Trans Am Series’ Most Recent TA2 Winner Connor Mosack Looks To Make it Two in a Row
as he’s Joined by Veteran Chris Liesfeld in Season’s Penultimate Race
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (Oct. 6, 2022) – Fresh off his second career TA2-class victory in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli and his second in a row at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Connor Mosack looks to continue his recent streak of top-four finishes as he and fellow TeamSLR driver Chris Liesfeld head to Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton for the penultimate round of the 12-race season.
After his commanding victory from the pole four weekends ago on the iconic Watkins Glen circuit in New York’s Finger Lakes region, the 23-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, and second-year, fulltime driver of the No. 28 Open Eyes/Nic Taylor Custom Fit Underwear/M1 Racecars Ford Mustang arrives in the southernmost reaches of the Virginia Commonwealth for the Mission Foods VIR SpeedTour with serious aspirations in the driver championship.
With only Saturday’s 30-lap, 75-minute race and the Nov. 6 season finale at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, left on the schedule, Mosack sits third in the standings, 16 points behind leader and defending TA2 champion Rafa Matos and only four points behind second-place Thomas Merrill. Mosack is the hottest of the championship-contending trio with the Watkins Glen victory giving him an average finish of 2.5 in the last four races, versus 4.5 for Matos and 7.5 for Merrill. Prior to The Glen, Mosack posted finishes of third at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, fourth at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and second on the downtown streets of Nashville, Tennessee. Overtaking Merrill for second in the championship, which would put Mosack one spot better than his third place finish in last year’s final standings, is certainly attainable. Catching Matos would take a bit of help, but it’s still within the realm of possibility. Meanwhile, Mosack is atop the Peter Gregg Foundation Young Gun Award standings with a 20-point lead over Brent Crews.
Liesfeld, the 47-year-old from just up the road in Richmond, Virginia, is ready for his fourth race of the season and third in a row behind the wheel of the No. 96 Fields Racing/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro. Liesfeld owns and operates Fields Racing, which has competed in an array of racing disciplines over the years, including Stock Car Championship Series, Spec Miata, SCCA Pro and Trans Am. He’s raced at the 3.27-mile, 17-turn VIR circuit in numerous racing disciplines, and in 2017 scored a GT3-class victory there during an SCCA regional event.
Riding along with TeamSLR this weekend at VIR is ScreenYourMachine.org, an initiative created in 2016 by TeamSLR owner Scott Lagasse Jr., in partnership with the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA)to educate individuals about the importance of getting age-appropriate screenings for all types of cancer.
“I was still in my early 30s when I was diagnosed, but I knew something was wrong so I didn’t waste any time and I went and saw my doctor,” said Lagasse, a colon cancer survivor. “They caught it early and that was my saving grace. The treatment worked, but young-onset colorectal cancer is rising. I wasn’t some outlier. In people ages 55 and younger, incidence is rising by two percent every year.”
You’re heading to VIR as the most recent race winner on the tour, and you’re within range of finishing in the top-two the TA2 championship with just two races to go. Do you feel like the team is gelling at the right time?
“We’ve been together a while now and were able to get the win at Watkins Glen last year, and again this year, with basically the same core group of guys. But it was kind of nice to get that off our backs, not having won a race yet this year. It’s definitely good momentum and we’ll be confident going to VIR. We’ll have the car to beat, hopefully, and we’re really going to have to perform at these next two races to have a shot at the championship. We have a decent shot at it and we’ll just to have to go out there and have two really good finishes. I think if we win both races, and a few other things fall in our favor, we have a shot at the championship.”
You had a strong car at VIR last year before a cut tire ruined your day. What did you learn about the track last year that you can apply to this weekend?
“I think VIR is probably the toughest place we go to as far as how to get around there quickly and not crash. You have a lot of runoff room, there’s grass everywhere, but there are a lot of really high-speed, high-commitment corners, so if you drop a wheel at the wrong time, or if your balance isn’t where you need it to be, it’s really easy to end up in a bad spot. It’s definitely a place where you have to be really focused for all 30 laps of the race. It’s probably one of the more mentally challenging places we go to. Going up the esses so quickly, you’ve got to put the car exactly where it needs to be, which is why I like the place so much. It’s tough, but also very rewarding. I feel like we were a second-place car last year and really probably should’ve finished second, but we ended up getting into it with another car and cut a tire down and we finished a lap down.”
Being such a technical track with 17 turns of every variety over 3.27 miles, is it possible to put together a perfect lap at VIR?
“It’s probably the hardest road course we go to as far as being able to put it all together on a given lap. There are a lot of corners where it’s difficult to really know if you’re overdriving the corner, or lifting too early to try to set up for an exit, or just rolling speed in the middle. There are a lot of places to make speed any of those three ways, but it’s really difficult to put together a so-called perfect lap on that track.”
Considering you live just a few hours up the road in Richmond, is it safe to say you’re very familiar with VIR?
“VIR is not too far from where I’m from, so I guess you can say it’s kind of like my home track. I can’t even count how many times I’ve raced there, in different classes – Miatas, stock cars, and TA2 – so that’s the track where I’ve probably got the most laps of any other track in the country. I won a race there back in 2017, in a Trans Am car set up to run as a GT2 car during an SCCA regional weekend. I started from the back of the field – which tends to be my thing these days (laughs) – and was able to work my way up through the field. It’s certainly not an easy track to do that, so that was a very satisfying end to the weekend.”
What’s your outlook for this weekend?
“I’m definitely looking forward to it. It’s a track that I know for sure but, even though I’ve driven it many times, I still feel like I haven’t quite mastered it, yet. There’s still a lot to learn. It’s good to have some fast guys on the team that I can learn from to help me pick up some things, little features of the track, a little trick here or there, trying a different line to find some extra speed in places you may not know were there without someone else’s perspective. There are a couple of places where subtle things can make a big difference and I look for help anywhere I can get it. So, if the young guys are fast, I’m going to act young and talk to them. I don’t have too much of an ego so I’ll talk to anyone if there’s advice to be had.”
What are the keys to getting around VIR quickly?
“I’d say VIR is somewhat of a technical track. There are a couple of corners that you have to set up for and get just right, otherwise it throws off the next series of corners afterward. One particular corner is called Oak Tree (turns 11-12) and, if you can get a good run coming off that corner, it really sets you up with straightaway speed and trying to take advantage of the long straight on the back side of the track. So, coming off that corner is important, and the last corner before the frontstretch (turns 17-17A) is very important. NASCAR Bend (turn three) can sometimes be a little tricky with its decreasing radius. It’s just a lot of subtle transitions in the way the corners go from being slightly cambered to slightly off-cambered. It makes it interesting as you transition through the turns. All tracks have their characteristics that you have to learn and understand, and this one is certainly not short on that.”
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.
Contact Larry Weeks with TeamSLR
(904) 814-7242 [email protected]