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Paul Menard (David Moulthrop photo)

Menard Is Lime Rock Trans-Am Master

LAKEVILLE, Conn. ― Paul Menard’s day went from frustration to triumph at the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli Memorial Day Classic at Lime Rock Park, as he overcame pre-race technical issues to earn his second victory of the season.

Menard nearly missed grid because his car wouldn’t start on the pre-grid, but a recovery by his 3GT team allowed him to keep his fourth-place starting position.

From there, raw speed and the troubles of others allowed him to take the lead early in the race and never look back, taking the checkered flag at the Lime Rock SpeedTour.

Tomy Drissi (No. 8 Franklin Road Apparel Chevrolet Camaro) started the race from the point position after earning his first pole position with his own team, Drissi Motorsports, in this morning’s qualifying session, just barely beating out three-time champion Chris Dyson (No. 16 GYM WEED Ford Mustang).

When the green flag waved, Drissi smoothly pulled ahead of his competitors, while third-place starter Adam Andretti (No. 17 Top Liner/Go Share Chevrolet Camaro) made contact with Dyson in turn one, causing Dyson to spin and drop to last in class. Drissi held the lead for the first two laps, with Andretti challenging behind him, but by lap three, Andretti was able to make the pass and take control of the race.

Just one lap later, Drissi faded back to third, and Andretti put a wheel off the track, losing momentum and allowing Menard to take over the point position in his No. 3 Menards/Masterforce Tools Ford Mustang. Once Menard got out in front, he flawlessly ticked off the laps, opening a bigger and bigger lead over Andretti.

Meanwhile, Dyson was making blazing-fast laps to recover from his spin, and he worked his way up to fourth by lap seven. At a 15-second disadvantage behind the leaders, Dyson chipped away at the gap. On lap 23, he passed Drissi for the third position, and then put Andretti in his sights.

Menard continued to dominate out front, but Andretti fell farther behind the leader, while Dyson stalked the second-place driver. Dyson finally caught Andretti on lap 58 of 68, allowing just 10 laps for him to pursue Menard, who was still nearly 10 seconds ahead.

Although Dyson was able to cut down Menard’s advantage to six seconds, a stopped car on the track brought out the yellow flag with three laps to go, forcing the race to end under caution and preventing Dyson from making any more forward progress.

Menard took the checkered flag, followed by Dyson, Andretti and Drissi. Amy Ruman, who had experienced damage early in the race in her No. 23 McNichols Co. Chevrolet Corvette, finished fifth.

“This is a great track; it’s a bucket list track for me,” said Menard. “I am just in awe of the fans here, the crowd. I’ve always heard the Lime Rock crowd was the best. There’s some great road courses in America that we get to go to because of the veterans and our military, who keep us safe. First and foremost, we get to do this and have fun, but we don’t do this without them. I got to meet a gentleman, Chris Ross over here, he’s a veteran Army Ranger. We spent some time together this weekend. There are guys like Chris all across America that live a different life, protecting us. Hats off to everyone at 3GT, they gave me a hell of a race car. On to Pittsburgh to try to do it again.”