Long Beach qualifying report

Long Beach, Calif. -- Paul Gentilozzi ( ...

Long Beach, Calif. -- Paul Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls HomeLink Jaguar XKR) stormed out of the first qualifying session to secure the pole for the Johnson Controls 100 presented by Simple Green, part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Gentilozzi was followed by Boris Said (#33 ACS Express Ford Mustang Cobra), Brian Simo (#88 Tommy Bahama Qvale Mangusta), Michael Lewis (#12 AmeriSuites Jaguar XKR) and Johnny Miller (#64 Automationdirect Cutler Hammer Eaton Jaguar XKR).

Gentilozzi is making his 26th career appearance on the pole at a Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup race. In addition, he is seeking his fourth victory in Long Beach. Gentilozzi’s previous wins at Long Beach were in 1988 (Olds Cutlass), 1998 (Chevrolet Corvette) and 1999 (Ford Mustang). The 1988 race was Gentilozzi’s first Series victory.

“I think everyone suffered from a major loose condition because there was no grip on the track,” said Gentilozzi. “But for us, it was even tougher. Yesterday during practice we had a mechanical problem with the power steering pump and we really never got a lap. So we were at a major disadvantage in that we really had no baseline for the car’s performance to know what to expect today. Now, we need to decide what we think the track conditions will be tomorrow. The adjustments you make will be critical for the outcome of the race.”

Said, the winner of the Trans-Am Series first round at Sebring, Fla., on March 16, came on late in the session to move into the second position. Said is making his 23rd career appearance in the Fast Five and second this season.

“I have watched this race for a number of years and it is always a Hamburger Helper kind of race,” said Said. “There are parts everywhere and my plan is to be there at the finish and not become one of the statistics.”

Simo, the Drivers’ Champion in 2000, is making his first appearance of the 2001 season in the Fast Five. This is Simo’s 52nd career appearance in the Fast Five.

“The car was a little bit loose and we are wrestling with what we are going to do tomorrow,” said Simo. “I am disappointed that we didn’t get the front row, but our guys will figure it out.”

Round Two of the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup will begin at 3:45 p.m. (PDT) tomorrow afternoon. The race, part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, will be broadcast by Speedvision on a taped basis on April 15 at 12:00 (Eastern time).

- David Lang

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Boris Said , Brian Simo , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller , Michael Lewis