‘Let’s Play Two’: TeamSLR Watkins Glen Trans Am Advance

‘Let’s Play Two’
Connor Mosack and Jack Wood Ready for Watkins Glen Doubleheader

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (Sept. 9, 2021) – Baseball great Ernie Banks would definitely be a fan of this weekend’s Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli event at Watkins Glen International. The affable Hall of Famer who played for the Chicago Cubs is credited with the saying, “Let’s play two,” as he enjoyed the game so much that his serial belief was why play one game when you could play two?

The canceled Trans Am round Sept. 3-5 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, due to COVID-19 paved the way for a doubleheader Saturday and Sunday at Watkins Glen… but not just any doubleheader.

For the first time in series and track history, Watkins Glen is playing host to an all-class Trans Am event on its 3.4-mile, 11-turn layout in upstate New York. Two 100-mile races with more than 40 TA, TA2, XtremeGT and SuperGT cars are on tap, with each driver eyeing a similar racing line as they chase a class victory.

Knowing there would be a packed field on The Glen’s high-speed, technical layout, TeamSLR tested at the track Aug. 31-Sept. 1 with drivers Connor Mosack and Jack Wood.

This is Mosack’s first full season in Trans Am’s TA2 division, and while the 22-year-old is still considered a rookie, he has plenty of experience in doubleheaders. Mosack’s first four TA2 starts came during two doubleheader weekends last fall at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. And in the time since those doubleheaders, Mosack’s development has been impressive. The Charlotte, North Carolina-native secured his first career podium finish June 26 at the Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course, just a month-and-a-half after graduating with a degree in business entrepreneurship from High Point (N.C.) University. And in the most recent TA2 race Aug. 8 on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee, Mosack earned another podium finish.

Mosack will be joined at The Glen by 21-year-old Jack Wood, who is looking to burnish his racing resume with some road-course experience in Trans Am. Wood ran his first career TA2 race July 18 at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway and finished a respectable 11th.

Wood is a fulltime driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series who made his debut in that division on May 22 at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. Wood described the road-course race as an “eye-opener” as his only prior road-course experience came in go-karts and in a lone NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race in 2019 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. The Loomis, California-native’s second Truck Series race took place Aug. 7 at The Glen, providing Wood with valuable, real-world experience heading into his second career TA2 start.

Mosack and Wood are coached by the father-and-son duo of Scott Lagasse and Scott Lagasse, Jr. They have combined to win more than 100 races and seven championships across a variety of series and styles of racecars, from paved ovals to road courses to dirt tracks.

It’s all a part of TeamSLR’s comprehensive driver development program, which includes car-building capabilities. TeamSLR is the exclusive representative of M1 Racecars, an official TA2 constructor. It builds rolling chassis and complete Chevrolet Camaros, Ford Mustangs and Dodge Challengers for Trans Am competition.

Mosack and Wood will wheel their M1 Racecars-built Chevrolet Camaros around The Glen in Trans Am’s 33rd visit to the storied track where Jerry Titus won the inaugural race in 1968, ending Mark Donahue’s eight-race winning streak.

Connor Mosack, driver No. 28 Nic Tailor Custom Fit Underwear/Interstate Foam & Supply Chevrolet Camaro:

You were able to test at Watkins Glen Aug. 31-Sept. 1. How did it go and what did you learn?

“I think it went really well. We didn’t get a whole lot of clean laps because there were a lot of cars on the track. We were able to run hard in all sections of the track and got good data to look at, information to come back for our setup that will help. The lap times we got on our clean laps were really fast for the tires we were on. We were trying to work on our long-run, late-race type of balance. I’m sure our competition was faster, too, from the last time they were there, but it looks like we definitely made good progress from the last time the team was there.”

The Trans Am Series runs the long course at Watkins Glen, which includes the Boot. Many fans are unfamiliar with that section because NASCAR doesn’t use that portion of the track. What’s that section of the track like?

“It’s a pretty high-speed section. I’m definitely glad we get to run that part of the track. Turn seven is a really fun corner with a lot of banking, almost like an oval-track type of sensation but going uphill. Turns eight and nine are pretty technical, especially turn nine. It’s a series of turns NASCAR misses out on, but it’s a lot of fun and I’m glad we get to run it.”

