Road Atlanta: BF Goodrich preview

Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center - Road Atlanta is considered one of North America's best and most popular road courses among competitors and racing fans. Measuring 2.54 miles long with 12 turns, Road Atlanta is a very fast circuit (average speed...

Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center - Road Atlanta is considered one of North America's best and most popular road courses among competitors and racing fans. Measuring 2.54 miles long with 12 turns, Road Atlanta is a very fast circuit (average speed over 108 mph) with two long straights and elevation changes that lead to blind brows and some fast corners. It is a momentum track, which requires a good rhythm to go fast. Having hosted the Trans-Am Series 11 times, but not since 1999, this year's event should be thrilling and challenging for all the Trans-Am drivers.

Tire Compound Selection Could Be Varied at Road Atlanta - Due to the elevation changes, fast speeds and ambient temperature at Road Atlanta, compound selection becomes important to achieve maximum tire performance. Even though Trans-Am has not raced at Road Atlanta in three years, the track and its characteristics are similar to Mosport, where Trans-Am has raced for 23 years. Therefore, teams might try a variety of compound combinations as has been evident in the past at races at Mosport.

"Even though I mandated the harder (#75) compound of our BFGoodrich® g-ForceTM T/A® radial the last time we raced at Road Atlanta, this year I have decided to leave the compound selection open for Trans-Am teams," said BFGoodrich Tires lead engineer Gary Blalock. "In 1999, the race was held in July with ambient temperatures reaching well over 100 degrees, so harder tires were needed and they worked very well. With the race this year in mid-October, such elevated temperatures should not be present; therefore mandating the harder compound is not necessary. That said, I do think teams may want to protect their left side. The first few practices will be key for teams to decide what combinations of compounds if any they may want to run."

BFGoodrich® Tires Cup Quest Nears Finale - Every Trans-Am drivers competes to win races, but they also race for a larger goal, to win the season-ending BFGoodrich® Tires Cup, awarded annually to the series driver's champion. In 2002, the battle has narrowed to two talented and seasoned veterans who have fought hard all season, Boris Said and Paul Gentilozzi.

Gentilozzi is the defending BFGoodrich® Tires Cup Champion and is seeking his third BFGoodrich® Tires Cup and fourth Trans-Am Series Championship. Said, meanwhile, wants to take his Panoz Esperante to the championship circle after a long and successful racing career but one without a championship.

"The battle this year for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup has been spectacular," said Herb Johnson, Director of Motorsports for BFGoodrich® Tires. "Boris, Paul and hot-footed rookie Butch Leitzinger have each been dominating during the season and we would be proud to call any one of them our champion. The fans this weekend at Road Atlanta and those at the season finale at Virginia International Raceway are in for a treat as these drivers shoot it out for the right to call themselves the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup Champion."

After Round Ten of the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup, the spread separating Said and Gentilozzi is 58 points with two races left in the season. If Said leaves Road Atlanta with a 34-point lead, he would mathematically clinch the championship. Said currently has 296 points while Gentilozzi has 238 points. Rounding out the top five are Butch Leitzinger with 232 points, Johnny Miller with 215 points and Stu Hayner with 205 points.

Last Time at Road Atlanta - In 1999, Chris Neville started from the outside pole and took advantage of the pole-sitter, Brian Simo's gearbox problems, to win his first Trans-Am Series victory. Johnny Miller finished second and Michael Lewis followed in third. Other current Trans-Am drivers Randy Ruhlman, Simon Gregg and Don Sak finished in the top ten at Road Atlanta in 1999.

Tires Make the Difference - Since becoming the tire of choice for the Trans-Am Series in 1998, the BFGoodrich® g-ForceTM T/A® has been credited with dramatically changing the complexion of the series. Trans-Am races used to be characterized by a sprint for position at the beginning, and then a parade in the middle so drivers could save their tires for the final dash to the finish. Now drivers can go flat-out from flag to flag, which has produced exciting races over the past five years.

Speed Channel to Televise Trans-Am - The Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich* Tires Cup race from Road Atlanta will be broadcast tape-delayed on October 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET, on Speed Channel.

BFGoodrich® Tires Contingency Award - BFGoodrich® Tires has established a contingency award for the top 10 finishers in each race this season. The top five finishers will receive two tires and the finishers from sixth through tenth will receive one tire.

BFGoodrich® Tires "Take Control" Award - BFGoodrich® Tires will sponsor the BFGoodrich® Tires "Take Control" Award, an award that will be given to the driver who leads the most laps in each Trans-Am race. In the event of a tie, the driver with the highest finishing position will receive the award. For their efforts, the driver will receive a free set of BFGoodrich* g-Force T/A* radials.

-bfg-

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Boris Said , Brian Simo , Johnny Miller , Randy Ruhlman , Don Sak , Michael Lewis , Simon Gregg , Stu Hayner