TA: Dyson sweeps at Watkins Glen

At the same track where his professional racing career began two decades ago, Chris Dyson won both ends of the Trans Am by Pirelli doubleheader at Watkins Glen International. Dyson’s wins aboard his #20 ALTWELL CBD Ford Mustang in both Saturday’s and Sunday’s 100-mile sprint races, his fifth and sixth victories in the nine races that have been run so far this season. Dyson has now established a commanding lead in the championship point standing with only two races left on the schedule.

Chris Dyson

“To win two in a row here at Watkins Glen is just terrific,” Dyson said, following Sunday’s wreck-strewn event, where he won a late-race shootout with Boris Said following a red flag that froze the field in the pits with seven laps remaining in the 30-lap contest. “I’m glad the officials paused the race and didn’t let it end under caution. That set us up for a real battle and a flat-out charge to the finish. That is what Trans Am is all about. The car was absolutely flying, especially at the end.”

Indeed, Dyson set the race’s fastest lap, just pipping teammate Guy Smith, on the penultimate tour.

“The car was just brilliant today, Dyson said as he climbed from his car. “We made a few tweaks overnight and really got it back in the right window. The car was even better than it was on Saturday.

Saturday’s race was less of an artistic triumph. Dyson was leading late in the race when an accident occurred. Dyson slowed as the track went full-course yellow, but Tomy Drissi, following closely in his Chevrolet Camaro, missed the yellow, hit the #20 Mustang from behind and steamed past Dyson. Though his team had been asked by race officials to give the lead back to Dyson before the race restarted, Drissi failed to do so. Dyson was declared the winner when a 40-second post-race penalty was assessed by the officials for passing under yellow. That dropped Drissi, who had entered the weekend as Dyson’s closest competitor for the championship, to 21st place overall and sixth in the TA class.

“I understand how when I slowed for the yellow Tomy could have missed it,” Dyson said. “He was driving as hard as he could. When I slowed, not seeing the yellow himself, he just went for it. The Trans Am officials made the right call in the end.”

Drissi’s Sunday wasn’t much better. A problem while chasing Dyson late in the race caused Drissi to crash, dropping him to seventh place in the TA class. Drissi emerged from the weekend still in second place in the title chase. Ernie Francis, Jr., the only other driver with a plausible shot at the title going into the weekend, started both races from the pole and led laps, but mechanical problems relegated the defending series champion to eighth place in TA on Saturday and sixth on Sunday.

“Fortune has been smiling on us,” Dyson said. “The past couple of seasons we were fast and competitive enough to have won the championship, and we won enough races. But our mechanical reliability wasn’t where it needed to be, which really cost us in consistency. I’m not taking anything for granted and we are taking this one race at a time. But everything has come together this season and I have to give my team credit for consistently giving me a fast a reliable car on race day all season.”

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