SCCA PRO FAX - Volume 3, Number 20 - September 13, 1996
TRANS-AM SEASON FINALE UP NEXT: The final race of the 1996 Trans-Am Championship is upon us, as the 30th anniversary season draws to a close with the inaugural running of the Reno Grand Prix at the Reno Hilton, Presented by IGT Megabucks. The race is slated for Sunday, September 22, and is being carried live on The Nashville Network, beginning at 3:00 p.m. Eastern (12:00 p.m. local time).
IT'S KENDALL VS. SCHROEDER: With 13 races in the books and one to go, the championship battle has come down to a two-man contest between Tom Kendall (#11 All Sport Body Quencher Ford Mustang Cobra) and Dorsey Schroeder (#12 Raybestos Ford Mustang Cobra). Headed into Reno, Kendall leads the Drivers' Championship with 352 points, followed by Schroeder with 336. Kendall, who can clinch his third Trans-Am title with a sixth or better finish, is looking to become the first Trans-Am driver to win back-to-back titles since Wally Dallenbach Jr., who did it in 1985-86.
BATTLES THROUGHOUT: Certainly all eyes are on Tom Kendall and Dorsey Schroeder, but great battles are being fought throughout the top-10. Nine points separate the third through fifth positions, as Ron Fellows (#3 Sunoco/AER Manufacturing Camaro), Jamie Galles (#2 ICI/Glidden Camaro) and Scott Sharp (#33 Rain-X Oil Energizer Camaro) will convene in Reno with scores to settle. Only 12 points separate sixth, seventh and eighth, and that skirmish involves Brian Simo (#22 Valvoline Mustang), Greg Pickett (#6 Cytomax/Rain-X Camaro) and Boris Said III (#14 Lion's Pride Mustang). Bill Saunders and Jon Gooding have a battle brewing for ninth and 10th, with Saunders holding a 10-point lead heading into Reno.
OVER $200,000 UP FOR GRABS: Over $200,000 in year-end points fund awards and sponsored programs are at stake, including: The Raybestos Fastest Qualifier of the Year, $7,500; The Raybestos Rising Star of the Year, $3,000; The OPTIMA Batteries Quick Charger of the Year, $7,500; The TotalTel Long Distance Awards Program, $15,000; The Walker/DynoMax Points Fund, $30,000; The Speedvision Network Appearance Plan Points Fund, $10,000; The Top-10 Points Fund, $122,000. The BBS Most Improved Driver, $3,500; Red Line Oil Contingency Awards, $5,500; and the Fuel Safe Contingency Awards, $5,500.
SCHROEDER GOES FOR THE JACKPOT: Dorsey Schroeder faces a must-win situation at Reno. Having won the first two jewels of the Road to Reno Harrah's Triple Crown (Phoenix and Watkins Glen), Schroeder can walk away with the $50,000 jackpot if he wins the Reno Grand Prix. With the Championship as well as the $50,000 prize at stake, there's no doubt that Schroeder will be sufficiently motivated. The Dallas race was a huge heartbreak, but that's behind us now, said Schroeder. My strategy for Reno is quite simple. We're going for the win. I'm looking straight in the face of a $50,000 bonus. I'm pumped up and we're going to Reno with all barrels loaded.
FORD CLINCHES MANUFACTURERS' TITLE: There's one battle that was decided in Dallas, and that's the Trans-Am Manufacturers' Championship. Kendall's second-place finish on the streets of Dallas clinched the 1996 Manufacturers' title for Ford, and it's been a balanced attack. Ford's eight victories this season include four by Roush Racing's Tom Kendall and four by Gloy Racing's Dorsey Schroeder. The 1996 title is Ford's sixth in Trans-Am, and 10th including Lincoln-Mercury's titles. It feels very good to have the championship in our back pocket, said Lee Morse, Performance Operations Manager of Ford SVO. We're very proud of Tom (Kendall) and Dorsey (Schroeder), and we're ecstatic that the Drivers' Championship has come down to a battle between the two. It's just a shame they both can't win it because they've both had great seasons.
