Long Beach: Justin Bell race report

Round 1 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Cup Johnson Controls 100 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach April 14, 2002 Bell challenged for win in dramatic last lap pass at Long Beach. Must-See race to air on Speed Channel April 20 LONG BEACH, CA...

Round 1
Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Cup
Johnson Controls 100
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
April 14, 2002

Bell challenged for win in dramatic last lap pass at Long Beach.
Must-See race to air on Speed Channel April 20

LONG BEACH, CA It has been described as one of the most exciting finishes in Trans-Am history. During the Trans-Am Series race at Long Beach, Justin Bell demonstrated again why he should never be counted out. In a dramatic last lap shuffle for the lead at Long Beach, Bell took advantage of the physical battle between Paul Gentilozzi and Boris Said, dodging them both under braking and taking the lead. While Gentilozzi was able to pass Justin Back for the lead, Boris Said made contact with the rear of the #40 www.711.tv Chevrolet Corvette, causing Bell to spin out. Bell recovered to finish 8th in Round 1 of the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Cup. The intense race will be aired on Fox's Speed Channel, Saturday, April 20 at 5:00 PM EST.

"Sometimes you take a risk and sometimes it doesn't pay off," explained Bell. "I know I had 3rd position locked up, but I simply can't settle for that. Paul and Boris were bumping each other on the last lap. I saw an opportunity and I had to go for it. I went very deep under braking and I knew the brakes were soft, and that it would compromise my exit. I was prepared for that and I saw Paul pass me back. I slid in behind, then Boris popped me in the rear and took me out. I suppose I should be upset, but I am very happy with the car and it proves that, in spite of having no testing this winter, we are as strong as we were at the end of last season."

Bell qualified 15th after losing all power steering early in the session. During the race, he made steady progress through the field during the race. The Derhaag Motorsports crew executed a flawless pit stop. Both Bell and teammate Simon Gregg pitted at the same time under a full course yellow. Bell was on his way after only five seconds, Gregg fell in right behind Justin. Bell made up four positions on the track during the stop. He quickly moved to 3rd and remained in the top three for the final segment of the race.

Bell was the Trans-Am Series 2001 AmeriSuites Rookie of the Year. Bell won the final two races of the 2001 season in the Derhaag Chevrolet Corvette. A class-winner at Le Mans and FIA GT2 Champion, Justin is the also managing partner of the Justin Bell GT Motorsports Experience, a Corvette Driving School located in West Palm County, FL.

-jbr/cw-

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Boris Said , Justin Bell , Paul Gentilozzi , Simon Gregg