The third round of the Trans Am Series’ TA2 category found your usaautomotivesupply.com, PREFIX, Berryman Products, Stevens-Miller Dodge Challengers riding high on the banks and infield of the Homestead Miami Speedway competing against 22 entries. The event featured a tight field with the first 12 cars all qualifying within one second.
This weekend Henri Tuomaala from Finland was behind the wheel of the number 11 Berryman, Prefix, usaautomotivesupply.com, Dodge featuring Berryman logo on the doors and the infamous “Chemtooler” on the roof. Tuomaala with his experience running V8 Thunder Cars Finland where he finished second in the 2016 & 2017 championships took to the American version immediately. Tuomaala consistently ran in the top six in every session and qualified fourth overall. The race featured two full course cautions and on the first restart Tuomaala got passed by a couple of cars in turn one as the entire pack jostled for position. When the checker flag flew Tuomaala finished an exceptional seventh overall. “A great race and a really great experience racing here in the US. The team did a fantastic job preparing the car and was really fun to race. I’ve never driven on a high banked track or experienced the draft so the race was challenging but I’m really happy with my performance,” Tuomaala said.
Following Tuomaala across the line in eighth was Ethan Wilson in our #49 Lifograph, Western Grinding, Liqui Moly, usaautomotivesupply.com, Stevens-Miller Racing Dodge. Wilson struggled in practice and went off in turn one during Saturday’s final practice heavily damaging the front bodywork and splitter of his bright orange Challenger. With only a couple of hours to repair the car prior to qualifying it was all hands on deck in the Stevens-Miller pit.
“What the team did to get my car ready for qualifying was amazing,” Wilson said. “Besides the damage the team made changes in our set up including changing all four shocks and springs. It was hot, humid and not one mechanic even stopped for lunch. I could not be more impressed with Joe Stevens and his team-their effort was truly above and beyond,” he said. In qualifying Wilson came to grips with his car and qualified within one second of the pole in 12th.
During the race it was Wilson’s time to repay the crew for their efforts and he was immediately one of the fastest on the track. Cutting consistent laps and managing his tires while taking advantage of mistakes by others Wilson picked off the competition one at a time showing maturity and race craft beyond his experience at this level. “I had my doubts this weekend but after seeing what the crew did I knew I needed to up my game. We had a fan walk while on pregrid where we got to sign autographs and meet the fans and I really enjoyed it! I think it really helped me to relax and put me in a good spot mentally for the race. I attacked the infield section and changed up my line on the high bank and everything came together. I’m thrilled with eighth and finishing in the top ten for the second time this year.”
Team leader Marc Miller in his #12 Berryman, Prefix, usaautomotivesupply.com, Stevens-Miller Racing Dodge Challenger was another consistent front runner qualifying in seventh. ‘The field was super tight this weekend with only a few hundredths of a second separating us in qualiying” Miller said.
Miller’s race did not go as well after taking evasive action to avoid hitting teammate Tuomaala sent him into the sand tearing off the front splitter. “I pitted during the first caution and the team removed the damaged splitter and put on fresh right side tires. After that the car was a rocket in the infield but was a total handful on the banking,” Miller said. Miller took the checker in 14th one lap down.
The Berryman, Prefix, usaautomotivesupply, Stevens-Miller Racing’s next challenge comes in June at the Detroit GP where TA2 will be featured at the Belle Isle street course along with IndyCar and IMSA. We hope to see you there!