LAGOD ON THE MOVE: Max Lagod (#83 HyperMax Camaro) is certainly establishing himself as one of the Trans-Am's up and coming drivers. The Reno race will be his 10th of the season, and he's recorded top-10 finishes in six races thus far, including his last three outings (10th at Watkins Glen; a career best sixth at Road America; eighth at Dallas). Lagod has already clinched the Raybestos Rising Star of the Year award, thanks to his four Rising Star of the Race awards (Homestead, Mosport Park, Road America and Dallas) and the 26 Rising Star points he's tallied on the season. He's also in the running for Rookie of the Year honors.
ROOKIE HONORS STILL UP FOR GRABS: The 1996 Rookie-of-the-Year program has featured incredible competition between Bob Ruman (#23 Cenweld/Ultra Shine Camaro), John Miller IV (#64 PLC Direct Camaro) and Lagod. Ruman came out of the gate as the early-season leader, thanks to strong finishes at St. Petersburg (10th) and Homestead (12th). After missing two races (Phoenix and Mosport), he's made the final eight races, most recently finishing 14th at Road America and 12th at Dallas. Miller has made all 13 Trans-Am starts, and has been gaining momentum as the season has progressed, thanks to a mid-season equipment upgrade (to a Rocketsports chassis). Miller, with 11ths at Minnesota, Watkins Glen and Dallas, has been knocking on the door of top-10 finishes and seems poised to break the door down. Lagod has missed four races on the season but his six top-10 finishes have him in the thick of the battle. With just Reno to go, Miller leads with 129 points, followed by Lagod with 119 and Ruman at 109.
OPTIMA BATTERIES QUICK CHARGER UPDATE: Jon Gooding (#16 Mountain Dew Mustang), with 46 positions improved on the season, continues to lead the OPTIMA Batteries Quick Charger of the Year competition and thus is in line for the $7,500 cash bonus for improving the most positions over the course of the season. One of the stipulations of the award is that a driver must have won at least one Quick Charger of the Race award. Gooding accomplished the feat at the Cleveland race, where he improved 16 positions and finished 11th on the day. R.J. Valentine (#7 Pennzoil Products Camaro) has improved 51 positions on the season and remains a strong contender for the year-end award, but he must win the OPTIMA Batteries Quick Charger of the Race award at Reno to be eligible for the year-end award.
INDY CAR RACER DAVY JONES TO RACE AT RENO: Indy Car racer Davy Jones, who lives in nearby Lake Tahoe, Nevada, will drive one of David Rosenblum's Quaker State Saturns in the World Challenge Touring (T2 class) race at the Reno Grand Prix. Jones has some time on his hands again, now that the IndyCar season is over, where he raced a handful of races for Galles International. Jones has European experience (LeMans, British Formula 3), but is best known for his accomplishments in the U.S., where he won 11 IMSA GTP races during an eight-year career, following a development year in Super Vee, where he won four races.
MORE RENO DEBUTS: Rick Lee, a veteran of the American City Racing League series, has bought a Trans-Am race car and will make his Trans-Am debut at the Reno Grand Prix. Larry Mason, an Olds Pro Series and Formula Atlantic veteran, will be making his Spec Racer Ford Pro Series debut at Reno, driving a WinSpec Racing entry. Lee bought the Ford Mustang (Weaver chassis, Steve Jennings engine) that Michael Lewis drove to seventh and 13th-place finishes at Phoenix and Portland in 1995. Lee, who lives in Lake Tahoe, is being sponsored by the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, E-Z Up Tents, and Composite Materials, Inc. Mason is teamed with June Sprints winner Lee Fleming, and has sponsorship from Performance Plus Auto Centers, Manhattan Ford and Valvoline.
COPPELLI LOOKS TO REBOUND: Almo Coppelli (#00 RFG/Augusta Callaway Corvette LM) started the 1996 World Challenge season with three straight victories and it appeared the S2 Class Championship was his for the taking. The championship has tightened significantly though, as Coppelli has gone winless in the last four World Challenge races while Shane Lewis has come on to win two of the last four contests. With just three races remaining, the Drivers' Championship still favors Coppelli over Lewis, but the margin between them is just three points (195 to 192). Steve Saleen (#65 Saleen/Allen Mustang) ranks third with 161 points following his first victory of the season, coming in the World Challenge's last outing, at Watkins Glen. Coppelli will be featured on ABC's Good Morning America program on Friday, Sept. 20.