TeamSLR Trans Am Race Report from VIR
September 27, 2021
TeamSLR Trans Am Race Report from COTA
November 8, 2021
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Connor Mosack and Chris Liesfeld Aim to End Season on High Note in Trans Am Finale

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (Nov. 3, 2021) – As the 2021 season of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli winds down, TeamSLR is suiting up for the finale at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.

The 3.426-mile, 20-turn road course that most recently hosted Formula One and its 20-car field on Oct. 24 welcomes Trans Am and its record-breaking 50-car field this Sunday in the Heacock Classic TA2 race. Two of those 50 cars will be fielded by TeamSLR, with Connor Mosack piloting the No. 28 Nic Tailor Custom Fit Underwear/Interstate Foam & Supply Chevrolet Camaro and Chris Liesfeld in the No. 96 M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro.

The Heacock Classic marks Trans Am’s seventh visit to COTA and, in true Texas fashion, Trans Am has come back to the Lone Star State bigger than ever. Its 50-car TA2 field dwarfs the previous all-time class entry record of 38 cars set on Aug. 7 when the series raced on the streets of downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

The massive TA2 field at COTA is a microcosm of Trans Am’s growth. Billed as America’s Road-Racing Series, Trans Am proudly pits American muscle in the form of Chevrolet Camaros, Ford Mustangs and Dodge Challengers wheeled by both experienced racers and next-generation talents on some of the most iconic tracks in North America. The opportunities for racers to hone their skills are high because the cost of entry is relatively low.

Engines can last an entire season, and chassis builders like M1 Racecars construct a quality racecar that is as fast as it is safe. It’s a visceral racing series where the driver makes the difference, as outsized talent can trump an outsized bank account.

Mosack is a perfect example. The 22-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, began this season with only four TA2 races on his resume via the doubleheaders he ran late last year at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, respectively. Mosack was a rookie who began his 2021 campaign with a DNF (Did Not Finish) in the season opener at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, yet nine races later at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Mosack was a Trans Am race winner. It was a dominant win too, as Mosack took the class lead on the opening lap from series veteran Rafa Matos and never relinquished it, leading all 30 laps around the 3.4-mile, 11-turn track to finish .883 of a second over his nearest pursuer, Tyler Kicera.

The win put an exclamation mark on Mosack’s progression. He secured his first career podium finish June 26 at the Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course, just a month-and-a-half after graduating with a degree in business entrepreneurship from High Point (N.C.) University. Then on Aug. 7 on the streets of Nashville, Mosack earned another podium finish. That set the stage for Mosack’s breakthrough win Sept. 12 at The Glen, with the victory coming in his 13th career TA2 start. The triumph also boosted Mosack to third in the TA2 championship standings, and he comes into the season finale with a three-point advantage over fourth-place Thomas Merrill.

Mosack, however, isn’t interested in points. With the championship out of reach, his sole focus is on getting another win, and TeamSLR aims to get him there.

Mosack is coached by the father-and-son duo of Scott Lagasse and Scott Lagasse, Jr. They have combined to win more than 100 races and seven championships across a variety of series and styles of racecars, from paved ovals to road courses to dirt tracks.

The Lagasse’s depth of knowledge is augmented this weekend by the return of Liesfeld, who will be Mosack’s teammate at COTA. The 47-year-old from Richmond, Virginia, has a long tenure with the St. Augustine-based organization. Liesfeld’s company, Fields Racing, has been competing with TeamSLR and the Lagasses for several years. Liesfeld will make his 13th career Trans Am start Sunday at COTA and his third of the season, with his previous outings coming in Nashville and in the series’ penultimate race Sept. 26 at VIR.

The combination of Mosack’s rising-star talent and Liesfeld’s encyclopedic Trans Am knowledge, both of which will be buoyed by the Lagasses’ coaching acumen, makes TeamSLR’s presence in the paddock a formidable one. Recent history, and the decades of know-how accrued by the Lagasses, convene in the Trans Am season finale this weekend at COTA.

Connor Mosack, driver No. 28 Nic Tailor Custom Fit Underwear/Interstate Foam & Supply Chevrolet Camaro:

Eleven races in the rearview mirror and just one more race ahead – the TA2 season finale this Sunday at COTA. Talk about your development this year, from scoring your first podium at Mid-Ohio to leading a bunch of laps at Nashville to getting your breakthrough win at Watkins Glen.

“I feel like I learned a ton just from running these cars with the guys we race against each week and, obviously, a lot from Scott (Lagasse Jr.) and Senior (Scott Lagasse). They’ve been a huge help for me just learning when you can take advantage and when you need to save yourself, and also just how to make better lap times. I feel like we could’ve been a little bit closer in the points battle had we not had some bad luck this year, but it would be nice to go run for another one next year, that’s for sure.”

Now when you enter an ARCA or Late Model race, do you have more confidence than you did last year at this time, particularly when it comes to race craft?

“I think so. Road-course craft is a little different than the oval stuff, but I think there are definitely some things you can apply to both. Some things about being a good road-course driver helps on ovals – things that even oval guys don’t understand. Knowing you can be fast in the Trans Am car obviously gives you confidence knowing you can drive fast and be competitive, so I think that’s a big takeaway going into any other series.”

When you get the chance to run an ARCA race on a road course, or a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race or even a NASCAR Xfinity Series race on a road course, do you feel like you’ll be as prepared as some of those drivers who already have road-racing experience in each of those respective series?

“I feel like I would have an advantage over most of the guys, at least in ARCA and probably Trucks. Most of those guys, the only road-course experience they have is the one or two – or maybe three or four, now – road-course races a year that they run. Me, having the whole season running maybe 14 or 15 road courses against guys who only race road courses, I think there are a lot of things that I’ve been able to learn that they may not have.”

There’s a record 50 entries for Sunday’s TA2 race at COTA. How important will qualifying be, and then come the race, what kind of challenges will you face when there are 49 other cars around you?

“COTA’s a big place, so during the race, I don’t see traffic being too big of a problem. As far as qualifying, it’s tough to pass at a lot of these places. At COTA, there are more passing opportunities than other places, but obviously the less you have to pass to get to the front, the better. Really, in Trans Am, it seems like whether there are 20 cars or 50 cars, it’s the same five guys you’re racing. As long as you don’t have to pass 40 guys to get to them, it really is the same. We’re going to focus on qualifying in the top-five and being there at the end of the race.”

You hold a three-point advantage over fourth-place Thomas Merrill in the championship standings. You’ve said all season long that points take a backseat to wins. Is that still the case when a top-three points finish in your first full season of TA2 competition is on the line?

“At the end of the day, to me, second or third or fourth in points doesn’t matter too much. Obviously, if I was running for the championship, I would be more focused on that. But, at this point, with one race left and no shot at winning the championship, it’s definitely 100-percent focused on just trying to win the race.”

You haven’t raced or even tested at COTA. This weekend will be your first visit to the track. How are you preparing for it?

“Just a lot of sim time. It’s probably one of the harder tracks to learn that we go to, just with the amount of corners that it has. A lot of them might look pretty similar, but they definitely are not the same. It’s definitely something to get used to, some blind corners, as well. So I’ve been doing a lot of sim time, which is pretty usual for a new road course, and watching videos of in-car footage, that sort of thing.”

Chris Liesfeld, driver No. 96 New Field/M1 Racecars/Fields Racing Chevrolet Camaro:

Talk about Fields Racing and its relationship with TeamSLR.

“Fields Racing started when my father used to race in the NASCAR Grand National Series back in the ’80s and they raced under the name of Fields Racing, kind of an anagram of the spelling of our last name. We carried the name on when I got into racing, which was back in 2001 driving spec Miatas, and stock-car road racing. Fields Racing and TeamSLR work together through my company.”

You’ve worked with TeamSLR for many years – talk about what the Lagasses bring to the table when it comes to driver development and, specifically, the kind of coaching they provide at a track like COTA?

“I would say, between Scott and Scotty, they bring a lot to the table. They really do care tremendously about making sure the drivers come out with good results. They want to make sure they’re giving them everything they can in the way of coaching, as well as finding performance in the car. Even the days when things aren’t working in their favor as far as the racing goes – things can happen during the race and there can be problems – and still trying to make the best of those situations. There have been some really strong results, and there have been some results that have been really good while there were some struggles. But just constantly working on that, I think if it were anyone else, the results wouldn’t be as good as they are with the Lagasses with their devotion and dedication. There’s always coaching going on, even as the laps are being turned. Connor is constantly getting good feedback and good coaching, and you see it from the beginning of the year to this point. It was just a matter of time before he was going to win. I myself will always be a student, especially not driving week after week and not having been at every race. Every time I get back in the car, it’s always having to learn a lot and get back up to speed. I’m going to try to attend more races so I don’t have to constantly be working through that learning curve. I’m always trying to learn all I can and I appreciate all the feedback I get from the Lagasses. And even from Connor – I don’t put myself in a position where I feel like I’m so good that I can’t listen to some advice from him, as well.”

There’s a record 50 entries for Sunday’s TA2 race at COTA. How important will qualifying be, and then come the race, what kind of challenges will you face when there are 49 other cars around you?

“Qualifying is huge – you always want to be as close to the front as you can, if not on the pole. I think it also helps to keep you out of trouble in the race. The further back you go, the chances of that turn-one melee increase. Trying to get yourself to the front certainly plays a big part in trying to stay out of trouble. On raceday, if you’re in the middle toward the back of the field, you just really have to take a more cautious approach, let things sort of settle out, and then start the race. There will be cautions during the race, so you don’t have to try and win it on the first lap. My approach will be to try and get settled in, try to advance, and if you happen to lose a few spots, that’s OK, there will be time to reposition yourself toward the front. I’m certainly going to try and qualify as close to the front as everybody else.”

