welcome back Jack
A GT class competitor will be making his first start of the 2024 season this weekend at Mid-Ohio. Jack Rinke (No. 12 Ed Rinke Chevrolet/Chevrolet Performance Camaro) is making his season debut in the Pro/Am Pick Six Challenge, joining Colin Cohen (No. 38 Norwood Auto Italia/Traffic Grafix Maserati MC GT4) as this week’s competitors in the Pick Six points race.

TA2: Matos leads at halfway
Rafa Matos (No. 60 Concord American Flagpole/Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang) continued his dominance in the CUBE 3 Architecture TA2 Series in the most recent event at Pitt Race, earning his 23rd-career win and second-consecutive victory. With six of 12 rounds complete, Matos has won three TA2 races so far this season and is the only driver in the class to have achieved multiple victories. He currently leads the TA2 standings with a 62-point advantage over teammate Thomas Annunziata (No. 90 Bayshore Mortgage/The Decorators Unlimited Ford Mustang).

Matos’ victory was the fourth-straight win for his team, Nitro Motorsports, which has occupied 11 of 18 possible podium spots so far in 2024. With Nitro driver Ben Maier in fourth, the team currently holds three of the top-four positions in the point standings, with the only spoiler being 2022 champion Thomas Merrill (No. 26 HP Tuners/Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang) in third.

Maier a past winner
Already a winner this season at World Wide Technology Raceway, Ben Maier (No. 80 BOE Marine/Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang) already knows what it takes to visit Victory Lane at Mid-Ohio. The 15-year-old swept both races in the Spec Miata doubleheader at the track in 2022. Maier also has experience racing in Stadium Super Trucks at the track, finishing third in his debut with the series that same year.

Maier recently ticked off one other accomplishment. He completed his first year of high school, finishing the ninth grade in his hometown of Chester, Md. He plans to spend time closer to his Nitro Motorsports team in Mooresville, N.C. this summer.

Double duty drivers
The Trans Am Series will be joined at this weekend’s Mid-Ohio SpeedTour by the ARCA Menards Series, and four CUBE 3 Architecture TA2 Series drivers will be pulling double duty, competing in the stock car series race on Friday night. Gio Ruggiero (No. 40 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang), Connor Mosack (No. 57 Silver Hare Racing/PRG Chevrolet Camaro), Brent Crews (No. 70 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang) and Thomas Annunziata (No. 90 Bayshore Mortgage/The Decorators Unlimited Ford Mustang) will all be logging 95 additional miles of racing this weekend.

All four drivers have previous ARCA experience with impressive results. Mosack has two victories in the series, winning at Kansas Speedway in both 2023 and 2024. Crews also tallied an ARCA win at the Illinois State Fairgrounds last year.

In just three ARCA starts, Ruggiero has earned two second-place finishes, and comes into this weekend after earning a third-place result at last weekend’s race at Iowa Speedway. Annunziata made his ARCA debut in this year’s season opener at Daytona International Speedway, finishing second.

A Herne return
This weekend’s race will mark the return of two-time TA2 Australia champion Nathan Herne to the CUBE 3 Architecture TA2 Series. Herne made his United States Trans Am debut in the 2022 season finale at Circuit of The Americas, finishing fourth in his first-career start. He went on to compete full time in 2023, earning three podium finishes. This weekend, Herne will pilot the No. 15 Howe Racing/F.A.S.T. Auto Racing Chevrolet Camaro for Adrian Wlostowski’s team. Herne finished sixth in his one and only start at Mid-Ohio last year. The “Lismore Bullet” recently made his debut in Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. The 21-year-old continues to race in TA2 Australia, and currently sits sixth in the standings.

More happy returns
In addition to Nathan Herne, the CUBE 3 Architecture TA2 Series will see the return of a few other familiar faces this weekend:

2023 TA2 champion Brent Crews (No. 70 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang) returns for his second start of the 2024 season. Crews most recently raced at World Wide Technology Raceway, finishing second to Nitro Motorsports teammate Ben Maier.

Last year’s TA2 Rookie of the Year, Austin Green (No. 89 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang), will be making his second Trans Am start of the season this weekend. Since competing in the season opener at Sebring International Raceway, Green has found success competing on road courses in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, most recently earning a fourth-place finish at Sonoma Raceway.

Matt Tifft (No. 52 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang) returns to the series for the first time since his Trans Am debut at Road America in 2018. Since he last raced in Trans Am, the Cleveland native has competed in the NASCAR Cup Series, and most recently has been participating in various late model racing series.

Pro/Am heating up
This weekend will see a deep field of TA2 Pro/Am Challenge drivers entered, with 11 drivers competing this weekend at Mid-Ohio. At the halfway point in the season, Barry Boes (No. 27 Team SLR-M1 Racecars Ford Mustang) holds a staggering 90-point lead after tallying three victories in six events. Tom Sheehan (No. 97 Vixen Motorcycle/LTK Insulation Ford Mustang) sits second, earning his first win at World Wide Technology Raceway. Keith Prociuk (No. 9 HP Tuners/Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang) sits just 11 points behind Sheehan, with two victories thus far.

Story originally appeared on Racer