Describe a full lap around Watkins Glen.

“Overall, the track is really high-speed. There are no really slow corners. Turn one is a heavy braking zone where you use a lot of track on exit. It’s really important where the car sets up there for when you come to the esses, where cars run wide open. The speed you carry through turn one will help you all the way to the Bus Stop. Uphill through the esses is a really fun section. The car’s going through a lot of load, but it’s probably the most fun part of the track. That leads you down a long straightaway into the Bus Stop, which is a really fast chicane. There are bumps there and your car has to go really well over those. That leads to the Carousel, which is a really fast, long, winding right-hander that leads to the Boot section. Then, you come back on the NASCAR circuit for turns 10 and 11, which are two, pretty fast left- and right-hand 90-degree corners. They’re banked and are very fun.”

Watkins Glen represents a doubleheader with a points-paying race on Saturday and another on Sunday. You competed in two doubleheaders last year at VIR and Road Atlanta. Do you like these kinds of weekends where in less than 24 hours you can apply what you learned in Saturday’s race to the race on Sunday?

“Last year, I was glad to do the doubleheader weekends because I was new to the series and I was able to get a lot more track time, and we usually improved a lot from the first race to the second race both weekends. I think it will help us again this year because I’m still new compared to most of these guys. We’re running with the TA cars, which changed the dynamic when we did that last year, so it’s hard to say how that will affect the outcome this weekend. There’s a lot going on with so many cars out there with the speed differences. There are so many TA2 cars that we have enough to have our own race and not have to worry about the faster TA cars. Some of them are faster than us down the straightaways but slower than us through the corners, and that’s a challenge for us.”

Trans Am has been off since its last race at Nashville in early August. What have you been up to since then?

“The only races I’ve done since Nashville are the two ARCA races at Michigan International Speedway and the Milwaukee Mile. Michigan was going really well. We had to start at the back based on points, but we were running fifth on lap two or three and had a second- or third-place car most of the race but, unfortunately, we had a fuel pressure issue. We came in to change the fuel pump about 20 laps in, which put us about 10 laps down, so we went back out to just put in some laps. About halfway the fuel pump went out again, so we had to retire. At Milwaukee, we just didn’t have a good car all day and we struggled a lot, so it wasn’t our best day.”

Trans Am. ARCA. Super Late Models. You’re racing them all this year. Do you feel that competing in different series and in different cars is making you a more well-rounded racer, to where the experience in one series is helping you in another?

“For me, seat time is really the most important thing. Experience in just about any car is really helpful. The Trans Am car and the Super Late Model drive a little bit more similar. The ARCA car is much different, a little bit heavier and a different type of chassis that takes a little bit of time to get used to, and all we race on are much bigger tracks, which is very different. It can be tough, jumping around. The Super Late Model is the hardest to just hop into, but I feel pretty comfortable getting back in the Trans Am car every time, and I do feel pretty comfortable getting up to speed in the ARCA car. We have one more ARCA race left this year at Kansas and, obviously, a few more weekends left in the Trans Am car.”

Jack Wood, driver No. 96 M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro:

You were able to test at Watkins Glen Aug. 31-Sept. 1. How did it go and what did you learn?

“It was good to get laps. It was an open track day, so it was helpful in navigating lapped traffic, and just getting to see the place was good. It was my second time ever being there, but the first time ever running the Boot configuration, so it was really good for me to be able to just go and do that. We were able to look at all the different sectors and compare them to Connor’s. It was good to get a little bit of a head start going in. It was a little weird for me to have practice because in the Trucks right now, we don’t have practice, so it’s nice to be able to run laps before getting there on race weekend. I think it’s going to be a big help for us.”

The Trans Am Series runs the long course at Watkins Glen, which includes the Boot. Many fans are unfamiliar with that section because NASCAR doesn’t use that portion of the track. What’s that section of the track like?

