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Paul Menard won on Sunday in Trans-Am. (Trans-Am Photo)

Paul Menard Victorious In Trans-Am For Third Time In A Row

LEXINGTON, Ohio — Paul Menard once again drove to GYM WEED Winners Circle, this time navigating his No. 3 Menards/Masterforce Ford Mustang through heavy rain to win his third-straight race and fourth of the season. While Chris Dyson had the strategy to beat, early troubles for the three-time champion opened the door for Menard to win the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and increase his advantage in the point standings.

With a dry track before the start of the race, competitors in the TA/XGT/SGT/GT race were all starting on slick tires. However, just as the command to start engines was given, light rain began to fall over the track. While the field made its first pace lap, Dyson decided to bring his No. 16 GYM WEED Ford Mustang to pit road for rain tires, sacrificing his second-place starting position for treaded tires, betting on worsening rain.

And worsen, it did. Polesitter Menard led the field to the green flag, but racing was slow going as competitors struggled to get up to speed on the slippery surface.

With grip on his side, it only took three laps for Dyson to race his way from the back and into the lead. As cars in every class began to dive to pit road for rain tires, Amy Ruman (No. 23 McNichols Co./Valley Automotive Group Chevrolet Corvette) went off the track surface and into the gravel trap, bringing out a full-course caution on lap 5. This allowed the remainder of the competitors on slicks to come to pit road for wets, and racing finally began in earnest when green-flag racing resumed on lap 10. Dyson led Menard and Tomy Drissi (No. 8 Franklin Road Apparel Chevrolet Camaro) for the next five laps, but on lap 16, Dyson’s rear locked up, taking him off the racing surface and into a tire barrier. Despite the hard hit, Dyson was able to resume racing, but the heavy front-end damage required him to make a stop on pit road for bodywork. Fortunately, he was able to remain on the lead lap, but he trailed well behind once-again leader, Paul Menard, and second-place Tomy Drissi.

The three ran in that order until lap 33, when two competitors experienced major issues simultaneously. The No. 17 Top Liner/Go Share Chevrolet Camaro of Adam Andretti experienced an engine failure, bringing his car to a halt and oiling down the frontstretch. Meanwhile, Drissi went off course and got stuck in a gravel trap, allowing Dyson to pass him for second place. However, due Andretti’s inability to continue and the remainder of the TA competitors in the garage, Drissi was able to salvage the last spot on the podium. With the clock running out, Menard took the checkered flag and double yellow flags together, claiming his third consecutive victory and fourth of 2024.

“It was a lot of fun, obviously; we wound up on top,” said Menard. “I just don’t have any experience [racing in the rain], but I learned a lot. I was running decent times, and I felt like the wetter it got, the better we were. But I was just learning out there; learning how to use the brake under wet conditions, and to set the car. Using the throttle is super tricky, but after running high-horsepower cars on skinny tires for years in NASCAR, you have to have an eggshell under your foot. So that wasn’t bad. It was all about the braking for me to gain my speed in the rain.

“Hats off to all these guys at 3GT. The car was so fast in the dry. I think [Chris] Dyson was a little faster than us in the wet, for sure. But we didn’t put a tire wrong, and the guys just did a hell of a job all weekend.”