Drissi Puts 'Ice Age' Jaguar in Victory Circle at Portland
PORTLAND, Ore. (June 14, 2009) -- Tomy Drissi, of Los Angeles, recorded his second-career Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series win Sunday in the Fluge Global Adventures Rose Cup Classic at Portland International Raceway. Todd Harris, of Portland, Ore., and Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., completed the podium.
Drissi, who started from the pole in the No. 5 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Jaguar XKR, got a great start and held the lead heading into Turn One -- a position he held for the first 16 laps before Greg Pickett, of Benicia, Calif., passed him in Turn One. At that point, it looked like Pickett's No. 6 Muscle Milk Jaguar XKR was a bit stronger than Drissi's machine as Pickett began to put some distance between himself and Drissi over the next 12 laps.
But, just as Pickett continued to increase his lead, his Jaguar XKR lost a cylinder. It did not take long for Drissi to catch the former Trans-Am series Champion. On lap 28, Drissi got a good run on Pickett coming out of the last corner heading down the front straight and passed him in Turn One. From there, Drissi cruised to a 47.996-second victory over the local driver Harris, while Pickett tried to nurse his No. 6 machine to a potential second-place finish before blowing his motor on the front straight two laps shy of the end (46 laps, 90.482 miles).
"I had a very good start," Drissi said. "Pickett and I were so close all weekend long. It was just amazing how in some places he was quicker and, at others, I was quicker. He raced me really clean. There were a couple of times where he showed me the door. I did not get a very good run off the last corner. He was just waiting. The third or fourth time he showed me the door, I thought let's just pace him.
"I knew he wouldn't run away. I knew we had very equal cars. I just thought to myself, 'you know what, let's do this for 10 laps and see what he's got in 15 laps.' I think there would have been a real good race the last six or seven laps. That is what we were planning on. We were going to go after him. But, he's an old fox, so he was probably pacing too. The all of a sudden something went wrong [with Pickett's car]. I noticed a little puff of smoke. I wondered if he had a problem. I wished he had finished. I felt bad for him because he is such a competitor."
"We were very confident about today," said Pickett, who set the fast lap of the race with a 1:11.965 (98.397 mph). "We knew that the Rocketsports car, which can run about 100 pounds lighter than we can with the 335, [was good]. I just wanted to settle in and see what he had for pace. Then, I decided his pace just wasn't enough so I just went by -- easily. I was leading easily. I was controlling a nice little pace between myself and Tomy. It [the race] would have finished just like that, honestly.
"And, then we dropped a cylinder. It just went off song a little bit. I looked at all the gauges and they were all great. I didn't smell anything. I probably broke a valve spring -- maybe. It was a brand new motor that we got from Jack [Roush]. It had good power. I was real happy with the power all weekend. We continued to run a bunch of 14s and 15s on seven cylinders, which I was really proud of. That's what tells me that we had enough car to go the whole way if our motor would have stayed okay. That valve probably dropped into a cylinder, broke a piston and that was what all the smoke was about. It was pretty spectacular I guess. It was really too bad.
"I am very happy for Drissi. He is a good buddy of mine. I've raced him a long time. I'm very pleased for him. I am also happy for my second place guy -- Todd Harris. He is a great young man from up here. Don't be surprised if he is in one of our cars again because I am very impressed with him."
Harris, who started third in the No. 24 Team Cytosport/Pro Drive Jaguar XKR, put on an impressive drive in front of his hometown crowd by recording his first career Trans-Am podium in his first-ever Trans-Am race.
"My race, quite frankly, was a conservative race," Harris said. "I started third and then Ave jumped up to third. I just settled in and thought I'd watch these front three. These guys are pros. They've been doing this a long time. I've been racing a long time, but not in Trans-Am. I wanted to see how it was done. They put on a pretty good show.
"Tony finally had a little miscue with the spin and then he had a car that was not working all that well. So, I didn't have to peddle that hard. From that point, I just sat in third and thought, 'hey we'll just bring it home in third and just see who it was going to be on the top rung -- Tomy or Greg.' Who knows, those guys like to battle it out. There was a chance that we could have been at the front had it got into a real shootout. But, it was too bad that Greg's motor blew up. Thanks to Greg for putting me in the Muscle Milk car. It was a real treat and I look forward to maybe doing it again."
Ave, who has been fast all year, made a switch this weekend from driving a Ford Mustang (which he drove in the first four races) to driving the No. 10 McMahon Group/Lamers Motor Racing Chevrolet Corvette. And, the switch netted him a solid third place finish today.
"This car was new; we hadn't run it before," Ave said of his new Corvette. "We came out here and did not have a chance to test. It was kind of a last minute thing. We weren't prepared enough. We just weren't fast enough. We'd been the fastest car all year with the Mustang that we had.
"When the race started, I wanted to try to get the lead right away and see if I could hold everybody off because I had no idea what I had. So, I got by Todd [Harris] and then I was trying to deal with the two guys [Drissi and Pickett] in front of me. After two laps I could tell we just weren't going to be fast enough. The car was just way too loose. When it starts out loose, it is going to be a long day.
"Basically, I was going to lap somebody and they did not see me. I spun out to miss them and that is how Todd got by. And, we were just surviving after that. We just were not fast enough. He had a big enough lead that I would have had to damage my stuff to catch him. So, I was just trying to cruise because if a caution came out, I would have had better stuff for a run at the end. I figured we'd be fourth if nothing happened. That is where we would have ended up had Greg not blown up. It was just disappointing because we've been fast all year. We just weren't competitive here."
Simon Gregg, of Ponte Verda Beach, Fla., who started fifth, brought his No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette home in fourth. Despite blowing his motor, Pickett still finished fifth.
Glen Jung, of Osteen, Fla., drove his No. 77 Mazdaspeed/Goodyear Mazda RX-7 to a career-best sixth-place finish was the Sunoco Hard Charger and the Flowmaster Star of the Race.
Rookie Nick Fluge, of Portland, Ore., rookie Elmer Shannon, of San Francisco, Jerry Kinn, of Anchorage, Alaska, and rookie Tim Brown completed the top 10.
Following the Fluge Global Adventures Rose Cup Classic, Drissi extended his Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series point lead to 18, with 143 points, followed by Ave (125), Gregg (91), Jung (87) and rookie Daniel Ramoutarsingh (71).
The Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series next heads to Watkins Glen International for Round Six July 11-12.
-credit: scca pro racing