“I think it’s a lot of fun. The NASCAR circuit of Watkins Glen is just really high-speed, so it’s not super-technical, and I think the Boot adds a little bit of slower-speed stuff and makes the track a little more technical. It’s a really fun layout in a Trans Am car that’s light with the kind of grip it has. I don’t know how it would be in a Truck, but it just makes the course a little longer and adds a little more to it.”

Describe a full lap around Watkins Glen.

“It’s high-speed, so you’ve got to stay focused and you can’t get behind. And the thing is, everything is so high-speed that if you’re one or two miles an hour slower through a corner, it’s really going to affect you. So, you’ve just got to be really proactive about what you’re doing. There are some big, heavy braking zones, like through turn one and the Bus Stop – the Bus Stop is a really important area – and then there’s the Boot and turn eight. It’s a high-speed track, so you’ve really got to be careful and mindful of the fact that every corner really affects you because, basically, every corner leads onto a straightaway compared to somewhere like Sonoma or COTA, where you have little short sections. If you miss one corner by a little bit, it’s going to affect you for the next half-mile or more.”

Watkins Glen represents a doubleheader with a points-paying race on Saturday and another on Sunday. Do you like these kinds of weekends where in less than 24 hours you can apply what you learned in Saturday’s race to the race on Sunday?

“Having a doubleheader is really, really good because, quite honestly, you get a practice race before you really race. I mean, they’re both races but I think, at least for me, you almost treat the first one like a practice race, getting comfortable being around other cars, trying to learn what I can during restarts and stuff like that, and then being able to sleep on it and apply it to Sunday’s race. Having a doubleheader is huge because it’s twice as much seat time for me and it’s also a lot of fun. It’s going to be challenging because you’re going to be in the car longer, so you’ve got to really focus on recovering and getting yourself rehydrated for Sunday. But it’s a good challenge and definitely a good scenario for me to put myself in, to make myself uncomfortable and to keep pushing myself forward.”

In addition to testing the TA2 car at Watkins Glen, you raced there in the Truck Series back on Aug. 7. How helpful will that experience be as you gear up for the TA2 doubleheader this weekend?

“The biggest thing that helped racing in the Truck there was just the restarts and being comfortable racing in a pack through the esses and all that. I was able to be in a lot of racing scenarios during the Truck race, which is going to come into play, for sure. I think the Truck guys were a little more aggressive than what I think the Trans Am guys are going to be this weekend, but I think any time you get seat time in a racing setting is really going to help, so I think a lot of that stuff is going to apply toward this weekend.”

Your first and most recent Trans Am race came nearly two months ago at Brainerd in July. How helpful was that race in preparing you for the Truck Series race at The Glen, as that was only your second career Truck Series start on a road course?

“My road-course experience is very minimal, so every lap I get to turn right is huge for me. So far, it’s been a really big learning curve, but it’s been coming together really well. For me, it’s been a big asset just to be able to come and run with a program like this outside of Trucks to try and get a leg up on the next guy. Running the race at Brainerd was definitely a big help for me, just to get more time in the seat running a road course where my background is almost 100 percent paved oval racing.”

It was announced not too long ago that you’ll be racing the full Truck Series schedule next year for GMS Racing. With road-course racing becoming more and more prevalent, how important are outings like this one coming at The Glen to further prepare you for when the Truck Series races on road courses?

“It’s huge. I think me being able to get my contract done and knowing that I’m going to be back in the Truck next year is great for me. I have a pretty good idea of what the schedule is going to look like next year, so for me to be able to know early like this, I’m really able to focus on auxiliary programs like this that are geared toward road-course racing. It’s definitely going away from the traditional mile-and-a-half racing in NASCAR, and they’re starting to mix up the schedule quite a bit.”

Scott Lagasse, Jr., owner of TeamSLR and driver coach:

You were able to test at Watkins Glen Aug. 31-Sept. 1 with Mosack and Wood. How did it go and what did you learn?

“It was a good couple of days and I’m really happy with both drivers. Connor and Jack both did a great job and I feel like we left there with some good things to work on to get better. We will have implemented those and it should be a good weekend coming up.”

Watkins Glen represents a doubleheader with a points-paying race on Saturday and another on Sunday. Do you like these kinds of weekends where in less than 24 hours you can apply what you learned in Saturday’s race to the race on Sunday?

