Dillon Machavern, Thad Moffitt Look To Build on Solid Outings at Sebring TA2 Opener;

#ScreenYourMachine.org Takes Spotlight During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (March 8, 2023) – After surviving the always unpredictable season-opening race at the iconic Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway two weekends ago with solid performances, TeamSLR’s Dillon Machavern and Thad Moffitt are confident they’re equipped to be bona fide contenders for this year’s Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers TA2 Series championship.

They’ll take the next step in pursuit of their season-long goals when the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli heads for the first time in seven years to NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana, for this weekend’s New Orleans SpeedTour. Saturday’s 37-lap, 75-minute TA2-class race around the 2.75-mile, 16-turn road course is set for 1:25 p.m. EST, preceded by open testing, practice and qualifying Thursday and Friday.

Machavern, the 27-year-old from Charlotte, Vermont, and driver of the No. 17 Heritage Automotive/Unifirst SLR-M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro, was smooth and steady from start to finish at Sebring, as would be expected of a seasoned road-racing veteran who’s made his mark in Trans Am and IMSA since joining the professional ranks in 2012. He qualified eighth and finished sixth.

For Moffitt, the 22-year-old from Trinity, North Carolina, and driver of the No. 43 Safety-Kleen Chevrolet Camaro for TeamSLR, Sebring marked his first career TA2 start after six seasons competing in stock cars on primarily oval tracks in the ARCA Menards Series. It was certainly an exciting one as he started 20th, then abruptly found himself near the back of the 45-car field when he was spun from behind on the opening lap. But the grandson of racing legend Richard Petty steadily made his way back toward the front and nearly cracked the top-10 in his TA2 debut, placing 12th.

While Moffitt got an actual taste of the NOLA circuit during a TeamSLR test in his No. 43 Safety-Kleen Camaro in January, he and most of this year’s TA2-class entries will be racing at NOLA for the first time. Machavern does have TA2 racing experience at NOLA, having competed during both of Trans Am’s only previous visits to the facility in 2015 and 2016. He qualified fourth for both events and had solid starts on race day cut short by mechanical issues on both occasions. He’ll look to settle that unfinished business this weekend on the outskirts of New Orleans.

TeamSLR’s solid opening weekend at Sebring was punctuated by the return of driver Connor Mosack, who after driving fulltime for the team in 2021 and 2022 graduated to the NASCAR Xfinity Series and ARCA Menards Series this season. Mosack qualified on the pole and led the opening 22 laps before relinquishing the lead on a late restart. He rallied for a third-place finish behind race-winner Rafa Matos and his Peterson Racing teammate Austin Green in the runner-up position, making it a sweep of the Sebring podium for M1 Racecars.

As with all races this season, Saturday’s event will be streamed live on the Trans Am and SpeedTour channels on YouTube. And Trans Am’s new TV partner this year, MAVTV, will air Saturday’s TA2 race in a one-hour package set for 8 p.m. EDT Thursday, March 16.

Saturday’s race will also be the first of two during March, which is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, bringing special emphasis in the TeamSLR camp to its year-round activity promoting ScreenYourMachine.org. It’s an initiative created in 2016 by team owner Scott Lagasse Jr., a colon cancer survivor, in partnership with the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) to educate individuals about the importance of getting age-appropriate screenings for all types of cancer.

“I was still in my early 30s when I was diagnosed, but I knew something was wrong so I didn’t waste any time and I went and saw my doctor,” said Lagasse, whose quick decision paralleled his quickness in the driver’s seat during his NASCAR and ARCA career. “They caught it early and that was my saving grace. The treatment worked, but young-onset colorectal cancer is rising. I wasn’t some outlier. About 12 percent of incidents occur in people under the age of 50.”

Dillon Machavern, Driver, No. 17 Heritage Automotive/Unifirst/SLR-M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro:

You raced in TA2 at NOLA in 2015 and 2016, the only years Trans Am has visited the track. What are your impressions of the track as you return there this weekend, and how do you feel the racing might be different than what it was those two years?

