With a stable Trans Am presented by Pirelli rules package that delivers close racing, powerful machines that skip the driver aids and put the racing in the drivers hands, and a schedule that includes some of the most iconic race tracks on the continent, the TA2 powered by AEM class has become a popular choice for up-and-coming NASCAR talent.
Combining the prowess of a purpose-built racing platform, relevant manufacturer power plants, and a rules package that focuses on excellent cost containment, the TA2 class represents an outstanding value platform in racing. With engines capable of lasting an entire season and cost control measures that allow drivers to fully focus on racing, not the financing of it, while showcasing their talents and skill.
Another force driving young talent to TA2 is Mike Cope Race Cars. This season Mike Cope Race Cars partnered with championship-winning NASCAR team Joe Gibbs Racing. In the last event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the Florida-based team fielded a stable of cars which included four NASCAR Xfinity Series JGR drivers behind the wheel.
The Trans Am event at Mid-Ohio was proof positive of this, as NASCAR Xfnity drivers Ty Gibbs (No. 26 Mike Cope Race Cars), Christopher Bell (No. 34 Mike Cope Race Cars), Riley Herbst (No. 28 Mike Cope Race Cars) and Haley (No. 99 Mike Cope Race Cars), all pulled double duty at Mid-Ohio, using Trans Am for additional preparation for the B&L Transport 170 NASCAR race.
“We have a lot of driver training and driver coaching,” said team owner Mike Cope. “We have a lot of young drivers looking for a place to hone their road racing skills as they move up the NASCAR ladder, and they’ve chosen the Trans Am Series TA2 division to do it in. We’ve aligned ourselves with Joe Gibbs Racing and we are doing some good stuff with Ty Gibbs. The cost controlled approach of the TA2 class and the competition among the field is very attractive to these drivers.”
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points leader Sam Mayer made his Trans Am debut earlier this season at Road Atlanta under the SLR/Fields Race banner where he qualified 12th in a very competitive 28-car field. The 15-year-old Midwesterner is a key member of Team Chevy’s Driver’s Edge Development program and made select starts in the ARCA Menards and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck series this season.
In effort to accelerate his career, NASCAR K&N Pro Series driver Derek Kraus joined the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli West Coast Championship TA2 roster at Sonoma International Raceway, winning his debut race after qualifying on pole with Shockwave Motorsports.
Another racer who pushed his development forward with his Trans Am outings was Justin Haley, who polished his road racing skills in the TA2 powered by AEM class with outings in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019. Haley claimed his maiden Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway earlier this season.
The roster for this weekend’s Ryan Companies Road America Classic is also shaping up to have several NXS drivers join the TA2 field. Bell and Haley will return with Mike Cope Race Cars. In addition, the team added JGR NASCAR Xfinity driver Brandon Jones for the weekend. NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver Natalie Decker will return to the Tony Ave tent, competing in the TA class.
“We firmly believe that the TA2 powered by AEM class is not only a tremendous value for the competitors, but it is also an outstanding platform from the competition side,” said Trans Am President John Clagett. “We’ve attracted a lot of different kinds of racers to this class, and it is a testament to the structure of the class that some of the next guard of NASCAR racers are coming here as part of their development.”
For the TA2 regulars like points championship leader Marc Miller, the addition of rising NASCAR talents entering the class only adds to competition. Miller showed his unwavering talents at Mid-Ohio, topping the results to beat the four NASCARXfinity drivers entered.
“The TA2 class is one of the most competitive and challenging in the country, said Miller. “We have a great mix of very quick young rising stars and pro drivers and at several races each season another crop of young drivers being groomed as future NASCAR champions jump into the fray. It makes the series always feel fresh and challenges us regulars to be pacesetters and not followers. I love the challenges this class brings!”
The Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge for the TA2 powered by AEM class – part of the NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Road America – takes the green flag Saturday at 8:00 a.m. Central.
For live timing and scoring, event photos and post-race recap videos visit GoTransAm.com. For live race updates follow @GoTransAm on Twitter.
|NASCAR Driver||Trans Am Class Year|
|Justin Haley||2015, 2016, 2018, 2019|
|Scott Heckert||2015, 2018|
|Matt Tifft||2017, 2018|
|Christopher Bell||2018, 2019|
|Lawless Alan||2018, 2019|
|Derek Kraus||2019 West|