TeamSLR Ready To Defend at The Glen
Connor Mosack returns to the scene of his first career TA2 victory in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli as he and the four-car TeamSLR contingent head to Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International for this weekend’s Franklin Road Apparel Classic at the iconic 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course.
Mosack scored his victory in the second race of last September’s Saturday-Sunday TA2 doubleheader at Watkins Glen. He started and finished fourth on Saturday, but by laying down the second-fastest lap of the race, he earned a front-row starting spot for the Sunday race alongside polesitter and defending TA2 champion Rafa Matos. By the time the field reached turn two on Sunday, Mosack had cleared Matos. The 23-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, went on to hold the lead for all 30 laps, taking the checkered flag by .272 of a second ahead of runner-up Tyler Kicera.
Mosack is back at The Glen as part of a four-car armada from TeamSLR, the family-owned organization run by Scott Lagasse Sr., and Scott Lagasse Jr. Joining Mosack in the 10th race of the 2022 TA2 season is Chris Liesfeld, back for his third outing with the team this season, along with Dillon Machavern and Justin Marks, both of whom are returning to TeamSLR for the second time.
Mosack arrives at The Glen a solid third in the driver standings and atop the leaderboard for the Peter Gregg Foundation Young Gun Award with three races remaining. The driver of the No. 28 Open Eyes/Nacarato Truck Centers/Nic Tailor Custom Fit Underwear Ford Mustang is coming off a strong second-place finish in the series’ most recent race Aug. 6 on the downtown streets of Nashville, Tennessee, where Mosack scored his seventh career TA2 podium and third of the season. He brings that momentum and some added experience at The Glen to this weekend’s event, as Mosack competed in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and ARCA Menards Series races at Watkins Glen three weeks ago. On Aug. 19 in the ARCA race, Mosack was battling for third with three laps to go when he was taken out by another competitor. On Aug. 20 in the Xfinity Series race, Mosack drove from his 13th-place starting spot in the 38-driver field and was battling for a spot among the top-five in the closing laps before having to pit for a shredded tire.
Machavern, the 27-year-old from Charlotte, Vermont, will be behind the wheel of the No. 17 UniFirst/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro for the first time since this year’s season-opener at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, where he qualified eighth and powered his way into the top-five before mechanical gremlins ruined his bid. This weekend marks his milestone 50th career TA2 start since first racing in the series in 2015. Machavern relishes this weekend’s opportunity to race a TA2 car at Watkins Glen, where he has scored multiple victories during his career, including a TA2 win in 2016, and the prestigious Sahlen’s Six-Hour race with powerhouse GTD-class team of Turner Motorsports in 2018. He’ has also scored back-to-back IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge victories at The Glen the past two seasons with co-driver Bill Auberlen. Machavern contested the full TA2 schedule three times in his career with a best result of second in the 2019 championship.
Liesfeld, the 47-year-old who calls Richmond, Virginia, home, is ready for his third race of the season 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. Liesfeld is making his second TA2 appearance in a row after his 19th-place finish in Nashville last month. His first race this season was Memorial Day weekend at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut.
Marks, the 41-year-old from Rocklin, California, is a veteran NASCAR and sportscar racer in his second year as owner of Trackhouse Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, whose drivers Daniel Suárez and Ross Chastain each have scored breakthrough victories this season and are currently competing in the NASCAR Playoffs. Marks will be making his third career TA2 start and first at The Glen this weekend, but he is certainly no stranger to the facility. He co-drove a Meyer-Shank Racing GT Daytona-class entry to victory in the 2019 Sahlen’s Six-Hour race and scored another podium in the endurance classic in 2005 among his 10 sportscar outings at the track. He drove his TeamSLR entry to a fourth-place finish from the sixth starting position in the August 2021 Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, and returned to TeamSLR for this year’s July 3 race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, where he charged to a seventh-place finish from the 28th starting position after battling a mechanical issue in practice and qualifying.
Connor Mosack, driver No. 28 Open Eyes/Nacarato Truck Centers/Nic Tailor Custom Fit Underwear Ford Mustang:
A year ago this month, you scored your first career TA2 win at Watkins Glen. How special was that for you?
“Yeah, it’s definitely special in that Watkins Glen is where we got our first TA2 win. It was a pretty solid weekend all around. We qualified fourth for the Saturday race and pretty much stayed there to the end. And things really went our way on Sunday and we were fortunate enough to capitalize on it. We’re still looking for our first win of this season and we’re hoping we can get it done. We’ve been strong pretty much everywhere we’ve been this year but just haven’t had everything go right on any given weekend, which is what it takes to win in this series, it’s so competitive. Watkins Glen is a place where if we don’t qualify on the pole, we can certainly move our way to the front. And if we do qualify on the pole, I feel it’s a place where I know what needs to be done to defend.”
Watkins Glen has to be fresh on your mind after your double-duty weekend there Aug. 19-20 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and ARCA Menards Series. How do you feel that will benefit you this weekend?
“I think every bit of time on the track helps. It’ll be good to go back there in the TA2 car after racing there in the bigger, heavier stock cars. Those two races didn’t turn out quite like we had hoped for various reasons. In the ARCA race, we were racing for third at the end and just got put off the track and then had to pit for a shredded tire. We had an early issue in the Xfinity race that put us back, but we were able to race our way back up to 15th, so that gave us some good momentum to finish the weekend.”
Those two races took place on the abbreviated, seven-turn Watkins Glen circuit. What will it be like to adjust to the traditional 11-turn layout when you go back for the Trans Am race?
