Rafa Matos Wins from the Pole at Mid-Ohio, Ties Record for Most TA2 Victories
LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 25, 2023) ? Rafa Matos had the perfect weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, earning the maximum available points in pursuit of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series championship. Matos earned the pole and led the 3-Dimensional Services Group Classic from flag to flag in dominating fashion to win his 20th race in the series, adding to his Peterson Racing team’s tally of podium finishes in 2023 and moving up a spot in the championship standings.
After winning the Motul Pole Award in Saturday’s qualifying session, Matos’ No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang was supposed to line up side-by-side with Connor Zilisch’s No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro. However, Zilisch experienced an electrical issue that prevented him from starting the race with the rest of the field. With Carson Kvapil’s No. 8 SLR-M1 Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro now on the front row, Matos took the green flag and immediately pulled out ahead of his competitors, leading Kvapil, Dillon Machavern (No. 17 SLR-M1 Race Cars Ford Mustang), Thomas Merrill (No. 26 Bennett/HP Tuners/Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang) and Brent Crews (No. 70 Franklin Road/Mobil 1/GEARWRENCH Ford Mustang) in a single-file line. On lap five, Zilisch was able to emerge from the garage and onto the track, but after completing one lap around the circuit, the points contender was forced to retire.
The top five stayed the same until lap 12 when Crews overtook Machavern for third, and then remained unchanged until the first full-course yellow on lap 34. Many of the best battles of the day occurred behind the top five, with intense competition between Adrian Wlostowski (No. 3 Hawk Performance/AMT Motorsport Ford Mustang), Austin Green (No. 89 3-Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro), Jade Buford (No. 48 Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers Ford Mustang), Nathan Herne (No. 29 CUBE 3/Berryman Ford Mustang) and Darin Mock (No. 51 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang) for sixth through 10th. Wlostowski and Doug Peterson (No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang) got into the gravel trap to bring out the caution, ending Wlostowski’s top-10 run.
When green-flag racing resumed on lap 38, Matos once again pulled out to the lead, and Crews got the jump on Kvapil for the second position. Kvapil was next passed by Machavern and Merrill before settling into fifth. The field was once again brought under caution on Lap 41, and a final restart one lap later gave the leaders one more chance to advance positions. Matos had a smooth restart, and the top-five drivers took the checkered flag in the same order as the green. Six through 10 jockeyed for position in the final two laps, with Herne jumping up one position to sixth, Green dropping back to eighth, and Adam Andretti (No. 41 Ultimate Headers Chevrolet Camaro), who had been outside the top 10 for much of the race, fighting his way up to seventh. Buford and Mock rounded out the top 10.
“I can’t describe it in words; this was a very emotional win for me,” said Matos on the podium. “It’s getting more difficult to win because the series is getting more and more competitive. All the credit goes to my team; the 3-Dimensional Services Group crew did an amazing job all weekend long. We’re recovering from Detroit, where we lost two cars before coming here. Getting the pole position and leading all the laps maximized our points, so that should put us closer to the points lead. I can’t thank [team owner] Doug Peterson enough for giving us the chance to compete at the highest level in the United States. This series has become a destination, so I’m a really proud guy right now; I’m proud of my team. Road America will be a very important weekend for us.”
Notes of Interest
Today’s win was the 20th of Matos’ career, tying the record for most Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series victories with Cameron Lawrence.
Peterson Racing has now earned a podium finish in six of seven events so far in 2023.
Machavern’s last TA2 podium came at Lime Rock Park in May of 2021.
Kvapil earned a fifth-place finish in his Trans Am Series debut.
Crews remains the leader in the TA2 point standings, with Merrill just 23 points behind. Matos moves up to third in the standings.
Crews currently tops the 3-Dimensional Services Group Triple Track Tournament standings going into the final race of the challenge at Road America, the 3-Dimensional Services Group 100. Merrill and Matos are second and third, trailing by 26 and 41 points, respectively.
TA2 Top 10:
1. Rafa Matos, No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang
2. Brent Crews, No. 70 Franklin Road/Mobil 1/GEARWRENCH Ford Mustang
3. Dillon Machavern, No. 17 SLR-M1 Race Cars Ford Mustang
4. Thomas Merrill, No. 26 Bennett/HP Tuners/Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang
5. Carson Kvapil, No. 8 SLR-M1 Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro
6. Nathan Herne, No. 29 CUBE 3/Berryman Ford Mustang
7. Adam Andretti, No. 41 Ultimate Headers Chevrolet Camaro
8. Austin Green, No. 89 3-Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro
9. Jade Buford, No. 48 Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers Ford Mustang
10. Darin Mock, No. 51 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang
Doug Peterson, No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang
TA2 Pro/Am Winner:
Jeff Birdwell, No. 2 Hartman Davidson Ford Mustang
COOLSHIRT Cool Move of the Race:
Adam Andretti, No. 41 Ultimate Headers Chevrolet Camaro
Omologato Watches Fastest Lap of the Race:
Rafa Matos, No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang
Serck Precision Clean Up:
Carson Kvapil, No. 8 SLR-M1 Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro
Bassett Hard Charger:
Jeff Birdwell, No. 2 Hartman Davidson Ford Mustang
The broadcast of today’s race will air on MAVTV on Thursday, June 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
The Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series returns to the track July 6-9 at Road America with the 3-Dimensional Services Group 100 and the conclusion of the 3-Dimensional Services Group Triple Track Tournament.