Charlotte Native Victorious at Iconic Watkins Glen International for the Second Year in a Row, Tightens Trans Am TA2 Title Chase
AUGUSTINE, Fla. (Sept. 10, 2022) – Connor Mosack called Saturday’s Franklin Road Apparel Classic at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International the most fun race he’s ever contested in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli.
Who could argue with the 23-year-old, second-year, fulltime driver of the No. 28 Open Eyes/Nacarato Truck Centers/Nic Taylor Custom Fit Underwear Ford Mustang for TeamSLR? He had just secured his second career victory on the very same 3.4-mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen circuit where a year ago last weekend he scored his maiden victory in just his 10th start as a rookie in Trans Am’s hotly competitive TA2 class.
Mosack arrived at Watkins Glen as one of the prohibitive favorites to top finish atop the 43-car field in Saturday’s 30-lap race, which was presented by Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers and will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. EDT Wednesday (Sept. 14) and rebroadcast at 12:30 a.m. EDT Thursday (Sept. 16). And the native of Charlotte, North Carolina, certainly delivered. He qualified his Team SLR M1 racecar on the pole and waged a race-long battle with Thomas Merrill, swapping the lead with the 36-year-old veteran on multiple occasions before getting around Merrill a final time with just four laps remaining. Mosack took the checkered flag by a .732-of-a-second margin.
“It was a really a fun race, probably the most fun Trans Am I’ve ever been a part of, just good, clean racing up front all the way,” Mosack said. “This is amazing. We’ve been so close this year and to finally get it done, I feel like we really deserved this one. I was trying to give it away there a couple of times, gave him the lead back with some mistakes, but thankfully this car was so good, we were able to get by him multiple times.”
Merrill, who started the race second, was able to get by the polesitting Mosack on the opening lap and held the lead for the first 16 tours of the iconic circuit. After patiently biding his time and offering occasional aborted attempts to get back by Merrill, Mosack finally retook the lead on lap 17 and stayed there for the next eight laps, surviving a restart along the way. Mosack admitted to an error on the side of caution that gave the lead back to Merrill on lap 25, but that lead was short-lived for the Californian. Mosack’s winning pass came on lap 27.
“He passed me on the start, and then I got him about halfway through the race, and then just drove away on that long, green-flag run, and had a good restart,” Mosack said. “And then I think I made a mistake. There was grass all over the track and I was a little too careful through there and he just didn’t care, so that’s on me for being a little too cautious. And then he made a mistake and I was able to get by him around the outside of the carousel, and that was it. We knew we had a really good car, so even if we lost the lead there at the beginning, we thought we’d be OK. That’s what happened, we lost the lead but we weren’t too disappointed because I knew we had the car to get back by him.”
Mosack’s victory, his fourth podium finish through 10 races this season, tightened the points race atop the TA2 championship with two races remaining. He stands third, just four points behind Merrill and 16 points behind series leader and defending-champion Rafa Matos, who finished third in Saturday’s race. Only the Oct. 8 race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton, and the Nov. 6 race at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, remain on the schedule.
“It was a great race, I had a lot of fun out there racing Thomas,” Mosack said. “Thanks to him for racing me clean most of the time. I had to trust him a few times getting by him, and I kept making mistakes and letting him back by. It was a fun race and he kept me honest, that’s for sure. I want to thank the guys at Team SLR, who gave me a really good car. Thanks to Open Eyes, Franklin Road Apparel, Nacarato Trucks, Nic Tailor and everyone who makes it possible to race every week. Hopefully this is the momentum we needed and we can finish the season off with two good finishes at VIR and COTA.”
Joining Mosack near the top of Saturday’s leaderboard was fellow TeamSLR driver Dillon Machavern, the 27-year-old from Charlotte, Vermont, who started seventh and finished sixth in his second race of the season in the No. 17 UniFirst/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro. Opening-lap drama ended the race for the two other drivers in the four-car TeamSLR armada at The Glen. Chris Liesfeld and his No. 96 Fields Racing/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro was caught up in a multicar accident not of his doing, and Justin Marks was forced to retire with transmission issues shortly after taking the green flag in his No. 99 Team Trackhouse/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro.
TeamSLR competes fulltime in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli in a multifaceted effort that includes dedicated entries in the TA2 division, customer programs, driver coaching and car construction. Its history dates back to 1985 and covers a wide spectrum of motorsports, including NASCAR, IMSA, SCCA, ARCA and ASA. TeamSLR is a family-owned organization run by Scott Lagasse Sr., and Scott Lagasse Jr., The father-and-son duo 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. For more information, please visit us online at www.TeamSLR.com, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and on LinkedIn.