Denver: Round seven preview

POINTS RACE TIGHTENS AS THE TRANS-AM SERIES HITS THE MILE HIGH CITY FOR THE CYTOMAX SPORT DRINK 100 AT THE GRAND PRIX OF DENVER DENVER (Aug. 8, 2004) -- This weekend's Cytomax Sport Drink 100 in Denver could be the defining factor on who ...

POINTS RACE TIGHTENS AS THE TRANS-AM SERIES HITS THE MILE HIGH CITY FOR THE CYTOMAX SPORT DRINK 100 AT THE GRAND PRIX OF DENVER

DENVER (Aug. 8, 2004) -- This weekend's Cytomax Sport Drink 100 in Denver could be the defining factor on who collects the Trans-Am Series' 40th Anniversary Drivers' Championship trophy, and who will have to wait until next year. With just 18 points separating the top-three drivers in the title chase, the title is literally up for grabs as the Trans-Am Series stages Round 7 of this year's nine-race schedule. The Cytomax Sport Drink 100 is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13 and is part of the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare weekend.

The race is being sponsored by Cytomax Sport Drink. Cytomax, a brand of ChampBev, Inc., also sponsored Round 6 at San Jose and also backed this year's season opener at Long Beach. The Benicia, Calif.-based company is owned by 1978 Trans-Am Drivers' Champion Greg Pickett, who is scheduled to compete here in the No. 6 Cytomax/Muscle Milk Jaguar XKR.

Pickett has had a dream season thus far, earning three runner-up efforts, as well as a fourth-place finish. The 1978 Trans-Am champion made history with his victory in Round 5 at Edmonton, becoming the first driver in Trans-Am history to win a race in each of four decades of competition. Despite missing the this year's Cleveland race due to a previous business engagement, Pickett now sits third in points, a mere 18 markers behind leader Randy Ruhlman.

Rulman, however, could be the man to beat as he's having his own breakout season in 2005. The driver of the No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette started the year off in Long Beach with a victory, and hasn't relinquished the championship lead since. He also won at Cleveland, after starting last due a crash early in the weekend, and has scored two additional top-five finishes. Ruhlman is also the only driver to have competed in every Denver Grand Prix: 1990, 1991, 2002, and 2003. Ruhlman finished fifth here last year.

German rookie Klaus Graf has also proved himself a worthy competitor this year. Sitting second in the standings, just 13 points back, Graf has had a stellar season. Despite some mechanical issues early in 2005, Graf has one victory--at Portland--and has finished on the podium twice in the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR.

Though his championship aspirations took a hit at San Jose, third-year driver Joey Scarallo is still in contention, 20 points behind Ruhlman. Scarallo is debuting his new sponsor, Cytomax, this weekend, along with his longtime backer Toyo Tires on the No. 06 Chevrolet Corvette. Scarallo joined a new team this year, led by short-track legend and former Trans-Am driver Tony Ave. Scarallo, however, will have to do without his team owner this weekend as Ave is taking on NASCAR's best Sunday at Watkins Glen.

Tomy Drissi (No. 5 Four Brothers -- The Movie Jaguar XKR) too had his own bad luck at San Jose. The Hollywood native, who sits fifth in points, will attempt to turn things around here.

Though Paul Gentilozzi's championship hopes may have dimmed, he is always a force at Denver. Gentilozzi (No. 1 Jaguar R Performance XKR) won last year's race here, tying Mark Donohue for first on Trans-Am's all-time win list. Gentilozzi put an exclamation point on his place in the Trans-Am history books this year by eclipsing that record with his 30th career victory, at Toronto. Gentilozzi also sits first in street and temporary course victories with 18.

Other drivers in the field to watch include: Mike Davis (No. 10 ACS Express Ford Mustang), John Baucom (No. 86 MAP Quality Engineering/SoftwareToolbox.com Ford Mustang), as well as rookie Hima Maher (No. 78 Centennial Motorsports of Calgary), who is Ruhlman's Derhaag Motorsports teammate.

Trans-Am's 2003 GT-1 Champion Jeff Emery will return to Trans-Am competition this weekend in the No. 15 Sirius Satellite Radio/Sagequest Vehicle Tracking Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Moneca Kolvyn (No. 08 West Coast Hot Rods Chevrolet Monte Carlo) and Paul Fix (No. 77 Stop Flex/Buca di Beppo/Hotel Monaco/Pennzoil Ford Mustang) will continue their own battle for GT-1 glory.

The GT-1 Driver Development Program features Trans-Am-specification cars, but is reserved for up-and-coming teams from SCCA Club Racing's GT-1 division. The GT-1 Class winner is honored at each race this season, and features its own championship.

The GT America Class will also be well represented here, as Scotsman John Dalziel will make his Trans-Am debut in the No. 52 ASILimited Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Dalziel, the older brother of Toyota Atlantic Championship standout Ryan Dalziel, is driving for SS Racing this weekend with assistance from three-time ASA Champion Butch Miller. The SS Team is taking advantage of new GTA rules that allow former ASA cars to compete in Trans-Am's GTA Class.

Tim Barber comes to Denver with nearly insurmountable 23-point lead in the GTA Championship standings, while Steve Kelso is looking for his second 2005 GTA victory. They will be joined by: Rahul Pinto,Guy Dreier, John Condren, Rob Rodriguez and Roy Isley.

The GTA Class features V8-powered, tube-framed sedans. Eligible makes and models include Pontiac Grand Prix, Dodge Intrepid, Oldsmobile Cutlass, Ford Thunderbird and Taurus and Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The Class will be recognized with its own championship, as well as recognition in each race this season.

The Cytomax Sport Drink 100, Round 7 of the 2005 Trans-Am Championship and part of the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare weekend, is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Aug. 12-13, 2005. Saturday's race will air Saturday, Aug. 20 on SPEED Channel at 1 p.m. EDT.

Cytomax Sport Drink is the world's most scientifically advanced complex carbohydrate, electrolyte performance sport drink. It ensures proper hydration, steady energy and reduced fatigue during exercise for both the professional and casual athlete. Previously available only in a powder format at specialized retail locations, Cytomax Ready to Drink formula was launched nationwide in May, 2005 and can now be purchased at numerous retail outlets including 7-Eleven, Albertson's, and King Soopers.

The Trans-Am Series features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Series is America's oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 40th continuous year of competition in 2005.

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Klaus Graf , Paul Fix , Tony Ave , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Randy Ruhlman , Greg Pickett , John Baucom , Tim Barber , Jeff Emery , Mike Davis , Moneca Kolvyn , Steve Kelso , Butch Miller , Roy Isley , Rahul Pinto , John Condren , Guy Dreier , Mark Donohue