The first of the two TC America powered by Skip Barber races at Watkins Glen was marked by small gaps from start to finish and plenty of exciting passes.
After a relatively clean start across the grid, Jacob Ruud (No. 1 Fast Track Racing BMW M2 CS (Cup)) and teammate Garrett Adams (No. 54 Fast Track Racing BMW M2 CS (Cup)) sped away from the rest of the field, creating a gap to the competitors behind while simultaneously battling for the top spot. Meanwhile, a battle for third was taking place between Stephen Cugliari (No. 57 Accelerating Performance BMW M2 CS (Cup)) and Lucas Catania in his No. 26 Rigid Speed BMW M2 CS (Cup).
After only 13 minutes of racing, Ruud entered the pits with a front-left puncture, giving the initial impression that his chances at a podium finish were slim after claiming pole position earlier in the day.
A full-course caution occurred on the following lap, allowing Ruud to return to the track without losing a lap to the leaders, which reignited the team’s hope.
With 15 minutes to go following the restart, Colin Garrett (No. 44 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M2 CS (Cup)) was leading the way in the TCX class. He came under threat from Cugliari for the win.
Cugliari’s chances of a podium finish were lost when he made contact with the No. 30 HARD Motorsport BMW M2 CS (Cup) car of Steve Streimer at Turn 1 with six minutes remaining. Meanwhile, Ruud made a comeback to take second place in the closing stages of the race.
Garrett and Ruud crossed the finish line separated by only 0.469s, with Ruud getting the fastest lap. Adams rounded out the podium in his No. 54 Fast Track Racing BMW M2 CS (Cup), ahead of Brett Scroggin, Olivia Askew, Streimer, Joseph Catania, Jessica Tracy, Lucas Catania, and Cugliari.
This was Garrett’s third win of the season and allowed him to gain seven valuable points on TCX championship points leader Ruud.
“I thought I had a comfortable gap but I looked in my mirrors and saw Ruud coming from behind and realized I had to go! ” exclaimed Garrett in his post-race interview on pit lane. “I picked up the pace and we ended up having a good race. I made sure I kept the pressure on him [Ruud] and thankfully we had a good car and we were able to claim the victory. The aim is to just keep chipping away at it for the championship points!”
TC pole sitter Clay Williams in his No. 60 JCW Team MINI Pro TC was quickly able to build a 1.5s lead over Jeff Ricca (No. 78 Genracer/Ricca Autosport Hyundai Veloster N DCT TC) in the opening laps of the race. Meanwhile, Kevin Boehm (No. 9 CrowdStrike Racing with Skip Barber Honda Civic Type-R), Nicholas Barbato (No. 88 Genracer/Ricca Autosport Hyundai Veloster N TC) and Matthew Ibrahim (No. 6 DRS & Garagistic BMW M240iR) were battling it out for third place.
A caution came out 15 minutes into the race, caused by Ricca who stopped on track at the start/finish line. Immediately after the restart, the battle for third place resumed once again.
Williams led the race from start to finish in an impressive display of on-track dominance for his second win of the year. Boehm and Barbato completed the podium — the second consecutive podium finish for Barbato. Boehm maintains his TC championship points lead having scored five wins in the first seven races.
Williams remarked that, “Overall it was one of the toughest races I had. We have been developing this car all season and we are still working the bugs out. I’m super thankful to everyone at LAP Motorsports, Joey’s Coffee Co, and Donate Life America. Starting from the front tomorrow. Looking forward to it!”
The win moved Williams from fourth to second place in TC championship points, leapfrogging both Mat Pombo (No. 37 LA Honda World Honda Civic Type-R) and Ricca. The MINI team was racing in honor of legendary MINI racer Paddy Hopkirk who passed away at age 89 earlier in the week.
Qualifying on pole, Gresham Wagner (No. 21 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ) led for the first 30 minutes of the event but was under pressure from Spencer Bucknum (No. 5 LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic Si) and Cristian Perocarpi (No. 61 JCW Team MINI) up until the caution.
As soon as the race restarted, the top five cars battled wheel-to-wheel across several laps. Wagner, Bucknum, Perocarpi, PJ Groenke and Carter Fartuch were separated by less than a second.
