ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (July 5, 2023) – Coming off back-to-back podium finishes at the most recent rounds of the 2023 Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers TA2 Series, TeamSLR heads to iconic Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, ready to kick it up a notch at this weekend’s 3-Dimensional Services Group 100 with a high-caliber, four-car contingent featuring M1 Racecars equipment.
Fulltime TeamSLR drivers Dillion Machavern, who earned his season-best finish of third two weekends ago at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, and Thad Moffitt, who scored a runner-up finish at the previous round June 4 on the downtown Detroit street course, will be joined by a couple of familiar faces for Sunday’s 25-lap, 75-minute race around the newly repaved 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America circuit.
One of those is Carson Kvapil, the short-track specialist who’s fresh off a head-turning TA2 debut in the No. 8 SLR-M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro at Mid-Ohio, where he qualified third and ran second in the race until he was shuffled back to his fifth-place finishing position during a restart in the closing laps. The other is TeamSLR’s 2021 and 2022 fulltime driver Connor Mosack, who returned to the team for this year’s season opener at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, where he qualified on the pole and led the opening 22 laps en route to a third-place finish on race day.
All the ingredients for success this weekend are certainly in place with a proven lineup of drivers behind the wheel of their respective M1 Racecars under the direction of TeamSLR principals Scott Lagasse Sr., and Scott Lagasse Jr.
Machavern, the 28-year-old driver of the No. 17 Heritage Automotive/Unifirst SLR-M1 Racecars entry executed his most complete race weekend of the season at Mid-Ohio, one that he hopes is the launching point for a strong second half of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli season. His podium finish, from the No. 4 starting position, moved him to fifth in the TA2 standings with six races to go this season. The sportscar-racing veteran from Charlotte, Vermont, has logged countless laps at Road America in Trans Am and IMSA Challenge Series competition, highlighted by a win there in the latter series in 2021, and back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2017 and 2018. He finished fifth and seventh there in his most recent Trans Am outings in 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Moffitt, the 22-year-old driver of the No. 43 Safety-Kleen/Victory Impact Chevrolet Camaro, endured the highs and lows of a typical rookie season at the past two TA2 events, his runner-up finish in the second race of the Saturday-Sunday weekend doubleheader in Detroit followed by a pair of incidents at Mid-Ohio that left him with a damaged clutch and a 29th-place finish. The grandson of racing legend Richard Petty arrives for his first-ever Road America outing 13th in the standings with an eye on another breakthrough run that can vault him into the top-10.
Kvapil, the 20-year-old son of 2003 NASCAR Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil, proved to be a quick study at Mid-Ohio in his first-ever TA2 race weekend. He cut his racing teeth on dirt short tracks and most recently has become a frontrunner on the CARS Tour for Pro Late Models and Late Model Stocks. Driving fulltime in the No. 8 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports team, he’s won three Late Model Stock races so far this season and sits atop the driver standings.
Prior to his podium finish at Sebring in February, Mosack, the 24-year-old driver of the No. 28 First Supply/SLR-M1 Racecars entry, netted a pair of wins, eight podium finishes and 14 top-10s in 24 TA2 starts with TeamSLR in 2021 and 2022, with finishes of third and fourth in the championship, respectively. That level of consistency helped earn the native of Charlotte, North Carolina, a slate of 23 NASCAR Xfinity Series races with Joe Gibbs Racing and Sam Hunt Racing (SHR) in 2023, along with another six ARCA Menards Series outings with the Gibbs team. In nine Xfinity Series starts with SHR this season, Mosack has a best finish of eighth, earned June 3 on the road course at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway. He was in Gibbs equipment for the first time this season in last weekend’s first-ever NASCAR street-course event in downtown Chicago, where he qualified an Xfinity Series career-best fourth and ran in the top-five for a majority of the rain-shortened race before a carburetor issue derailed his victory bid. In his first of three ARCA outings this season, Mosack qualified on the pole and led 25 laps before finishing second at the season-opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. He has been known to frequently consult with the Lagasse father-son duo before and during his NASCAR and ARCA race weekends this season. Mosack will return to Road America for the July 29 Xfinity Series race with the Gibbs team.
As with all races this season, Sunday’s event at Road America, set for a 1:30 p.m. EDT start, will be streamed live on the Trans Am and SpeedTour channels on YouTube. And Trans Am’s new TV partner this year, MAVTV, will rebroadcast it in a one-hour package Thursday, July 13, at 8 p.m. EDT.
Dillon Machavern, Driver, No. 17 Heritage Automotive/Unifirst/SLR-M1 Racecars Entry:
You scored your first podium of the season two weekends ago at Mid-Ohio. Do you feel you have momentum as you head to Road America this weekend?
“I’m really just looking forward to continuing to build on what we have at the last couple of races. Like I said before Mid-Ohio, we felt like we really found just how to communicate at Detroit. Unfortunately, we had that mishap with the power steering where we weren’t able to execute the second race at Detroit, but we definitely took a step in the right direction that translated to a podium at Mid-Ohio, where we had limited track time. We unloaded so much better than we had in previous races and we were able to make the adjustments that we needed quickly, which put us in a pretty good spot. I think there’s still a little bit more on the table, but we’re definitely optimistic moving forward.”
The third-place finish at Mid-Ohio put you in the top-five in the driver standings. Do you feel good about the overall championship?
“I think it might be out of reach at this point since we totally missed the NOLA weekend and then had the DNF at Detroit. That being said, consistency gets you places in championships, right? That’s what we’ve been doing in the races that we do finish, we’re consistently right there in the mix. It’s always in the back of our mind, but we’re always trying to maximize points regardless, chasing podiums and wins. I think we have a little bit more autonomy to be aggressive sometimes because we’re not just trying to maintain, which is fun and exciting.”
You’ve run a ton of laps at Road America, and you’ve won there. How would you describe that track and what it takes to get around there quickly in a TA2 car?
“I think it suits our cars very well. We generally have very good drive off, and there are a lot of long straightaways where obviously you have to get off the previous corner really well to get down them. We also are very stable under braking, so we can take advantage there. You go from a technical track like Mid-Ohio to more of a point-and-shoot and aggression track where you can really get off the corners, get down the straightaways and hammer on the brakes sort of thing. It’s fun, there are a lot of passing zones. As far as straightline speed down those long straightaways, everybody has been pretty close this year, it doesn’t seem like anyone has any particular advantage in that department, so we’ll be in good shape with where are TeamSLR M1 Racecars equipment excel.”
Thad Moffitt, Driver, No. 43 Safety-Kleen/Victory Impact Chevrolet Camaro:
Your thoughts about heading to Road America to race for the first time?
“I think Road America is a really neat place, a really cool racetrack with a lot of history there. I actually went there to spectate a couple of years ago, for the (NASCAR) Cup race, and I thought it was a really neat racetrack. The place is huge. I’m looking forward to adding another track to the list of cool places I’ve gotten to run this year. I think it’s neat that people really show up and show out at that place. It’s huge and there wasn’t a part of that facility that did not have somebody sitting there and watching.”
How would you characterize the track after your visit there as a spectator?
“I don’t know that I noticed a whole lot of big stuff that stuck out to me because I was there more so to just watch the races, but I do know that the uphill heading into turn one is really important. Talking to Scott (Lagasse) Sr., and Scott Jr., they were saying that’s what we really need to work on. It’s the longest straightaway and probably the best passing zone. I’ll have to do a good job of using the practice sessions to make the car good in the places it needs to be good. I feel like we’re pretty decent on the long straights. At Detroit, we had the long straight heading into turn three and I thought we were good there.”
You had a bit of bad luck at Mid-Ohio that ended your race day early two weekends ago. What are your takeaways on that as you move forward?
“Greg (Steadman, car chief) and I have talked about being super aware of who I’m racing and what’s going on with them because I’m so used to having a spotter and they tell you where you are in position to other cars. Since I began racing Late Models at 14, I’ve always had somebody in my ear. I just need to do a better job of being aware of who I’m racing and making sure they know that I’m there when I’m racing them. I think ultimately it’s a matter of getting up there with the top six or seven guys so we can race with them. To do that, it’s important to qualify better because I feel like we’ve got the speed to run up there. When you’re further back, it seems like that’s where stuff tends to happen. But we’ll keep trying to control what we can control and keep trying to improve each race weekend.”
Carson Kvapil, Driver, No. 8 SLR-M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro:
You’re running your second of back-to-back races in TeamSLR M1 Racecars equipment. Your expectations for this weekend after getting your first taste of Trans Am TA2 racing at Mid-Ohio two weekends ago?
