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It was another podium-winning weekend for Nitro Motorsports as Thomas Annunziata and Tyler Gonzalez pushed their way to podium results this past weekend at the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. After putting four drivers in the top-five in practice two, which eventually turned into the grid for race one due to weather, Annunziata and Gonzalez gave Nitro their third and fourth podium results of the season as Rafa Matos and Ben Maier fell victim to tire punctures while in contention for top-five results. Michele Abbate closed her weekend just outside the top-ten with her best career Trans Am Series result in tenth but stood on the podium in the second position in the Pro/Am class.

After a Test Day on Thursday that featured a pair of unofficial practice sessions, Nitro Motorsports drivers were prepared to get to work Friday with practice and qualifying that would set the grid for Sunday’s round two. With one final session to dial their machines in, it was Rafa Matos who led the way with four Nitro Motorsports drivers in the top-five. Behind Matos was Thomas Annunziata in second, Tyler Gonzalez fourth, and Ben Maier in fifth while Michele Abbate, Darin Mock, and Cale Phillips were 22nd, 23rd, and 26th respectively on the time sheets.

As the team prepared for qualifying, a ravishing storm moved through the area with torrential downpours and massive flooding around the Road Atlanta facility. Deemed too dangerous for the on-track qualifying session, series officials decided to cancel qualifying and set the grid off the practice two times.

“It’s not the way we want to win the pole position, but it is proof that despite only practice, the session does and could mean a lot,” explained Nitro Motorsports’ Nick Tucker. “Very cool to have a front-row lockout with Rafa and Thomas as well as four drivers in the top-five. We have a great shot at the victory here at Road Atlanta tomorrow, and it could be a record-breaking day for Nitro Motorsports if we can maintain or improve our positions.”

Returning to the track Saturday with better conditions and rain moved out of the area, it was time to drop the green flag for race two of the championship as Matos and Annunziata led the field to the green flag. Matos jumped to the lead early until a caution on lap three slowed the field. On the restart, Matos lost the lead on the entry to turn one and settled into the second position as he held pace with the leader. Working hard to make a late race charge, a right rear tire puncture forced the #60 entry to the pit lane and out of contention for the win. Behind Matos for the first half of the race was Annunziata in third and Gonzalez in fourth, who both moved forward one position at the expense of Matos. Ben Maier ran competitively in the top-ten until he too had a rear-end failure and was forced to pit late to change as the same happened with Darin Mock.

With 36 laps complete, the event turned into a timed race as the clock began to wind down. Michele Abbate and Cale Phillips were having their best performance of the year to date running 13th and 14th as they both hoped for a restart and the opportunity to jump into the top-ten. With officials announcing a two-lap dash to the finish, it was Thomas Annunziata who held off Gonzalez on the restart to finish second, while Gonzalez fell to fourth but made a bold move on the last lap to move back into the third position and back on the podium. Abbate gained two positions during the final restart to finish just in the top-ten in the tenth position, and third in the Pro/Am ranks after starting 22nd on the grid, while Cale Phillips crossed the line 12th. Darin Mock put five Nitro Motorsports drivers inside the top-20 in 19th while Rafa Matos and Ben Maier salvaged some valuable championship points in 23rd and 25th respectively.

Tucker added, “Congrats to Thomas and Tyler on their podium results and Michele for her best result in Trans Am ever. Tough luck for Rafa and Ben with some tire issues but we will analyze the issues and come back stronger at the next one.”

It will be a quick turnaround for the Nitro Motorsports competitors as they will be back on track April 11-14 at the NOLA Motorsports Park just outside New Orleans, Louisiana.

For more information on Nitro Motorsports, please visit them online or contact Nick Tucker via email HERE or visit them online at

Photo Credit: RTD Media

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