The race ended prematurely for Wagner and Groenke (No. 62 JCW Team MINI), as mechanical problems plagued both of them.
In the end, the win went to Perocarpi, ahead of Fartuch (No. 16 Skip Barber Racing Honda Civic Si) and Tyler Delgado (No. 33 Bryan Herta Autosport W/ CURB-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N-Line). Bucknum and Colin Harrison (No. 5 Skip Barber Racing Honda Civic Si) just missed the podium. This was the first win of the year for Perocarpi and gave MINI their first double race win with victories in both TC and TCA. It was also a season best performance by Delgado who enjoyed his first podium finish.
Perocarpi remarked, “It’s nice to get my first win, after having spent many summers at the Glen as a kid. It was definitely a hard race – to quote my mechanic it was ‘redonkulous.’ I’d like to thank my team, MINI, my parents, and everyone in the paddock. This win is for Paddy Hopkirk. I can’t wait to get to Road America.”
With rivals Wagner and Anderson having problems, Fartuch extended his TCA championship points lead. In seven races so far, he has scored three wins and has been on the podium in all seven races.
Watkins Glen International was covered with clouds overhead, yet not a single drop mixed into the TC America powered by Skip Barber party on track. With humidity in the air, Ruud claimed his fifth win of the season, but eyes were turned towards the intense battle between Colin Garrett and Catania, who didn’t give each other any breathing space for the entire race.
Ruud dominated the race, taking the lead in the first few laps at the expense of yesterday’s race winner, Colin Garrett. Ruud pulled a significant gap and could not be caught by the runner-up behind, taking the win in front of his family, friends, and students from the RIT Formula SAE team (where he recently graduated).
“It was a long race,” Ruud said. “There were a lot of laps and corners to pass people on. I saw those guys fighting in front of me and saw an opportunity happen and just went for it, and I was able to make it stick.”
After a somewhat uneventful start, the most spectacular battle of the race was for second place, as Catania and Garrett battled it out for the entirety of the 40-minute event. They were never separated by more than half a second, crossing the finish line with a gap of 0.323s in favor of Catania. Garrett, who set the fastest lap, rounded off the podium.
Leading from the start, Williams saw his lead melt away towards the end of the race, to the benefit of Boehm, who took the lead with only five minutes to go and eventually take the TC class victory.
During the first few laps, while Williams had initially managed to accumulate a two-second lead over the rest of the field, a lot of action was taking place between six drivers battling for second place.
This pack was then reduced with Matthew Ibrahim (No. 6 DRS & Garagistic BMW M240iR) being the victim of a spin.
The Sunday podium trio was the same as Saturday, but in a different order. Boehm won the race, closely followed by Barbato in his best ever performance. Race one winner Williams claimed the final spot on the podium.
Pombo and Fukuda rounded out the Top 5.
“You don’t go into many races thinking that you don’t have a chance to win, but today I honestly was just trying to get to the podium and I was going to be really happy if we could just do that,” said Boehm on pit lane. “Sometimes the race just goes your way, little moments at a time. It was a lot of just being in the right place at the right time, but we just had a really great car to put us in a position to get lucky. I can’t thank the Skip Barber Racing Team enough for a great car all weekend. I’m so happy to get CrowdStrike and AWS on the top step again today.”
Wagner claimed another victory in the TCA class. After getting a perfect start, he remained in the lead for the entire race and stayed out of trouble. This was Wagner’s fourth win of the year and he has now won one race at each of the four tracks contested.
“It was just about getting back on track,” stated Wagner. “We had a couple of bad races; we could have won VIR and should have been on the podium yesterday. It’s great to finally get a good result again, thanks to TechSport’s hard work, K1 Race Gear and my crew chief. We just have to keep doing what we do. I’m glad to get a win again.”
Wagner won ahead of teammate Devin Anderson (No. 22 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ), completing an impressive one-two finish for the team. Fartuch completed the podium just 0.478s ahead of Mika Lamarra in the No. 77 LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic Si. Shaoyi Che in the No. 23 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ rounded out the top five.
The next race weekend for TC America is August 19-21 at Road America.