Gentilozzi to defend championship

Lansing, MI - Three-time Trans-Am champion Paul Gentilozzi will return to the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup for the 2002 season seeking his fourth drivers' title in five years. His 2001 title tied him with the legendary Mark Donohue...

Lansing, MI - Three-time Trans-Am champion Paul Gentilozzi will return to the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup for the 2002 season seeking his fourth drivers' title in five years. His 2001 title tied him with the legendary Mark Donohue with three Trans-Am championships apiece. Should Gentilozzi win his fourth championship, he'd join road racing ace Tom Kendall as the only other driver to have collected four Trans-Am titles.

Gentilozzi, who drove the No.3 Johnson Controls/HomeLink Jaguar XKR in 2001, clinched his third title in four years by 32 points over teammate Johnny Miller and 2000 titlist Brian Simo by finishing sixth in Houston. Gentilozzi is the only driver to win three titles in three different marques.

"I'm coming back because there's a fourth championship at stake and the record stands at four," said Gentilozzi, team owner of Rocketsports Racing and winner of the 2002 Rolex 24 of Daytona - GTS class. "I've always said it's a lot harder to defend a championship than it is to win one, and I don't expect it to be any different this year. Once you're on top, everything else is losing."

In 2001, Gentilozzi collected six poles and four victories, including three consecutive wins. His Mid-Ohio win clinched the Manufacturers' Championship for Jaguar for the first time since 1978. Gentilozzi was also voted to the AARWBA All-American First Team for the third time in four years.

"This series has wonderfully competitive racing which means a lot to both the drivers and the fans," explained Gentilozzi. "I still want very much to be a part of that; I'm not ready to hang up my helmet just yet."

Gentilozzi's tenure in the Trans-Am Series has produced numerous series' records. He ranks first in all-time top-three (55), top-five (86), and top-ten finishes (114), laps led (1,376), lead lap finishes (112) as well as fastest race laps (30), race starts (173), and "Fast Five" starts (103). Gentilozzi also holds the record for single season earnings ($415,684) and total prize money won ($1,584,271).

Gentilozzi is currently third on the all-time list of race wins with 23 victories. With a strong season, he could easily pass Tom Kendall in second place with 26 wins and leader Mark Donohue with 29 victories. Gentilozzi scored as many as seven wins in a single season (1998).

"That's definitely part of the motivation," revealed Gentilozzi. "You don't want to leave until you've beaten the ghosts. That's what it's really all about."

The 2002 Trans-Am Series season kicks off with a return to the streets of Miami for the Grand Prix of the Americas on April 5-7.

-rm-

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Brian Simo , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller , Tom Kendall , Mark Donohue