“I’m excited to go to Road America. That was the one of my two TA2 races this stretch that I was more excited for because I thought I would feel more comfortable there than Mid-Ohio. After doing what I thought was pretty decent at Mid-Ohio, I’m pretty excited to get more seat time, and the experience of running a race with the TA2 cars is going to help a bunch. And I feel like I’m going to be a lot more prepared going into this one just knowing how the weekend goes, how the races play out, how the car drives, stuff like that based on Mid-Ohio. I’ve never been to Road America, but I put in the same kind of simulator time that I did before I went to Mid-Ohio. It seems like Road America has a lot of straightaway, obviously a way bigger course. I think the new pavement is going to change it up for everybody, and I think if anybody, it gives someone like me a little bit of an advantage just not going to a track where everybody else knows exactly what to expect. Going somewhere that’s been repaved will hopefully play in our favor.”
You had a solid weekend in your TA2 debut at Mid-Ohio, qualifying third and coming away with a top-five finish after running second for most of the race. Were you surprised by your performance?
“I was happy with Mid-Ohio, this road-course stuff is really hard. The guys who do it every week are really hard to beat, so to run second most of the race, falling back to fifth was really disappointing, but looking back on it, it’s a pretty good finish. I feel like I didn’t really mess up too crazy, I didn’t do anything completely wrong, so I thought for a first time, I can be really happy about it. A lot of what I learned was just how the races play out, how the car drives in the race compared to how it practices. I learned a bunch while we were running second. I think I didn’t get the tires heated up enough coming to the final restart and that cost me a few positions, so I definitely need to do a lot better at that. Now that I know, it’s not going to be an issue, I wouldn’t think. Just having that race behind me, it’ll make it all that much easier going to this next one.”
You also seemed to fit in quite well with TeamSLR as you worked through the Mid-Ohio weekend. Did you feel that way?
“For sure. Just working with the Lagasses and the whole team, being able to do that Mid-Ohio race with them is going to make this race a whole lot better. Knowing how everybody works, what we do during practice and stuff like that, it gives me a one-up compared to when we got to Mid-Ohio. Seeing how the program rolls is a big advantage.”
Connor Mosack, Driver, No. 28 First Supply/SLR-M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro:
You’re back for your second TA2 race of the season with TeamSLR after running fulltime with the team in 2021 and 2022. Any special thoughts as you head to Road America?
“I’ll just approach it like it’s another race, try to fare as best you can. Obviously, we’ve had good speed everywhere we’ve been with TeamSLR’s M1 Racecars equipment. This will be my third time going back to Road America. The new surface should change things but, if anything, it should help our cars. I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we’ll have a good shot at a win. I definitely want to have some success there. I was close the last two years, should’ve ended up on the podium both times but ended up not. But there were things we learned, for sure. We’ll treat this like it’s a new race and go and do the best we can.”
Safe to say you’ll be thinking about your return trip to Road America three weeks later to run the NASCAR Xfinity Series race with Joe Gibbs Racing?
“That’s the original idea of why we picked this one. Since Sebring, I wanted to run some other TA2 races that my schedule allowed, and this weekend happened to be open, as it turned out. I think with the new asphalt, that’ll change things up for the Xfinity guys who’ve run there in years past, so it’ll be a little bit of an advantage knowing what the track looks like, where the new grip really is, or if there are some spots that don’t have as much grip. I can start getting all that figured out this weekend.”
Having spent the bulk of your season racing the bigger, heavier Xfinity Series and ARCA cars, what do you expect it will be like to get back into a TA2 car?
“I’m sure the extra experience running the longer races with a higher caliber field is really going to help me. But at the front of the field of these TA2 races, the guys are really fast and they’re still hard to beat. With me not running every TA2 race this year, it definitely could be a disadvantage. Any time you go to a different series against guys who are running well each and every week, they’d seem to have a little bit of a layup because they know the cars so well. Hopefully I’ve driven enough in the TA2 cars where I feel like I can hop back in and still be fast. Any time you go back to a previous series, you just have a little bit of extra confidence and everything kind of slows down, so to speak, in the car. You have more time to think about what’s going on and moves you want to make. You have a little more bandwidth other than just trying to drive the car.”
While you’ve raced in NASCAR and ARCA this season, have you found yourself thinking back to things you learned from Scott Lagasse Sr., and Scott Jr., that have helped you?
“I feel like any road course I go to, even like this past weekend at Chicago, I talked to Scott Sr., for quite a while before I got there, and again after I walked the track and did practice. He was certainly helpful. And things we learned when I drove TA2 at Nashville, I was able to apply that, as well. I’ll talk to Scott Jr., about different oval tracks that I’ve been going to because he’s raced on most of those. So they continue to help me really anywhere I go if I need any help.”