Connor Zilisch wins 3-Dimensional Services Group Motor City Showdown
DETROIT, Mich. (June 4, 2023) ? 16-year-old Connor Zilisch drove through the field to win the 3-Dimensional Services Group Motor City Showdown at the Detroit Grand Prix. The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series event was full of struggles for reigning champions, attrition and drama in the final laps, which led to Zilisch being declared the victor of Race 2 in the Motor City.
Zilisch’s No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro was the car to catch all weekend. He earned the Motul Pole Award for Race 1 and earned the first starting position for Race 2 by setting the fastest lap in the weekend’s opening race, but a technical infraction before the green flag relegated him to a 28th-place start. The field was led to green by Brent Crews in the No. 70 Franklin Road Apparel/Mobil 1/GearWrench Ford Mustang and Rafa Matos in the No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang after 2020 champion Mike Skeen, who was supposed to be the second-place starter, experienced a clutch issue in the opening pace laps.
Crews got off to an excellent start, with champions Matos and Thomas Merrill in the No. 26 Bennett/HP Tuners/Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang right on his tail in a scene very similar to the conclusion of Race 1. However, things began to shake up when Merrill made the pass on Matos on lap five. Just seven laps later, Matos suffered from a mechanical issue that resulted in a hard crash which forced his retirement from the event. Crews continued to pace the field with Merrill second, as competitors Austin Green in the No. 89 3-Dimensional Services Group Camaro and Thomas Annunziata in the No. 90 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang battled hard for the third position. Merrill faced his own issues on Lap 28 when he lost grip on the track’s rough surface and hit the wall, incurring heavy rear-end damage which took him out of contention for the win. By this point, Zilisch had impressively picked his way up through the field and was scored fourth.
Crews continued to pace the field by a large margin, with Green, Annunziata and Zilisch in his wake. However, a full-course yellow on lap 33 re-racked the competitive field. The race resumed with only two laps remaining and chaos ensued as soon as drivers entered the restart zone. Annunziata made contact with the back of Green, which thrust him forward into Crews. Crews and Green spun, as did Misha Goikhberg in the No. 10 BC Race Cars Ford Mustang and Adrian Wlostowski in the No. 3 Hawk Performance/AMT Motorsport Ford Mustang, who had been engaging in a heated battle for the fifth position.
Annunziata emerged with the lead, with Zilisch and Jade Buford in the No. 48 Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers Ford Mustang behind him. Zilisch, who had also received contact but was able to quickly escape the melee, used the final two laps to close the gap between himself and Annunziata, making it to his rear quarter panel as the checkered flag waved. However, while Annunziata crossed the finish line first, both he and Buford were penalized 25 seconds for avoidable contact on the restart, and Zilisch was declared the victor. Thad Moffitt in the No. 43 Safety-Kleen Camaro, who restarted eighth, and Barry Boes in the No. 20 BCR/AccioData Mustang, who restarted outside the top 10, were scored second and third after avoiding crashes and penalties. Meanwhile, Justin Marks in the No. 8 Trackhouse Camaro finished fourth and Josh Sarchet in the No. 77 LIQUI MOLY/CUBE 3 Ford Mustang finished fifth.
“This definitely feels good, I’m super proud of my entire Silver Hare Racing team,” said Zilisch from the podium. “They’ve worked so hard to put me in this position and give me this opportunity. [Owners] Maurice and Laura Hull have done so much for me as a driver and a person, working hard to give me these fast cars. We finally got ourselves on the podium at the Chevrolet Grand Prix in my Chevrolet. It’s just special to bring these guys the result that they deserve. They were here for hours last night fixing the car after the damage we had yesterday. To come from the back and have the fastest car again and get ourselves up on the podium here means a lot. I’m just thankful for everyone who puts a hand on this car and does the work to keep me fast and keep me up front. I’m excited for the rest of the year knowing the piece that we’ve got.”
Notes of Interest
This is Zilisch’s second win of 2023. He earned his first-career victory at Road Atlanta earlier this year.
Zilisch laid down the fastest lap time in both Race 1 and Race 2 this weekend.
Despite being the fastest car on the track, Zilisch finished 24th in Race 1 after early contact took him out of contention for the win.
The average age of this weekend’s winners is 15.5, as Zilisch is just 16 years old and yesterday’s Race 1 winner Crews is only 15.
Second-place Moffitt, third-place Boes and fifth-place Sarchet each earned their career-best finishes in the Trans Am Series.
Moffitt is the grandson of NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty.
Fourth-place Marks matched his career-best finish in the TA2 class. His previous fourth-place finish was also earned at a street course, the 2021 Big Machine Music City Grand Prix
TA2 Top Five:
1. Connor Zilisch, No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro
2. Thad Moffitt, No. 43 Safety-Kleen Chevrolet Camaro
3. Barry Boes, No. 20 BCR/AccioData Ford Mustang
4. Justin Marks, No. 8 Trackhouse Chevrolet Camaro
5. Josh Sarchet, No. 77 LIQUI MOLY/CUBE 3 Ford Mustang
TA2 Masters Award:
Doug Peterson, No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang
TA2 Pro/Am Winner:
Bruce Raymond, No. 54 Optima Batteries/FM3 Marketing Ford Mustang
COOLSHIRT Cool Move of the Race:
Thad Moffitt, No. 43 Safety-Kleen Chevrolet Camaro
Omologato Watches Fastest Lap of the Race:
Connor Zilisch, No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro