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Rafa Matos finally scored a victory at Lime Rock Park. (Trans Am Photo)

Rafa Matos Scores Long-Awaited Lime Rock TA2 Win

LAKEVILLE, Conn. — Rafa Matos added to his record as the winningest driver in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s CUBE 3 Architecture TA2 Series, earning his 22nd-career victory in the Trans Am Memorial Day Classic at the Lime Rock SpeedTour. The two-time champion led every lap from start to finish to earn his long-awaited first win at Lime Rock Park. Matos shared the podium with Evan Slater, who returned to the series for the first time in 2024 to finish second, and Thomas Annunziata, who drove from the very back of the field to finish third.

Taking the green flag from the point position, Matos had a flawless start in his No. 60 Concord American Flagpole Ford Mustang, pulling ahead of Slater’s No. 17 CUBE 3/Franklin Road/M1 Ford Mustang, which started beside him on the front row. Fourth-place starter Ben Maier quickly worked his way around Jake Drew, claiming the third position by the conclusion of the first lap. Far behind them, Thomas Annunziata, who was forced to start 20th after a technical infraction during qualifying disallowed his time, began a march to the front with terrific speed, entering the top 10 after only six laps and claiming the eighth position by the first full-course caution on lap 15.

When racing resumed on lap 19, Matos easily maintained his lead, while Annunziata had an impressive restart, jumping up to the sixth position. While Matos, Slater, Maier and Drew led the field, Annunziata took on Thomas Merrill, passing him for the fifth position on lap 22. Another double yellow on lap 24 reracked the field for a lap 31 restart, which fortunately remained green, despite mid-pack mayhem sending two Pro/Am Challenge competitors spinning in traffic. The top five ran nose to tail while top-10 drivers Merrill, Boris Said Jr., Adrian Wlostowski, Josh Hurley and Gio Ruggiero jockeyed aggressively for position.

While Matos and Slater were smoothly making laps in the front, Annunziata stalked Drew, claiming the fourth position by lap 47. He then took on Maier, making his way around him on lap 55 to claim third place. A full-course yellow on lap 57 regrouped the field for an eight-lap shootout beginning on lap 60. Annunziata was all over Slater after the restart, cleanly but aggressively challenging him for the runner-up spot, but Slater was flawless in his defense. As Matos clicked off the laps from the lead, a big crash with two laps remaining brought out the yellow flag, forcing the race to end under caution. Matos earned his 22nd-career victory, followed across the finish line by Slater and Annunziata. Maier and Drew rounded out the top five.

“It’s an amazing feeling right now,” said Matos. “I’ve never had luck here at Lime Rock Park; I’ve always had something happen: a lapped car or rain or something breaking on the car. But the Nitro Motorsports guys prepared an amazing car. Not only my car, but they prepared all four racecars to be the best of the best. To come out here and put on a good show for the fans, it’s an amazing time. I’ve got to thank Chris Dyson for allowing us to compete at the highest level with Concord American Flagpole. This is Dyson’s home track and it’s a very special event for him, and we’re really happy to deliver a good result.

“This should put us in the lead for the championship, so it’s a good day for me, for [teammate] Thomas [Annunziata], and for everyone on the team. Just a really good day.”