Last lap heroics lift Hayner to pole For Trans-Am Series season finale at Virginia International Raceway.
ALTON, Va. (October 26, 2002) -- Stuart Hayner made his last lap his best one Saturday when he claimed the pole position for Sunday's final round of the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup at Virginia International Raceway (1 p.m. ET, live, SPEED Channel).
Hayner (#02 Trenton Forging Chevrolet Corvette) knocked 2002 Trans-Am Series champion Boris Said off the pole when he recorded a lap of 107.675 miles per hour (1 minute, 49.329 seconds) on his final trip around the 3.27-mile permanent road course. Hayner's time was just 19 one-thousandths of a second better than that of Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions Ford Mustang), who will join Hayner on the front row following a lap of 1:49.348 (107.656).
"This [Revolution Motorsports] team has grown so much, especially when you consider that one year ago we didn't even have a team," said Hayner, who earned two championship points and the Jaguar Pole Award after collecting his second pole of the season. The two points pulled Hayner within four (237-233) of Johnny Miller for fourth place in the championship, and the Jaguar Pole Award gave him a second opportunity at a two-year lease on a Jaguar XKR Sports Coupe when the Jaguar Pole Award Giveaway takes place here Sunday morning.
"We keep getting better and better and better," Hayner added. "I can't say enough for this team. They have so much faith in me, and I in them. It's been a great relationship and you can see it in the results we're producing on the race track."
Hayner has been remarkably consistent since late June, posting top-five results in seven of his past eight starts, including podium performances of third at Cleveland, Denver and Road Atlanta. He will be seeking his first victory of the campaign this weekend, but has come close twice, most recently earlier this month at Miami, where he held the lead going into the final lap before encountering a suspension failure.
"We've had a lot of disappointment this season, but this isn't my first year of doing this, and I know those kinds of things happen," Hayner said. "When they do, you pull together as a team and come back even stronger."
Said's outside pole position put him among the top three starters in all 12 Trans-Am Series events this season, including poles at Trois-Rivieres and Miami. Said, who clinched the 2002 BFGoodrich Tires Cup at Road Atlanta two weeks ago, has switched from his regular ride in a Panoz Esperante to a Mustang this weekend, while Said's ACS Express team owner, Mike Davis, has taken the wheel of the Esperante.
"We made the switch because Ford has 99 Trans-Am wins and we want to take a shot at giving them their one-hundredth," Said explained. "The body style is a little different, but it's a good car, and it was a lot faster today than it was in practice [Friday].
"I'm looking forward to the race," Said added. "I don't have anything to lose. I'm going for broke."
Butch Leitzinger (#88 Tommy Bahama/Tom Gloy Chevrolet Corvette), the 2002 AmeriSuites Rookie of the Year, qualified third at 107.553 mph (1:49.453). Leitzinger, who leads the series with five pole positions, will make his 11th top-three start in 12 events this season. He picked up a point for his performance and holds a 264-261 lead over three-time Trans-Am Series champion Paul Gentilozzi in the race for runner-up honors to Said in the 2002 championship.
"This is a fantastic track," said Leitzinger. "It's a real throwback, just like it was 20 years ago. It has its parts where it's difficult to pass, but it's the same way for everybody. And when you're on your own and can do a lap by yourself, it's just fantastic."
Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls/Microchip/MatrixOne/Futaba Jaguar XKR) did not qualify Saturday after sustaining a broken seventh rib on his right side in an accident during testing on Thursday. He still plans to participate in Sunday's race, pending clearance by Trans-Am Series Medical Director Dr. Ron Krome.
"You don't like to end the season this way," said Gentilozzi, Trans-Am champion in 1998, '99 and last year. "It's not appropriate. But on Sunday, I'll suck it up, get in the car, and do it. I want to try to protect our position in the point standings. I owe that to my team and sponsors."
Miller (#64 Automation Direct/Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR) qualified fourth at 107.066 mph (1:49.951), followed by Tony Ave (#53 Trilithic Panoz Esperante), who will start fifth after a lap of 107.016 mph (1:50.002).