COTA marks your third start this season and your second straight. How helpful is it to be in the car for back-to-back races?

“Certainly the time between races, the shorter that time is the better. It keeps you fresh. It’s really easy to get up to speed, at least to 97 percent. It’s that last three percent that’s the hardest, and that’s what differentiates the really good drivers. If you’re not driving, you’ll never get there, so I’m glad that it hasn’t been that much time, relatively, since the last race, so the feel of the car is still there. When you’re not driving, you can lose it quickly.”

Your teammate, Connor Mosack, can finish his rookie TA2 season with a top-three points finish. Talk about how the data you’ll collect in your race and the experience you’ll get behind the wheel will help him race for the win and, ultimately, a top-three points finish?

“I think he’s probably going to be more helpful than I will to him (laughs). I want him to be focused on his race and, if I can help in any way, I certainly will offer anything that I’m seeing or experiencing out on the track, whether or not it’s useful or beneficial to him. I’m really excited for Connor and what he’s accomplished, and for his future, and I’m just proud of him and the team. It’s been a privilege to work with him. So if there’s anything I can do to help, I’ll be really happy to do that.”

You haven’t raced or even tested at COTA. This weekend will be your first visit to the track. How are you preparing for it?

“I’m just reviewing a lot of video from Scott (Lagasse Jr.) from previous races and just trying to study each corner and get a visualization of the track. I’ve been there many times, but never behind the wheel of a racecar, so I’m just trying to get the visual cues and the timing of shift points and turn-ins and stuff like that just by reviewing video. I’m also using a simulator a little bit, so that’s something else I think is going to help me. It may not necessarily help me be fast in the car, but it’s more important in helping me learn the track layout and what to expect so that, once we get there, I’m prepared.”

Scott Lagasse, Jr., owner of TeamSLR and driver coach:

Eleven races in the rearview mirror and just one more race ahead – the TA2 season finale this Sunday at COTA. Talk about Mosack’s development this year, from scoring his first podium at Mid-Ohio to leading a bunch of laps at Nashville to getting his breakthrough win at Watkins Glen.

“He’s got a ton of talent. He’s put the work in and he’s done a great job. He’s not raced a lot, in general, so to win at this level and be consistently up front week in and week out has been very impressive. It’s definitely come with a lot of work, and that’s probably the neatest part. He just keeps his head down, he keeps working, and he keeps getting better week-in and week-out. He’s a lot of fun to work with.”

Mosack holds a three-point advantage over fourth-place Thomas Merrill in the championship standings. The mindset all season long has been that points take a backseat to wins. Is that still the case when a top-three points finish is on the line?

“I don’t know if it’ll be any different of an approach due to points, except for the fact that this is the first time he will have ever seen this racetrack. Our weekend will be dictated by how practice goes, and then how qualifying goes, and we’ll evolve or change the plan as the race goes on. The thing we have to remember is it’s about wins and it’s about points and it’s about all those things but, more importantly, it’s about him as a racer. If they come in and win every race and learn nothing, then we’ve not done a good job on our side.”

There’s a record 50 entries for Sunday’s TA2 race at COTA. How important will qualifying be, and then come the race, what kind of challenges does a 50-car field pose?

“I think qualifying, obviously, is going to be critical to win the race. But COTA’s got a lot of passing zones, and our stuff tends to be pretty good there, and it tends to be pretty good over the long run. Last year, I started dead last of 20 or 30 cars and got to fourth quickly. It makes it a little more difficult but, more so, 50 cars is probably going to mean a wreck – early. So that to me becomes the reason to qualify toward the front, to try to get up ahead of the mess as far as you can. But it’s not anything that we have to do, either. Connor’s proven his race craft is good and keeping his head on straight is good. And the same thing with Chris – both our guys this weekend are very smart racers who will be there at the end.”

Neither Mosack nor Liesfeld have raced at COTA before. How are you helping them prepare for their first race at the track?

“We’ve got a laundry list of things they’re doing right now, so they’ll be ready. I’m not concerned. There are different videos and sim and some other avenues they’ll do – a lot of talking. It’s nice that our stuff has been good there and I’ve run there a few times and am able to relay where to focus on, what to look for, where to go work on things first. We’ll go with the typical step-by-step approach.”

After a shortened season last year due to COVID, how good has it been to get back to an almost normal slate of racing this year? Did the challenges COVID presented last year make you appreciate all that the team has accomplished so far this year?

“COVID actually allowed us time to get more prepared. Our guys never laid down, never slowed down, so I don’t know that we’ve changed a lot as an organization. We just kept our heads down and worked. We were small enough that, with COVID, it actually enabled us to get things done to make us better moving forward and still are today. Our guys never quit. We alternated schedules and stayed vigilant and got a lot done.”