Miller wins at San Diego, Simo takes championship

San Diego, Calif. -- Johnny Miller ( ...

San Diego, Calif. -- Johnny Miller (#64 Automationdirect.com UPS Chevrolet Corvette) held off Boris Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions Ford Mustang Cobra) to pick up his first career victory in the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series this afternoon at the San Diego Grand Prix. The 60 lap race was competed over the 1.65-mile temporary road course at the Naval Training Center on Point Loma.

Brian Simo (#88 Tommy Bahama Qvale Mangusta) finished third and also claimed the overall BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series Drivers Championship for the 2000 season. Paul Gentilozzi (#1 Johnson Controls HomeLink Jaguar XKR), who had led the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series Drivers Championship since winning at Road America, did not finish after suffering a broken oil pump shaft.

Miller, who started the afternoon third on the grid, ran a close second behind Simo for the first 46 laps of the race. Midway through lap 47, Miller managed to pass Simo and held onto the lead for the final 14 laps to take the win. With the win, Miller made his third podium appearance this season and his 11th career podium finish.

"The first win is as much a relief as it is exciting," said Miller. "To not have won the race today would not have justified the year. To finally win is a very big thing, it couldn't get any better than this. Its been a very long year. I thought that the first win would happen several times. But today, it finally happend. Boris pushed me hard at the end and I had to get around a lot of traffic, but all in all it was a very clean race."

"This is a championship for the team," said Simo. "They put it all together. I came late in the off-season to the team and they are great because a championship goes to the team that makes the least mistakes. The car was awesome today and a pleasure to drive. I knew Gentilozzi was out and then my engine started to miss. It got worse and worse and I began to slow down. I was worried, but I decided to keep pushing hard because I didn't know where I had to finish."

"I made a run at Miller near the end and got close," said Said. "But I made a couple of mistakes braking and I didn't have the car to take him. Sometimes it is better to just finish and today, I had a second place car.

"I'm disappointed, but more so for the team," said Gentilozzi. "I told them on the radio after we broke that it was just one of those things that no one can control. I congratulate Brian and his team. Brian has worked hard for this and he has managed to bring all the necessary elements together for a championship effort. He should be proud of his accomplishment."

The top-ten in the Drivers' Championship are: Simo, 261; Gentilozzi, 249; Jeff Altenburg, 197; Leighton Reese, 190, Chris Neville, 180; Tomy Drissi, 170; Willy T. Ribbs, 153; Miller, 152; Jack Willes, 142; Simon Gregg, 137.

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Series TRANSAM