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Large Fields Expected for Trans Am 2020 Opener at Sebring

SEBRING, Fla. (20 February 2020)- The 54th Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli season will launch this weekend (February 28-March 1) at the same track that hosted the first-ever Trans Am race as the series returns to Sebring International for the season-opener.

With nearly 60 fire-breathing machines fielded by a deep roster of talented drivers backed by strong teams, the 2020 Trans Am season will open with two races on Sunday, featuring five classes of competition. Sunday will see the combined TA, Xtreme GT, SuperGT and GT race on Sebring’s notoriously bumpy 3.74-mile circuit on Sunday morning ahead of the TA2® powered by AEM race in the afternoon.

The entry list features drivers from 21 states, hailing from as far as Abu Dhabi and Canada. The 2020 season will see Trans Am race across 12 states on an all-star roster of North American tracks, and will close at the Circuit of The Americas in November, followed by the Trans Am Awards Ceremony set to be hosted at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Austin, Texas.

“We are extremely excited to start our 54th Trans Am season,” said President of Trans Am Race Company John Clagett. “It’s been a really productive off-season to continue to build our paddock and our audience. We are looking forward to some exciting announcements and some tremendous racing. The grids for all the classes continue to grow and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for our series.”

Trans Am rivals Ernie Francis Jr. (No. 98 One South Florida Wealth Advisors Ford Mustang) and Chris Dyson (No. 20 Plaid Ford Mustang) return to the TA lineup for another championship bout this year after fighting all the way to the finish for the 2019 title. Francis Jr. emerged on top, claiming his sixth national Trans Am series championship across three classes.

“We are really excited to return to the Trans Am Series in 2020,” said Dyson. “It will be our third season competing for the full National championship, and we feel better prepared than ever. I’m confident that we will have a competitive season, and the aim is to be finishing every race trouble-free. We have shown plenty of pace and consistency and we know how to win. We have grown as a team the past two seasons and we are ready to roll.”

Francis Jr.’s thirst for victory has not been quenched and the 22-year-old will start his fourth-consecutive TA championship chase outfitted with a new orange and black livery backed by a new team partner.

“We couldn’t be happier coming back to the Trans Am series to defend our TA title,” said Francis Jr. “We are also proud to announce a new title sponsor One South Florida Wealth Advisors along with a new livery for the 2020 season.”

While Dyson and Francis Jr. are looking to continue their championship duel, there are several contenders looking to join that fight. The high-horsepower field will see 2015 Sebring TA winner and 2016 Trans Am champion Amy Ruman (No. 23 McNichols Co. Chevrolet Corvette), 2012 Trans Am Champion Simon Gregg (No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro), 2019 Northern Cup TA winner Adam Andretti (No. 43 ECC/Anchor Bolt & Screw Dodge Challenger) and Tomy Drissi (No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro) all looking for a new Crystal Sensations hardware this weekend to launch their 2020 campaigns.

In preparation for his fourth decade in motorsport competition, Gregg visited Sebring International Raceway earlier this year to shake off the winter rust.

“It is a new decade and I am getting pumped up for the first Trans Am race just around the corner,” stated Gregg, driver of the No. 59 Chevrolet Corvette. “Sebring should be a good start to the season although having already been down there in January for a club race it will be my second time running there already this year.”

Seventy-five-year-old Trans Am great Kerry Hitt will return behind the wheel of his No. 19 Advanced Composite Products Inc. Cadillac CTS-V for another season of TA Master Class competition.

The roster of contenders in TA2® powered by AEM continues to get more crowded with IndyCar veterans, NASCAR legends, IMSA greats and youthful rookies filling out the entry list with a strong 29-car field for the stand-alone TA2 ® race on Sunday.

Reigning TA2® champion Marc Miller will not return to defend his title, leaving the door wide open for championship challengers like Rafa Matos, Cameron Lawrence and Thomas Merrill.

Last season, Matos opened the year with a pair of wins at Sebring and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, but missed rounds at WeatherTech Racing Laguna Seca and Circuit of The Americas saw the former IndyCar pilot come home third in the 2019 championship standings.

Matos partnered with Silver Hare Racing for a full-time championship effort in 2020. Wheeling the No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro, Matos is looking forward to opening a new chapter in his Trans Am history

“I finished last season with Silver Hare Racing at Daytona,” said Matos. “We had a great Daytona weekend, the team was fantastic and I was very impressed with everyone’s positive attitude.  The owners, Maurice and Laura (Hull), are doing it properly, they have a passion for the sport. The new Camaro looks so fast, and with our Prefix Engines under the hood, I can’t wait to find new roads to victory lane!”

