By Pat Jennings - Motorsport.com Lexington, OH - Two-time Trans-Am champion Paul Gentilozzi saved his best lap for last in Friday afternoon's qualifying session to capture the pole for Saturday's Trans-Am Series race at the Mid Ohio Sports ...
By Pat Jennings - Motorsport.com
Lexington, OH - Two-time Trans-Am champion Paul Gentilozzi saved his best lap for last in Friday afternoon's qualifying session to capture the pole for Saturday's Trans-Am Series race at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. In doing so, Gentilozzi claimed his sixth pole in nine events and added to his lengthy list of accomplishments at Mid Ohio. Since making his Trans-Am debut here in 1981, Gentilozzi has two wins (1998 and 1999), two seconds (1991 and 1993), and three thirds (1990, 1992, and 1994). In fact, Gentilozzi dominated the 1999 Trans-Am race at Mid Ohio, winning the pole and leading every lap of the race.
"I like the race track [Mid Ohio] a lot and I've made great qualifying attempts here in the past," Gentilozzi said. "It was hard. I didn't think that we were going to get the pole. I thought Tommy [Archer] had it. I took one more flier and took some more chances and got a lucky lap."
"To go fast at Mid Ohio you have to be a real race driver. All of the [complaining] aside about this and that, and varying horsepower, you have to know how to get around here and it takes experience and some skill. Every corner here is an opportunity to make a mistake."
Archer, who has a win and one pole this season, will start second in his Dodge Viper, while Indy Lights regular Tony Ave qualified his Qvale Mangusta third on the grid. "First time I've raced a Trans-Am car in a year. So I haven't totally forgotten everything. It went really well. We picked it up pretty good right away and then I got in some traffic; came in tried to make it better, and when I went out I could not find the same opening that I had to begin with. Maybe there was a little more there, but were pretty happy."
1998 FIA GT champion Justin Bell qualified his Corvette fourth. "Sebring was the last time we were fourth on the grid. But the end of that race wasn't so good for us. We had a couple of great races, but Elkhart Lake was pretty disastrous. I think that the new [body] shapes have put us at a disadvantage because when you hit a certain speed at the car just stops dead. Here, the car has quite a lot of down force and it worked very well."
Boris Said rounds out the top-five.
Johnny Miller, who is 19 points behind Gentilozzi in the championship point standings, starts seventh tomorrow. And Brian Simo will start in 10th.
Gentilozzi's pole is the 26th of his career.
Six different drivers have won this season: Archer, Gentilozzi, Lou Gigliotti, Michael Lewis, Boris Said, and Brian Simo. And four drivers have won the past four races - Gentilozzi, Simo, Archer, and Lewis.
In fact, Lewis scored the first Trans-Am victory of his career last weekend at Road America.
Five different marques have won in 2001: Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Jaguar, and Qvale.