“It’s been a number of years since I was there, and I’ve done a lot of racing since then in a lot of different places and in different cars. So I have to admit I don’t remember a lot about the track at NOLA, other than it is very bumpy and difficult to pass. I think that all aspects of the TA2 series have been elevated significantly since I last visited NOLA. The cars and teams have evolved a lot. The depth of talent we have right now, I anticipate, will make for a very competitive race where track position is going to be hugely important. But I’m really looking forward to going back there.”

How would you assess the season’s first race at Sebring two weekends ago as you look to NOLA this weekend and on through the rest of the season?

“As a competitor, you want nothing less than to be standing on the podium at the end of the weekend. But I feel that Sebring was still a successful event for us. We were able to build a good foundation of communication and continued to develop the rapport that will allow us to make positive changes faster and put the 17 at the front of the grid. If Sebring is an indicator of the season to come, I think it’s going to be incredibly competitive. We are going to have to be at the top of our game at every event, and every point is going to count.”

Racing for TeamSLR during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, you’ll be part of the team’s efforts to get the word out about the importance of CRC screening. Your thoughts on that?

“I honestly don’t really have any experience with CRC, but I believe putting our collective effort together to get the word out is an incredibly strong tool, and I’m excited for the opportunity to raise awareness.”

Thad Moffitt, Driver, No. 43 Safety-Kleen Chevrolet Camaro:

You haven’t raced at NOLA before, but you did have the opportunity to test your Safety-Kleen Camaro there over the winter. What are your thoughts about the track and racing there this weekend?

“When we went to NOLA before the Sebring test, I was more focused on learning the car than I was learning the track because it was my first time in the TA2 car. I ran six, hour-long sessions during that test just to learn the car. But from what I remember about the racetrack, it’s really, really flat, not a whole lot of characteristics, and it’s going to be really hard to pass. Sebring has areas on the racetrack where you can be more aggressive with your passing. At NOLA, you’ll run out of room pretty quickly, I feel like, when it comes to racing other cars. So qualifying is going to be really, really big. But everybody’s kind of on a level playing field because TA2 hasn’t run there in a while. I certainly got a lot of passing experience at Sebring, so I’m looking to carry that over into NOLA. Hopefully I don’t get spun on the first lap and have to fight my way up from the back. The track itself is really flat. All the corners look really similar. I enjoyed the esses in the TA2 car because they’re so fast, and then the front straightaway into turn one was fun. There are two or three places where you can really get aggressive with a pass on that course so, like I said, qualifying is going to be big. I’m glad it’s a place where I’ve already been.”

How would you rate your first experience racing the TA2 car at the Sebring season opener, especially after getting spun on the opening lap, then fighting your way back from 40th to finish 12th?

“I was talking to my grandpa (Richard Petty) after the race, and he said, ‘Well, now you know what it’s like to run everywhere throughout the field except at the front.’ I learned how to race the guys for 40th, I learned how to race the guys for 30th, for 20th, all the way up to almost the top-10, so it was unfortunate for me to get spun on the first lap, but to get all that experience racing everybody in the field that I did, that was beneficial. I feel like I made a lot of gains with the car, and also understanding how these weekends go. I mean, that was the first race I’ve ever run in my life that ended under caution. The group qualifying stuff I’ve done before, but not with 20-something cars out there at the same time. Learning the paddock and how everything flows, staging for practice, qualifying and the race, those are all things that were new to me and now it’s behind me.”

Racing for TeamSLR during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, you’ll be part of the team’s efforts to get the word out about the importance of CRC screening. Your thoughts on that?

“I just learned at Sebring that Scotty went through all of that several years ago. My grandma, we all struggled with her battle with leukemia, and that taught us that cancer is something that takes a toll on everybody – friends, family. I’ve read up on Scott’s deal a little bit and I feel like I’ll definitely get checked out at a younger age because my family has a history with polyps. It’s obviously important to get checked out by your doctor at all times, and cancer is a really serious thing, so whatever it takes to fight for the cure and early detection, I’m behind it 100 percent.”