Though it’s been more than a decade since he raced with any regularity on dirt, Alex Bowman looked right at home Friday during first NASCAR Cup Series practice at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Drissi & Mayer Nab Road Atlanta Trans-Am Poles

BRASELTON, Ga. – Tomy Drissi captured the Motul Pole Award for Sunday’s Trans-Am Series presented by Pirelli Atlanta SpeedTour event in a shortened session at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Drissi turned a best lap of 1:20.458-seconds on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit in the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro for his eighth career pole but his first since Mid-Ohio in 2015. He edged Boris Said in the No. 2 Weaver Racing Technique/SRI Dodge Challenger by .062 seconds.

“I was trying to ring the neck out of it and I just didn’t see that in the times,” said Drissi. “I am really proud of the Burtin Racing Lucas Slick Mist guys, this is fantastic for the No. 8 car. We got P1, and we’re going to celebrate tonight and enjoy it until tomorrow.”

Drissi pulled over to let Said by late in the session, unaware that Said was looking to remain in his draft in hopes of a faster lap.

“I thought I got out of the way of Boris when he was trying to do that last lap on me, and he’s pretty upset,” Drissi said. “I’m pretty sure I moved way out of the line, but you know Boris, he’s a competitor.”

“The Technique/SRI Dodge Challenger was really fast today, and we were really close to Tomy (Drissi),” explained Said. “I cooled my tires off for one lap to go for it on the last lap. The first half of the lap I was really flying. Going into turn six Tomy was going really slow on the in lap and was right in my line so it destroyed my lap. I was pretty mad after because I think these Weaver Racing guys really deserved the pole today, and I let them down. I should have spaced myself out a little better.”

The TA session was black-flagged early for Chris Dyson, who got stuck in gear on a downshift and spun the No. 20 Plaid Ford Mustang into the gravel trap in turn one before any of the drivers took a flying lap. Dyson was able to drive back to the pits, but did not return to the track as the team worked on the shifting problem, which is expected to be fixed for the race. Qualifying resumed with nine minutes remaining of the scheduled 15-minutes.

Sam Mayer nipped Franklin Futrelle by 0.009-seconds to capture his second career pole in four TA2 races The 17-year-old driver who drives for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, turned a lap of 1:23.923 seconds in the No. 8 M1-SLR/Fields Chevrolet Camaro.

Sam Mayer will lead the TA2 field to the green flag at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Sam Mayer will lead the TA2 field to the green flag at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

“I pulled in early and was sweating watching the clock tick down,” said Mayer. “The top two of us were separated by nine-thousandths of a second so it was really close so i was really anxious about that. It’s awesome to get the pole. This opportunity is awesome at TeamSLR. They put together a good piece for us and hopefully I will go out tomorrow, lead every lap and take the win tomorrow.”

Mayer won the pole for his second TA2 start at Daytona in 2019. He finished second and won the TA2 class in last weekend’s debut of the Trans-Am Pro-Am Challenge at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Futrelle, who turned heads at Road Atlanta a year ago by qualifying third for his TA2® debut, came close with a lap of 1:23.932 seconds in the No. 58 Innoviv Ford Mustang.

“I am pretty happy with how we are doing, the B2 Motorsports guys prepared a good Ford Mustang this weekend,” Futrelle said. “It’s hard to be upset about second when the times were that close over a 2.54-mile track. The biggest difference between this weekend to when we were here in November is that we switched to a whole new shock package with JRI Shocks and have a new engine program with KTech and that’s probably good for at least a second on our time.”

Defending series champion and two-time 2020 Road Atlanta winner Mike Skeen was third, 1:23.949 seconds in the No. 1 Liqui-Moly/Turn 14 Distribution Camaro. He was followed by 2021 Sebring winner Thomas Merrill, 1:24.087-seconds in the No. 81 HP Tuners Mustang; Scott Lagasse Jr., 1:24.114 seconds in the No. 92 SLR-Fields Ford Mustang; and Rafa Matos, 1:24.158 seconds in the No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Mustang.

Michael Phillips won the SGT pole for his second start in the No. 97 F.A.S.T. Auto Racing Corvette, turning a lap of 1:27.112 seconds.

“We’ve been fighting pace all session,” said Phillips, who spun at start/finish late in the session. “We were trying to push things a little bit and I pushed it over the limits in T12 and spun, but I am thankful that the car seems alright. We may have spotted a tire, but other than that we got lucky today.”

Lou Gigliotti was second (1:27.312 seconds) in the No. 28 G2 Motorsports Park Corvette, followed by Lee Saunders in the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper (1:28.988 seconds).
Billy Griffin, the 2020 GT champion making the move to GT, impacted a tire wall midway through the session in the No. 14 Griffin Auto Care Ford Mustang GT4. While the damage was cosmetic, the team is working on issues with the steering rack that it hopes to correct for the race.

Jason Merck captured the GT pole in for his Trans-Am debut, with a lap of 1:35.262 seconds in the No. 51 OG Shark BMW M3.

“I’ve been doing club racing at various levels for the last few years,” said the San Antonio driver. “I came to Trans-Am because I wanted something more serious. This is my first time at Road Atlanta – it’s a awesome track. I’m building a new BMW M3 and hope to start racing it in SGT later this summer, and we hope to do a full year in 2022.”

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