Pickett Nips Drissi in Trans-Am Practice at Portland International Raceway

PORTLAND, Ore. (June 12, 2009) -- Greg Pickett, of Benicia, Calif., returned to Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am competition after a brief three-race break and promptly outpaced Championship point leader Tomy Drissi, of Los Angeles, by a narrow 0.081-second during today's Round Five practice, as part of the Fluge Global Adventures Rose Cup Classic at Portland International Raceway.

Driving the No. 6 Muscle Milk Jaguar XKR, Pickett turned a fast lap of 1:11.861 (98.540 mph). Pickett and Drissi, spent much of the session following one another around the 12-turn, 1.967-mile road course. And, in doing so, they learned as much about each other's strengths on track as they learned about their own car's strengths.

"Tomy was surprised," Pickett said of Drissi's comments following the session. "Because he is 100 pounds lighter than I am, he said, 'around the three-four-five complex, you were really impressive, you were faster. I thought that with 100 pounds less that I'd really have an advantage there.'

"We tried a different set of shocks today than we did yesterday -- to our detriment. They weren't quite as good so we are going to go back to what he had. I lacked a little bit of grip everywhere. I think Tomy was a little impressed [with my braking]. I worked very hard on brakes and on balancing the brakes. So, he was surprised at how good I was under braking -- even being 100 pounds heavier. He said, 'I couldn't touch you under brakes.' I've got a little more top end speed [than he does]. What impresses me about Tomy is he comes off corners really well. He is hooked up. And, that is critical here."

"I was behind him [Pickett] and he didn't pull over," Drissi said. "Some guys will just pull over and not show you what they've got. But, he showed me what he had. I stayed with him for a few laps and then I came in and made a little change. And, like clockwork, I went out down the front straight and he came right behind me. I was going to pull over and I said, 'You know what, he showed me his stuff.' So, I showed him my stuff. It's just amazing how we are running two different configurations, but the times are so close. I know where he has me and I know where I have him. It is going to be very interesting. Trans-Am racing is great. It is flat out -- just enough tire, just enough fuel, just enough brakes, and just enough driver. Whoever comes out in the end -- wins!"

Pickett's lap time was 1.3 seconds faster than the current Trans-Am qualifying lap record of 1:13.189 (96.752 mph) set by Klaus Graf (2005) in the same car. It should be noted that Graf's record-setting lap was set on BF Goodrich tires, while Pickett is running Goodyear tires.

Pickett not only looks to set a new qualifying lap record this weekend, but he also hopes to capture his second win of the season. His first win came in Round One at Road Atlanta.

Drissi turned a lap time of 1:11.942 (98.429 mph) in the No. 5 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Jaguar XKR. The Championship point leader is poised to get his first win of the season after coming off of back-to-back second-place finishes at Mosport and Mid-Ohio. Drissi is a former pole winner at Portland. In 2004, he started from the pole and finished second, which is his best finish at PIR.

Portland resident Todd Harris was third fastest in the No. 24 Team Cytosport/Pro Drive Jaguar XKR. Harris, a Trans-Am rookie, used his home track knowledge to turn a lap of 1:13.127 (96.834 mph).

Simon Gregg, of Ponte Verda Beach, Fla., (1:14.135, 95.517 mph) and rookie Dan Ramoutarsingh (1:14.219, 95.409 mph), of LaRomain, Trinidad, were fourth and fifth quick, respectively.

Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am series practice continues at 9:05 a.m. (PDT) Saturday, June 13, with qualifying set for 3:05 p.m. later in the day. The Round Five green flag will wave at 2:55 p.m., Sunday, June 14. For the latest Trans-Am news and results, visit www.sccatrans-am.com.

-credit: scca pro racing