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Gar Robinson and Shane Lewis Secure One-Two Finish for Robinson Racing

It was Gar Robinson who emerged victorious over a field of 32 other TA2 competitors in the FirstEnergy Muscle Car Challenge, presented by 3-Dimensional Services at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The 20-year-old rookie pilot of the No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro endured a furious top-five battle that lasted the majority of the race to secure his first career Trans Am win.

George Robinson, Gar’s father and owner of Robinson Racing, competed in the Trans Am Series in the early 90s. Now, his son carries on that Trans Am legacy in TA2 under the same number and livery.

“My dad always did well here,” said Robinson, “and honestly I came into the race not exactly all that excited about it. I didn’t feel like I was that strong here, but obviously that’s not how it worked out. It was a good race and I love battling like that, there’s nothing like fighting for the lead—it’s what racing is all about. Unfortunately, there was some bumping and rubbing out there; and I’ll admit it wasn’t my cleanest race. We were just fighting hard and at times racing inches away from each other.”

Robinson was joined on the podium by his teammate Shane Lewis, driver of the No. 72 Robinson Racing Chevrolet Camaro, securing Robinson Racing a one-two finish.

“This being my first win and being up there with Shane—there’s nothing like it, there’s not much more that could have gone better. We came in here with the objective of closing the gap in the points, we want to make sure we’re there at the end of the year and this win went a long way towards that goal.”

“I’m really so happy for the team,” said Lewis. “For me to second, Gar first, I really couldn’t be happier. He’s now second in the Championship, and we’re pushing hard—our goal as a team is to win a Championship. If it’s him or me, it doesn’t matter, we’re doing this together.”

Adam Andretti, pilot of the No. 44 Engineered Components Chevrolet Camaro, joined the Robinson Racing duo on the podium in a sweep for the Chevrolet model—its second of the year.

The race began with two-time defending Champion Cameron Lawrence, driver of the No. 1 MOPAR Dodge Challenger, on pole with Lewis alongside, Robinson third with Tony Buffomante, driver of the No. 34 Bestline Superior Lubricants Ford Mustang, in fourth and Lawrence Loshak, driver of the No. 5 Raybestos Powertrain Ford Mustang, rounding out the starting top five.

Lewis would immediate surge ahead of Lawrence on the first lap, starting what would be a 22-lap long battle with the defending champion, with Lawrence regaining the lead on the fifth lap as the two cars raced nose-to-tail throughout the 17-turn Mid-Ohio course. Behind them Robinson continued to hold third, dealing with the advances of both Loshak and a surging Andretti as well.

Eventually the top three separated themselves from the rest of the field by over a dozen car lengths, only to see that lead dissipate on the 14th lap of the race as the field underwent the first, and only, full course yellow to retrieve a stalled car on the outside of turn two.

The field restarted on the 17th lap and Lewis again struck on the start overtaking Lawrence once more for the lead, one he held until the 22nd lap of the race when, after building up a several car length lead, the No. 72 spun in oil, plummeting down to 12th position. Lawrence assumed the lead, but only briefly, as Robison surged ahead on the 23rd lap to gain the lead. Andretti, who had begun the race in eighth position, made a move of his own, capturing third for the No. 44.

Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 UniFirst/PPG Ford Mustang, moved up into the top five for the first time in the race, overtaking Loshak for fourth position. A train of nearly ten TA2 cars wound their way through the course with nearly every position in contention—with multiple cars racing side-by-side.

On the 26th lap of the race, the No. 1 of Lawrence and No. 44 of Andretti made contact through a turn and Andretti briefly went off track falling back to fourth, allowing Machavern to assume third. The top four continued in the order of Robinson, Lawrence, Machavern and Andretti for 15 laps.

Meanwhile, Lewis was making a surge of his own slowly and constantly pushing up through the field, moving from 12th position to 5th over the course of 12 laps—once more throwing his hat into the ring for a podium finish.

The race had one more shuffle in store for both the drivers and fans. With only three laps remaining, Machavern passed Lawrence for second while Andretti closed the gap on the top three. While Robinson stayed ahead, Machavern, Lawrence and Andretti all raced nearly side-by-side, shifting from two to three cars wide almost constantly, with the cars barely inches away from each other. Eventually, both Lawrence and Machavern went off course; and while Machavern was able to continue, the No. 1 Challenger had suffered a tire puncture, effectively ending the champion’s day.

Andretti was forced to slow to avoid the incidents ahead of him, allowing Lewis to shoot ahead into second, completing a near mercurial recovery to the podium while Robinson crossed the finish line for his first Trans Am win, followed by Lewis and Andretti in sequence. Machavern finished fourth while Tony Buffomante, after mounting a comeback of his own, finished fifth.

The result had a drastic impact on the TA2 Championship point standings which is shaping up to be one of the closest in TA2 history. While Lawrence, who finished 17th, still holds the lead, he saw his lead over Robinson diminished to only six points, with 172 to 166. Machavern and Andretti now stand third and fourth with 158 and 151 points, while Shane Lewis holds fifth position with 151 points.

Lewis also set a new TA2 track record in his recovery, turning a 1:27.929.

Trans Am will hold an additional race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course tomorrow with the TA and TA2 classes taking to the track for the Next Dimension 100, presented by First Energy at 12:50 p.m. ET.

How to watch:

The FirstEnergy Muscle Car Challenge, presented by 3-Dimensional Services, featuring TA2, will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network on Saturday, September 5, at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Source: Trans Am Series, www.gotransam.com
Photo Credit: Chris Clark

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