“I think it’s really good for the rookies because it gives them a chance to learn what they need to do with their cars. It evens up the playing field a little bit the next day. I’m looking forward to it. These kids we work with, they’re fast. We don’t have to worry about them being fast. Our job is to give them experience and, in my case, teach them the mistakes that I’ve already made. So, we’ll go with that same thing. That’s really where our emphasis is with our program. Speed for the drivers is not an issue, which makes it fun.”

What goes into preparing for a doubleheader? Specifically, what goes into turning the racecars around from Saturday’s race to Sunday’s race, and what kind of driver coaching takes place between the two races?

“All of it kind of comes together – you prepare ahead so hopefully you don’t have to do a lot of work between races. You have everything pre-built up, ready to go. Then, if you don’t have any issues, you’re able to put 100 percent of your energy into just making the cars better and the drivers better from the first day, and that’s the goal. As a group, we tend to carry our hauler that way no matter what, week in and week out, supplies-wise, with stuff pre-built up – prepare for the worst and hope for the best. So, I don’t know that anything changes much from the standpoint of the guys and our preparation, our hauler and all that, because that’s how we try to operate all the time, anyway. We just try to be prepared and, honestly, over-prepared. That’s just the philosophy that’s been instilled in me by guys way smarter than me, my dad included. Personnel-wise, we’re definitely going to be heavy on people, making sure we’ve got plenty of people if there is a problem that we can turn stuff, whatever we might have to do. The neat thing about our group is there are a lot of motivated guys with the work-hard, play-hard mentality. It makes it fun.”

Nothing beats experience. How helpful is your dad’s racing experience at Watkins Glen, specifically in regard to telling the drivers what to expect before they even climb into the racecar?

“You can’t put a price on him. Dad took me to The Glen for the first time a few years ago (for the 2018 TA2 race) and we started in turn one. He worked on me – we really didn’t work on the racecar, we worked on the driver – until we got all the way around the racetrack. And by the time all was said and done, we were incredibly fast, and not a bit of it was working on the racecar, it was all working on the driver. He’s got a ton of experience there and he’s been fast in everything he’s ever been in there, and he’s got some very unique ways of looking at the racetrack. Frankly, it makes it even more fun than the place already is. We’re keeping him fresh. We’re pampering him. He wasn’t even allowed in the shop this past week. We have him conditioned because if he can do with our guys like he did with me the first time I went there – like I said, we got through a good portion of the racetrack during the test days and we’ll start up where we left off and keep grinding. He’s going to be tired after the weekend, running from corner to corner. My first year I went there, we qualified on the pole and we had a straightaway lead on the field, a half-second faster than anybody, and we stuck a gearbox. Not the driver’s fault. It actually was a part failure. But the next year there we finished third. We were quite a bit better than that, but we had a little hiccup. So, I’ve had The Glen circled on my calendar – it’s a big one on my mind for us this year.”

Do you or your dad have a favorite or standout memory from competing at Watkins Glen?

“There are a lot of people who will remind me – and I don’t even know if Dad remembers this of the first time he ever ran a Cup car there and was with the Roulo Brothers, which was an ARCA team at the time, and he ran really, really well. He and I are funny, we don’t tend to reminisce and talk about the old days much. We tend to look forward and try to get better – maybe to a detriment, at times. That’s usually why both of our conversations are always about trying to make things better. Maybe we’ll reminisce one day.”

About TeamSLR:

TeamSLR competes fulltime in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli in a multifaceted effort that includes dedicated entries in the TA2 division, customer programs, driver coaching and car construction. Its history dates back to 1985 and covers a wide spectrum of motorsports, including NASCAR, IMSA, SCCA, ARCA and ASA. TeamSLR is a family-owned organization run by Scott Lagasse Sr., and Scott Lagasse Jr., The father-and-son duo have combined to win more than 100 races and seven championships across a variety of series and styles of racecars, from paved ovals to road courses to dirt tracks. For more information, please visit us online at www.TeamSLR.com, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and on LinkedIn.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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