Trans-Am Series heads north of the border for round 2 at Mosport. CLEARWATER, Fla. (May 14, 2002) -- Merely one of the 12 rounds of the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup is in the books, and already fans are wondering what the ...
Trans-Am Series heads north of the border for round 2 at Mosport.
CLEARWATER, Fla. (May 14, 2002) -- Merely one of the 12 rounds of the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup is in the books, and already fans are wondering what the Series will do for an encore.
The Trans-Am, North America's longest-running road racing championship, launched its 37th campaign in scintillating fashion at last month's Johnson Controls 100 on the streets of Long Beach, Calif. The season opener came down to a breathtaking battle which saw Paul Gentilozzi, Boris Said and Justin Bell each hold the lead for a portion of the last lap before Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls/Microchip/Matrix One/Futaba Jaguar XKR), the three-time and defending Trans-Am Series champion, finally edged clear for his 24th career race victory.
The triumph, Gentilozzi's fourth at Long Beach, gave him the early lead in his bid for a fourth Trans-Am Series championship, which would tie him with Tommy Kendall (1990, '95, '96 and '97) for the most in series history. Gentilozzi's previous titles came in 1998, '99 and last year.
Gentilozzi, Said and Bell are among the most prominent entries as the series prepares for Round 2, the Victoria Day Trans-Am, on Sunday, May 19 at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada (1 p.m. ET, live, SPEED Channel).
With 34 points, Gentilozzi holds a five-point championship advantage over Said (#33 Applied Computer Solutions Panoz Esperante), who stands second at 29. Johnny Miller (#64 Automation Direct/Eaton/Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR) is four points further back with 25, followed by Bob Ruman (#23 Cenweld Corp./McNichols Co. Chevrolet Corvette), with 21 points, and Randy Ruhlman (#49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette), with 20.
Bell (#40 XtremeLens/Starcashonline Chevrolet Corvette), the 2001 AmeriSuites Rookie of the Year who spun off course following an incident with Said in the final two turns at Long Beach, stands seventh in the championship with 18 points, one behind Tomy Drissi (Rocketsports Racing Jaguar XKR), who is sixth with 19.
Gentilozzi comes to Mosport as the defending race and pole winner, having claimed his first of a series-high four 2001 victories at the 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course last May. He also won at Mosport in 1996 and earned the pole there in 2000.
Gentilozzi's victory from the pole at Long Beach allowed him to extend Trans-Am records for race starts (174), top-three finishes (56), top-five finishes (87), top-10 finishes (115), laps led (1,400), fastest race laps (31), lead lap finishes (113) and Fast Five qualifying efforts (104). He has now finished among the top-five drivers in exactly half (87) of his 174 career Trans-Am starts.
Said's runner-up result was his best since winning the 2001 season opener at Sebring, and the 16th podium result of his career. Miller, meanwhile, logged his best performance since taking runner-up honors at Road America last year, and finished on the podium for the 17th time in his nine-year career.
Ruman's fifth-place finish at Long Beach was his third top-five effort in seven years of Trans-Am competition. Oddly, one of the others also came at Long Beach, a third-place performance in 2000.
Other strong candidates for victory at Mosport include Michael Lewis (#12 AmeriSuites Jaguar XKR), Lou Gigliotti (#28 LG Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette), Tony Ave (#53 LAC Motorsports Panoz Esperante), Stu Hayner (#02 Revolution Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette) and Butch Leitzinger (#88 Tommy Bahama Chevrolet Corvette).
Following Sunday's second round at Mosport, the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup travels immediately to Lakeville, Conn. for Round 3, the Mohegun Sun Presents the Lime Rock Park Grand Prix on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. The race will be broadcast live on Speed Channel, beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
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