“It’s the more traditional Watkins Glen layout this weekend, for sure, and more fitting for the TA2 cars that are made for road racing. The trickiest part of the track is going up the hill through the esses, and through the bus stop, no matter which circuit they’re using. Running the long course this time, my first priority when we start testing and practice will be getting it just right through (turns) six, seven, eight and nine. When your car is right, it’s a track that flows really well and there are places to make up ground.”
Dillon Machavern, driver No. 17 UniFirst/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro:
You’re back with TeamSLR for the first time since the TA2 season opener in March at Sebring. What keeps you coming back to this series?
“I want to stay involved for a few races to keep the skills sharp because there’s really nothing like a Trans Am car anymore in road racing, other than hopping into a NASCAR car. There’s nothing quite as raw as a TA2 car with no electronics, minimal driver aids. It’s just the driver and the car and nothing else, and I enjoy that. It’s nice to go back to the roots a little bit. It’s just fun. You have to be on it the whole time. The technology in the more modern cars can mask mistakes. In the TA2 car, you don’t have the opportunity to make those mistakes, so it’s really fun to keep those skills sharp.”
What is it like racing a TA2 car at Watkins Glen compared to the several IMSA-class sportscars you’ve raced there during your career?
“I’m proud to say we had a TA2 win there way back in the day. A lot of it is about how you attack the braking zones. In a more sophisticated car with ABS, you just hit the pedal as hard as you can when you come up to the brake zone and just trail out of it to help turn the car. In a TA2 car, you have to roll into the brake hard to slow it down, but you also have to roll out of the brake in a little different fashion to get around the corner because you don’t have that support of the ABS to keep you from locking. It’s all seat-of-the-pants. Obviously, turn one is a big one, because it leads you all the way up through the esses, so getting off turn one is super important. But being an old-school, flowy track, you’ve got to be on it everywhere because there’s nowhere to rest. You’ve got to be up on the wheel the entire lap to be competitive.”
How do you like racing at Watkins Glen, in general?
“I tend to really enjoy the old-school tracks that are designed around the topography more so than the tracks nowadays that are very technical and designed just on a piece of paper. I like the tracks like Watkins Glen, VIR and Road America that are old-school, bad-ass, fast tracks. You can get into a flow, but you also have to hold on because things come up on you pretty quickly. There’s also a lot of passing opportunities at those tracks. I just like the tracks where you can really let the cars run. You can carry a lot of speed and have hard braking zones where you can pass. That’s what I really enjoy about it.”
Chris Liesfeld, driver No. 96 Fields Racing/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro:
This weekend’s race at Watkins Glen will be your first of any kind at the track. Talk about that.
“I’m certainly excited about it. I’ve never been there before. It’s always fun going to a new track. It’s definitely going to be night-and-day different from my last race at Nashville. It’s a little more high-speed corners, nice elevation change, and it’s the type of racing I prefer – I like that style of track. I’m excited, ready to do it. Watkins Glen has been on my bucket list of tracks to run for a long time.”
How have you prepared for your first career race at The Glen?
“I’ve been working a little bit on the sim – a little bit, not as much as I’d have liked to. But what I’ve done I feel will be enough. It’s gotten me pretty familiar with the layout of the track. And I think I’ve prepared well enough and I think I know the track well enough to get out there and try to get up to speed pretty quickly. This type of track is something I prefer over the ones with tight corners and the point-and-shoot style of racing. The corners are more high-speed and sweeping. There are a couple of tighter corners. And everybody talks about the bus stop, which is a feature of Watkins Glen, like ‘Oak Tree’ at VIR."
You’re fresh off the previous TA2 round at Nashville, albeit four weekends ago. Will that help you get up to speed more quickly this weekend at The Glen?
“When you see that I finished 19th at Nashville, it may not look like the most impressive result, but considering I came from 39th on the grid, I feel like it gives me some momentum for this weekend, for sure. We had an issue in qualifying that forced us to abort the session. But, obviously, everything was working well on raceday and we were able to pick up all those spots, which on a temporary street course is not an easy thing to do, as everyone knows. I’m glad to have another chance to get back to it at a track like Watkins Glen.”
Justin Marks, driver No. 99 M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro:
Like Road America, where you last raced with TeamSLR on July 4 weekend, you’ve logged a lot of laps and have enjoyed success in your career at Watkins Glen. What do you like about it?
“I love this track because it’s a driver’s track. There are a lot of passing opportunities and the track has a really nice flow. It’s truly a classic American road-racing circuit.”
What would you say are the biggest challenges of making your way around Watkins Glen?
“I’d say one of the biggest challenges is getting the car to work well everywhere. It has high-speed, high-risk corners, but it also has very technical, slower sections, so it places a premium on a well-balanced racecar.”
You rallied from far back in the field for a strong, seventh-place finish at Road America in July. Talk about that.
“We struggled with an issue with the car in qualifying that the team did a great job of diagnosing and fixing before the race. We had to start back in 29th, but the car was great in the race, and I just had to manage risk and let the race come back to us a bit, and it turned out well.”
You’re also driving in the Sunday Trans Am race at Watkins Glen this weekend. Safe to say you’re looking forward to pulling double duty?
“I just love to drive racecars, so if I’m going to spend four days away from home at a racetrack, I want to be on track as much as possible. I think the added track time will just help the process of really understanding what it’s going to take to be successful and, hopefully, contend to win both races.”
Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway more than 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.
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