Preview: Trans Am TA2 at Nashville

Party in the Music City
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli heads to Nashville, Tenn. for the second running of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, where the TA2 class will go head-to-head in the Big Machine Vodka Spiked Cooler Challenge, sharing the bill with IndyCar, Indy Lights, SRO Motorsports Group and the Stadium SUPER Trucks. The marquee event, which is expected to host 100,000 race fans during the weekend, also includes military demonstrations, Pro Watercross on the Cumberland, a fireworks display and concerts by Tim McGraw, Aaron Lewis, Brantley Gilbert and Carly Pearce. This weekend’s entry list boasts 40 competitors, topping last year’s field of 37.

The Party Before the Party: FanFest on Broadway
On Thursday night before on-track action begins, the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix will be hosting FanFest on Broadway. The free event will be held on Broadway in downtown Nashville between 1st Avenue S and 4th Avenue S between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. local time.

The event will feature show cars, sponsor displays, a Mini Grand Prix, a Stadium SUPER Trucks exhibition, and an IndyCar Pit Stop Challenge where teams will vie for $10,000 in prize money.

The Trans Am Series will have seven race cars on display, with drivers in attendance to sign autographs and give out free swag:

• Dylan Archer’s No. 0 MMR/FPEC Racing Group Ford Mustang
• Michele Abbate’s No. 30 GHOST Energy Ford Mustang
• Scott Borchetta’s No. 48 Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers Ford Mustang
• Brent Crews’ No. 70 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang
• Thomas Merrill’s No. 26 BridgeHaul/HP Tuners/Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang
• Connor Mosack’s No. 28 Nic Tailor/IFS-SLR/M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro
• Ken Thwaits’ No. 4 Franklin Road Apparel Chevrolet Camaro

Denise Stefanie to sing National Anthem for Trans Am race
Singer, songwriter and producer Denise Stefanie will sing the national anthem prior to engines firing up for Saturday’s Trans Am race. Stefanie recently announced the release of her new single, “All In,” in support of Race for RP and the Relapsing Polychondritis Foundation to raise awareness and advance research for the rare autoimmune disease. Stefanie is an accomplished artist who has performed across the country as lead vocalist with Cirque du Soleil. The music video for the song features footage of Race for RP drivers, team members and supporters of the initiative.

CBS Sports Network air times
This weekend’s TA2 race broadcast from the Music City Grand Prix, presented by Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers and Race for RP, will air on CBS Sports Network the week following the event.

The Big Machine Vodka Spiked Cooler Challenge will first air on Saturday, August 13 at 7:30 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation Sunday, August 14 at 1:00 a.m. ET.

Local driver/owners come home to Music City
Tennessee is home to only two drivers in this weekend’s TA2 field, but the impact of those driver/owners looms large in the city of Nashville.

Scott Borchetta, driver of the No. 48 Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers Ford Mustang, calls Nashville home. Currently ninth in the TA2 standings, Borchetta comes into this weekend with momentum, with three-consecutive top-10 finishes in the last three events. In addition to being a fierce competitor and owner of Scott Borchetta Racing in Trans Am, Borchetta owns Big Machine Racing, which runs in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and earned its first win with Trans Am alum Tyler Reddick earlier this year at Texas Motor Speedway. Prior to his racing endeavors, Borchetta founded Big Machine Label Group (entitlement sponsor of the Music City Grand Prix) and acquired Big Machine Distillery (producer of Big Machine Vodka).

Ken Thwaits, owner of Showtime Motorsports, competes full-time in the Trans Am TA class, where he currently sits second in the standings. This weekend he gets behind the wheel of the No. 4 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro with teammate and full-time TA2 driver Cameron Lawrence, who is eighth in the TA2 championship battle. From nearby Brentwood, Tenn., Thwaits is also the CEO of Franklin Road Apparel, which is located 20 miles from the Music City Grand Prix in Franklin, Tenn.

New winner guaranteed
With only one event in the books for the Music City Grand Prix, there is only one previous winner: Mike Skeen. Skeen earned the victory in the 2021 event, but is not competing this year, which means we are guaranteed to see a new winner in this weekend’s race. Piloting Skeen’s 89 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang this weekend is Guy Cosmo. Cosmo made his Trans Am debut at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course earlier this year, earning a fifth-place finish.

Last year’s top-finishing drivers in this year’s field are Thomas Merrill and Connor Mosack, who landed on the podium with second and third-place finishes, respectively.

Brent Crews is breaking records
At just 14 years, three months, and four days old, Brent Crews became the youngest winner in the history of the Trans Am Series after dominating the TA2 event at Road America. The day prior, Crews earned the title of youngest Motul Pole Award winner at 14 years, three months and three days old. The North Carolina native now sits fourth in the point standings, just 11 points behind third place and 44 points out of the lead.

Making history is nothing new for Crews, who became the youngest National Midget feature winner at 13 years old in 2021. That season, he won five races, two more than the series champion.

Race Liberante making Trans Am Series debut
This weekend in Nashville, karting star Race Liberante will be making his Trans Am Series debut at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. The Race Factory owner will drive the No. 59 Armada Analytics/Innoviv/Race Factory Ford Mustang for B2 Motorsports. Liberante has experience in various racing disciplines, including karts, Legend Cars, NASCAR late models, Spec Miata, GT3 Cup, USF2000, Formula 4 U.S. Championship Powered by Honda and more, winning more than a dozen championships.

Tight points race now has tie for lead
TA2 heads into Round 9 of the 2022 season with a tie for the lead in the championship standings and a tight points race. In the series’ last outing at Road America, a third-place finish was enough for Thomas Merrill to tie Rafa Matos in the No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang for the points lead. Merrill has been on a roll since Sonoma Raceway, with two wins (Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio) and four straight podium finishes. Matos matches Merrill with two victories in 2022 (Sebring International Raceway, Sonoma), but trails him in podium finishes this season (three total, verses six). Connor Mosack is third in the point standings, 33 points behind the leaders, with Brent Crews and Mike Skeen not far behind in fourth and fifth.

Rookie standings & Young Gun update
The Wilwood TA2 Rookie Standings and Peter Gregg Foundation Young Gun Standings remain one of the closest point battles of the year, with several drivers in the hunt. Brent Crews’ win at Road America was enough to overcome Evan Slater in the No. 35 Cube3 Architecture Camaro for both the Rookie Standings lead and fourth place in the championship standings. Crews now holds a 13-point advantage over Slater and a 47-point lead over third-place Dylan Archer.

Connor Mosack continues to lead the Young Gun standings by 11 points over Crews and appears poised to take his first victory very soon. Slater is now third in the Young Gun points.

Full championship, rookie and Young Gun standings can be found here.