Said Extends Championship Lead By Collecting Second Consecutive Trans-Am Series wictory at Lime Rock. LIME ROCK, Conn. (May 27, 2002) -- Boris Said of ACS Express Racing extended his lead in the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires ...
Said Extends Championship Lead By Collecting Second Consecutive Trans-Am Series wictory at Lime Rock.
LIME ROCK, Conn. (May 27, 2002) -- Boris Said of ACS Express Racing extended his lead in the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup championship Monday by capturing the Trans-Am portion of the Mohegan Sun Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.
Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions Panoz Esperante) who took the championship lead with a victory at Mosport (Ont.) International Raceway last weekend, extended it by driving to 4.566-second triumph over Tony Ave in the third of 12 rounds in the 2002 Trans-Am championship. Rookie Butch Leitzinger rounded out the podium with a third-place performance.
After becoming the first Trans-Am driver to win back-to-back events since Justin Bell, the 2001 AmeriSuites Rookie of the Year, Said, who also owns a podium finish of second at Long Beach, has 94 championship points, 20 more than Johnny Miller, who stands second with 74.
Miller (#64 Automation Direct/Eaton/Cutler Hammer Jaguar XKR) maintained second place in the championship following a sixth-place finish Monday, while three-time and defending Trans-Am Series champion Paul Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls/Microchip/MatrixOne/Futaba Jaguar XKR), who led a race-high 34 laps Monday, continued in third with 73 points following a fifth-place result.
Said took the lead on the 61st of 66 laps when polesitter Stu Hayner (#02 Trenton Forging/Tom Bell Chevrolet/Rockland STD Gear Chevrolet Corvette) the polesitter, pulled off the 1.53-mile permanent road course with a mechanical problem. Hayner had led laps 46 through 60 in his bid for a second career Trans-Am victory, and was likely going to attempt a run to the checkered flag without making a fuel stop.
The Trans-Am Series reduced the size of competitors' fuel cells from 32 to 24 gallons prior to this season, making it less likely for drivers to be able to cover the standard 100-mile race distance without stopping for fuel.
"I was hoping he [Hayner] would have to stop," Said recalled. "We tried different scenarios of making it without pitting all weekend, and there wasn't any way we could make it work, so I was hoping the same thing would be true for them.
"I think pit stops are great because they add a different element of strategy to the races," Said continued. "Our strategy just played out today. It was a great day for the ACS team."
The victory was especially significant to Said because it came at Lime Rock, his home track during his formative years as a racer.
"It feels good to win one here," Said allowed. "I grew up here; this is the first track I ever went to, and I worked here as an instructor for [track president] Skip Barber when I was first starting out.
"I've won a couple of Firestone Firehawk races here, but this is my biggest win at Lime Rock," Said summed up.
Ave (#53 Trilithic Panoz Esperante), who lost a likely podium finish last weekend at Mosport due to a mechanical problem, bounced back in fine fashion with a career-best runner-up result in his 23rd start, exceeding third at Road America in 2000.
"The thing I was most upset about last week was losing the points," Ave said. "We proved that we could be competitive with these guys, so it was just a question of going out putting together the effort we knew we were capable of.
"I thought going into the race that Boris and Butch were going to be the guys to beat, so we decided to do whatever they did as far as pit stops were concerned. I got an excellent stop from my guys, and things played out exactly the way we thought they would."
Like Ave, Leitzinger (#88 Tommy Bahama Chevrolet Corvette) posted a career-best finish by taking third in only his fourth Trans-Am start. His previous best was seventh in his Trans-Am debut at Sebring in 1999.
"Our pit stop was a little too long," Leitzinger recalled, "and then I made it even longer by stumbling a little bit coming out of the pit box. After that, I picked up a bit of an understeer in the second stint; I just think we missed a little bit on the setup.
"But it's a relief to finish one of these things on the podium, after the way the season started," said Leitzinger, who owned finishes of 13th at Long Beach and 18th at Mosport coming into the weekend.
Michael Lewis (#12 AmeriSuites Jaguar XKR) finished a season-best fourth, while Gentilozzi rounded out the top five. Rounding out the unofficial top 10 in championship points, behind Said, Miller and Gentilozzi, are Justin Bell (#40 XtremeLens Chevrolet Corvette), with 62 points; Randy Ruhlman (#49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette), with 59; Lou Gigliotti (LG Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette), with 57; Ave, with 56; Leitzinger, with 53; Lewis, with 52, and Tomy Drissi (Rocketsports Racing Jaguar XKR), with 49.
The Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup continues with Round 4 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday, June 29. The race will be televised via same-day tape delay by CBS Sports, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.
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