Paul Gentilozzi And Johnson Controls Win Third Trans-Am Championship In Record-Setting Year
Lansing, Mich.- Paul Gentilozzi, driver of the No.3 Johnson Controls/HomeLink Jaguar XKR, clinched his third Trans-Am Drivers' Championship in four years at the season finale of the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup during the Texaco/Havoline Houston Grand Prix.
Gentilozzi is the only driver to win three Trans-Am titles in three different marques - his first in 1998 in a Chevy Corvette, the second in 1999 in a Ford Mustang, and this season in a Jaguar XKR. Gentilozzi, who has 23 Trans-Am wins, also joins Mark Donohue and Tommy Kendall as the only drivers to have won three or more Trans-Am championships.
Gentilozzi's 2001 Trans-Am earnings of $415,864 also set a new single season record. In addition, the road racing veteran holds many other records in Trans-Am competition. He ranks first in race starts (173), "Fast Five" qualifying starts (103), total winnings ($1,584,271), single season earnings ($415,684), and laps led (1,376). Gentilozzi is also first in top-three finishes (55), top-five finishes (86), top-ten finishes (114), fastest race laps (30), lead-lap finishes (112), and is tied for the number of fastest race laps in one season (9).
"This is what every competitor dreams about," said Gentilozzi, who scored four wins and six poles in the 2001 season. "I've been blessed with three championships."
Gentilozzi, whose Rocketsports Racing team is based in Lansing, Michigan, credits his crew in large part for his achievements. "The fact that we've been together for so long plays a big role in our success," explained Gentilozzi. "Four of my crew members have more than 50 combined years of dedication and commitment to Rocketsports. These championships are a testament to their abilities, hard work, and accomplishments."
Gentilozzi's primary sponsor, Johnson Controls, has been involved during all three championship seasons. "We're so fortunate to have a partner like Johnson Controls who believes in us and understands the marketing value of participating in the Trans-Am Series. It's a pleasure to deliver them a third title."
Last season, Gentilozzi entered the San Diego season finale with a 16-point lead, but a fluke mechanical failure robbed him of his third consecutive title. "The toughest thing to do after winning a championship is losing it," explained Gentilozzi. "Once you're on top, everything else is losing.
"Winning that third title is my job, that's what we're supposed to do. But without Jaguar, this one wouldn't mean as much," said Gentilozzi, who clinched Jaguar's first Manufacturers' title since 1978 with his Mid-Ohio win. "This one means more because for Jaguar to win a championship in America is really special. They have such a history of success in racing and it's been a long time since they've made such a statement in Trans-Am competition. It means even more that we played a major role in controlling that destiny."