Miami: Justin Bell race summary

Bell back with a bang. Justin returns to Trans-Am on podium in Miami. Miami, FL -October 6, 2002        After an extended absence from the 2002 Trans-Am Series season, Justin Bell reasserted his status as a front-runner during the Grand...

Bell back with a bang.
Justin returns to Trans-Am on podium in Miami.

Miami, FL -October 6, 2002        After an extended absence from the 2002 Trans-Am Series season, Justin Bell reasserted his status as a front-runner during the Grand Prix of the Americas, Oct 6.  Bell finished 2nd in the #40 Justin Bell GT Experience/Xtreme Lens Chevrolet Corvette on the slippery and confining Miami street circuit.

The Trans-Am qualifying session was rained out.  The gird order was determined by the current driver's championship point standings.  Since Justin has been sidelined for three races due to insufficient sponsorship, his absence from the season cost him on the grid. Justin started from 13th.  However, he was able to move up through the field quickly.   Bell, a south Florida resident, was extremely satisfied with his showing in front of the home crowd.

"After having to watch the last three races on Speed Channel, it was good to get back in the car," said Bell. "It's quite satisfying since not having driven for a while.  Everyone was really happy.   I just wish I had a bit more to give to Boris.  It was all we had left really.  At the end, I was hoping two cars were going to fall out instead of just the one."

Team owner Jim Derhaag is not surprised with the results.  He feels, like many others, that a street circuit suits Bell's driving style.

"He is very very precise and very consistent," said Derhaag. "He makes few mistakes."

Jim admits he made an educated guess for set-up, but feels their flawless pit stop made all the difference.

"We did ace that one.  The strategy was perfect and the guys were perfect.  You think about all the street circuits you've ever run, and then you take your best stab at it.  After the first session, I made some adjustments to the tire pressures and the shocks, but for the race, the gears were the same ones as I had on the car when we rolled it off the trailer."

The Miami street race had a"dejà vu all over again" feeling for many.  Bell, Said and Gentilozzi were embroiled in a battle for position in Miami much like the start of the season at Long Beach.  There, the final lap became one of the closest and most celebrated in Trans-Am Series history when the lead changed four times between the three drivers.  Similar to Long Beach, Bell had an extended absence from the race car before Miami.  Getting back into a car with very little time to warm up, then finishing 2nd is considered extraordinary.  Bell credits much of their success to Jim Derhaag's 27 years of Trans-AM racing experience.

Bell will contest the final round of the Trans-Am Series for the BF Goodrich Cup at Virginia International Raceway on Oct 27, 2002 during the VIR Speedfest Presented by the Justin Bell GT Motorsports Experience.  Justin Bell is the Trans-Am Series' 2001 AmeriSuites Rookie-of-the-Year.  Bell won the final two races of the 2001 season in the Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette.  A class-winner at Le Mans and FIA GT2 Champion, Justin is the managing partner of the Justin Bell GT Motorsports Experience, a Chevrolet Driving school.

-cbw-

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Justin Bell