But, a new team and a new whip for Matos might not be enough to edge out returning two-time TA2® champion Lawrence from swiping the open title. Following a two-year hiatus from the Trans Am Series, Lawrence will join Peterson Racing, Matos’ former team, for a full-season in the No. 8 3-Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro, the same car Matos drove to a championship in 2018.

Lawrence competed in the Trans Am Series with Miller Racing from 2012 to 2015, where he clenched two back-to-back Trans Am Championships, and returned to the Trans Am Series in 2017 for a full-season campaign with Class Auto Motorsports. Lawrence’s lengthy history in the Trans Am Series positions him in first for all-time TA2®class wins.

Lawrence’s teammate and team principal Doug Peterson will drive the No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang, and is a two-time TA winner at Sebring (2013-14).

“I’m excited to join Peterson Racing for a full-season championship effort in the Trans Am Series,” said Lawrence. “I’m very appreciative of Doug Peterson for this opportunity and the support of 3-Dimensional Services Group as our primary sponsor for the season. Doug has assembled a strong team at Peterson Racing, combined with the support of a long-time partner, Howe Racing Enterprises, and I look forward to getting behind the wheel of our 3-Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro next month at Sebring International Raceway.”

Starting the 2019 season as a Trans Am West Coast driver then shifting to the National series mid-season, Thomas Merrill and Big Diehl Racing merged with Mike Cope Racing (MCR) for 2020 in hopes to create a powerhouse partnership to contest for a full season in TA2®. Merrill will pilot the familiar No. 81 Diehl-Merrill Racing Ford Mustang with the continued support from Concept Part Solutions.

“We’re thrilled to partner with MCR for the 2020 Trans Am season,” expressed an excited Merrill. “The 2019 season could not have gone better for us and MCR with two wins in two races, and that bodes well for us as we go into 2020.”

Scott Lagasse Jr. and Misha Goikhberg both look to be strong factors in the TA2® championship once again.

The youth movement to TA2® also continues this season with 18-year-old John Paul Southern Jr. (No. 61 / Southern Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro) and 15-year-old Florida-native Jett Noland (No. 99 Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang) entered for Sebring.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to get behind the wheel of one of Mike Cope’s TA2® race cars,” said Noland. “Everyone in the paddock knows the Cope name is synonymous with speed. I can’t wait to get down to Sebring.”

The new XGT class is focused on 2016 and earlier FIA GT3 and slots in between the Trans Am and TA2 ® classes. The new class adds a European dimension to the Trans Am scene, with two Audi R8s, an Aston Martin and a Porsche set to take the green on Sunday.

Showtime Motorsports will be fielding two Audi entries in the class debut. Team Principal Ken Thwaits had a great showing in 2019 in a partial season which included a victory at CoTA driving his No. 5 Franklin Road Apparel Audi R8 GT3 Ultra.

The SuperGT and GT classes will share the track with the top TA and XGT classes, as the category is expected to see continued growth in 2020.

With 11 SGT cars slated for Sebring, the top three championship finishers in the SGT class are expected to return in 2020. Mark Boden is seeking his fifth career and fourth-consecutive SGT victory at Sebring in the No. 46 Beverage Flavors International Porsche 991 GT3 Cup. Tom Herb (No. 16 Fall-Line Motorsports Porsche 991 GT3 Cup) and Tim Kezman (No. 44 Lemons of Love Porsche 991 GT3 Cup) also return to challenge for top honors.

Aaron Pierce will play iron man this weekend, driving in back-to-back 60-minute features in both the SGT (No. 26 Logical Systems/ Sam Pierce Chevy Chevrolet Corvette) and TA2® (No. 2 Sam Pierce Chevrolet Chevrolet Camaro) rounds.

The GT class will see Ford and Porsche battle the championship-winning Aston Martin with Billy Griffin (No. 14 Griffin Auto Care/Sheehan’s Towing Ford Mustang), Tim Horrell (No. 45 Breathless Racing Porsche GT4 Clubsport) and 2019 champion Steven Davidson (No. 22 Davinci Plastic Surgery Aston Martin Vantage) all entered in the production-based category for Sunday’s sprint.

The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will join the SVRA Sebring Vintage Classic in a thrilling weekend mixing great race cars from the past and present.

Each of the five Trans Am classes will have testing sessions on Friday to open on-track activities. Saturday begins with practice at 11:00 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying for each of the classes beginning at 4:55 p.m. Sunday features two 60-minute races with the mixed class of TA/XGT/SGT/GT taking the green at 11:10 a.m. followed by a massive TA2® powered by AEM field lining up at 1:25 p.m. ET.

An autograph session will be held at noon on Saturday. Location updates will be released on the series social media channels (@gotransam). Fan will get another chance to meet their favorite drivers during the fan walks that will happen on Sunday prior to each race.