Watkins Glen: Trans-Am drivers race report

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup stars Robby Gordon and Scott Pruett shined in Sunday's Sirius at The Glen Winston Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International. While Gordon, who won in his sole Trans-Am Series...

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup stars Robby Gordon and Scott Pruett shined in Sunday's Sirius at The Glen Winston Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International. While Gordon, who won in his sole Trans-Am Series start at Long Beach in 1992, completed a sweep of this year's NASCAR road races, having won earlier this year at Infineon Raceway, Pruett, finishing second, recorded his best Winston Cup finish at the 2.45-mile road course.

In fact, the big story was current Trans-Am Series points leader Pruett, who's career best Winston Cup finish is only overshadowed by his dominant run in this year's Trans-Am Series title chase. Pruett, a two-time Trans-Am Series champion (1987 and 1994) regularly drives the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR in the Trans-Am Series.

Gordon, driving the No. 31 Cingular Chevrolet Monte Carlo, took the lead on lap 62 of the 90-lap event, after pitting just before a caution flag waved for Rusty Wallace's spin 10 laps earlier. Meanwhile, Pruett, driving the No. 39 Target Dodge Intrepid R/T used the same pit strategy to place him in front of the field. Pruett passed Kevin Harvick on the final restart on lap 79, and held strong during the waning laps, despite challenges from four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon.

"That pit stop was right in our window," said Pruett, who has won five of seven Trans-Am Series races this season, and has earned six poles. In his Trans-Am Series career, Pruett has 19 wins, 36 podium finishes, and 38 top-five finishes in 55 starts. "All of the Target guys did a tremendous job. We had a strategy that we thought we could play; it was an aggressive one, and it all depended on those cautions. They happened to work out just the way we wanted them to.

"Unfortunately, we pitted so late at the end that we had to conserve fuel," added Pruett, who contested his rookie Winston Cup season in 2000. "We wanted to go after Robby, but we had to conserve fuel at the same time. We paced him, but I don't think we could have passed him.

Pruett, who ran as third in last year's Winston Cup race here before finishing sixth, said he was hoping for a late caution.

"A late restart would have allowed me to go for it," said Pruett. "But, you know, I'm happy with second, even though you never should be happy with second. This is a career best for us. The Target guys worked really hard to get this fourth car here."

Gordon said track position was the key to his second Winston Cup victory this season and third in his career.

"We knew we were going to be close on fuel," said Gordon, who has also competed in IMSA, Champ Car and Indy 500 competition. "We were hoping we were going to have some cautions. As soon as Rusty spun, Kevin (Hamlin, crew chief) said 'come now.' That track position made the difference.

"Track position is so important here," added Gordon, who secured his Trans-Am Series victory for team owner Jack Roush in a Ford Mustang. "The first half of the race I was just saving the brakes and saving the car. I don't know if we had the best car today, but we ended up winning the race, and that's due to teamwork."

Meanwhile, several other Trans-Am Series racers had a strong showing here. Johnny Miller, who drives the No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR in the Trans-Am Series, ran in the top five for several laps in the middle stages of the event, but fell back late after an off-course excursion in the No. 04 Kodak Pontiac Grand Prix. 2002 Trans-Am Series champion Boris Said finished 39th after a late-race crash, while Ron Fellows, who recorded 19 Trans-Am Series victories from 1995-1997, suffered a similar fate and finished 38th. Paul Menard, who has made six Trans-Am Series starts, finished 29th, on the lead lap.

Pruett and Miller, along with the rest of the Trans-Am Series field, will next compete at Road America, in Round 8 of the 2003 Trans-Am Series championship in Elkhart Lake, Wis. on Sunday, Aug. 24. That race will air on same-day, tape-delayed basis at 12:30 p.m. EDT.

The Trans-Am Series is America's oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 38th anniversary in 2003.

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Rusty Wallace , Boris Said , Kevin Harvick , Robby Gordon , Scott Pruett , Johnny Miller , Paul Menard , Jack Roush