Motorock Trans-Am Series Ready To Rumble Through The Vineyards
SONOMA, Calif. (June 21, 2004) -- The Motorock Trans-Am Series is steeped in tradition; a tradition that began in 1966...as is NASCAR, which has sanctioned stock car racing since 1949. Last year, the two historic series came together at a venue equally important in both of their legacies--Infineon Raceway--and sparks flew.
This year's race in California's wine country will mark the third round of the 2004 Trans-Am season, and like last year, it promises to be showdown. The Trans-Am 100, part of the Dodge Save-Mart NASCAR Nextel Cup weekend, is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday June 25-27.
Last year showcased the talent of those doing double and even triple duty at Infineon. Who could forget Boris Said's first ever NASCAR Nextel Cup pole, ahead of Robby Gordon and Ron Fellows, making a trio of Trans-Am graduates leading the way? Said went on to compete in the Southwest Tour and the Trans-Am events, racking up a total of 360 total racing laps of the 1.968-mile road course--a distance of more than 700 miles. Gordon--who won in his sole Trans-Am start, in 1992 at Long Beach, driving a Roush Ford Mustang--topped off the weekend with his second career Nextel Cup victory.
Said, from Carlsbad, Calif., will return to Infineon this year and, as part of his doing the triple, he will drive the No. 33 New Century Mortgage/GE Access/ACS Express Ford Mustang in the Trans-Am 100. Said's car is part of a trio of Mustangs being fielded by Mike Davis' Huntington Beach, Calif. team. Davis, who will drive the No. 10 New Century Mortgage/GE Access/ACS Express car will welcome back his son, Brandon, to the No. 99 Spy Optics/ACS Express ride. The younger Davis, in his Trans-Am debut, beat out his dad at Portland, finishing a respectable 10th.
"I'm just really looking forward to racing this weekend at Infineon," said Said, who finished second in the Trans-Am race here last year. "I love the race track and I love racing. It is one of the most tiring weekends for me. I ran a 24-hour race in Germany a couple weeks ago and running those endurance events isn't nearly as tiring as doing the three races at Infineon. This year we're really focused on the Trans-Am race. I'd really like to win.
"Mike Davis' team does an unbelievable job with the manpower they have," added Said. "They have really become one of the top teams in Trans-Am."
During the recent Round 2 at Portland International Raceway Paul Gentilozzi (No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR) firmly cemented his place atop the point standings with his second-straight victory. However, that will all change at Infineon as Gentilozzi isn't planning to compete here.
"We're just having fun this season, and with everything I have going on business-wise with the Champ Car World Series, and my Champ Car and Trans-Am teams, I just don't have time to compete at Infineon," said Gentilozzi, who earned his 26th career victory at Portland, tying Tommy Kendall for second on the all-time Trans-Am win list. Gentilozzi and Kendall are just three triumphs behind the legendary Mark Donohue's record 29 wins. "We are planning to have the car there and we're hoping to run it with another driver."
With Gentilozzi out of the points race, another door immediately opens for 1978 Drivers' Champion Greg Pickett. A Bay Area resident, Pickett hails from nearby Alamo, Calif., where he runs Cytomax, a national sports/nutritional products company.
Pickett ran at the front for much of the Portland race before being sidelined with a wheel failure late in the event and finished seventh. Pickett kicked off the season at Long Beach with a runner-up effort and currently sits second in points. Pickett, who drives the No. 6 Cytomax Jaguar XKR, won here in 1978 en route to the championship and earned both of the Infineon victories in 1984 (from 1982-1986, Trans-Am held two races per year here). He has the most Infineon victories of any active Trans-Am driver.
"We're really excited about getting to Infineon," said Pickett, who is attempting this year to become the first Trans-Am driver to win a race in each of four decades of competition. "This new Rocketsports car has proven to be a more competitive package for us. We're delighted that we're going to be there again, during the Nextel Cup weekend with more than 100,000 fans. It will be another great venue. We'll have some family and friends around. Who knows? Maybe we can get lucky and get that fourth decade win.
"We race for fun and having our family and friends around us makes it more fun," concluded Pickett.
Then again, had it not been for cooling-system problems late in the race, the results at Portland might have been much different. Trans-Am's only four-time titleholder, Kendall, after a spirited battle with Gentilozzi, led late in the Portland event, but fell out on the final lap, handing the lead and the victory to Gentilozzi.
Kendall (No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR) who has 14 NASCAR Nextel Cup starts, has returned this year with his sights set on returning to his former glory. Beside his four Drivers' Championships (1990, '95, '96, '97), Kendall is the only driver to win three-straight Trans-Am titles, and he owns the record for the most victories in a season, 14 straight in 1997. Kendall also holds the Trans-Am pole record with 40 fast-qualifying efforts. In all, Kendall has 26 victories, 53 podiums, 63 top fives, 72 top tens and 23 fast race laps. Kendall has also competed in IROC competition six times.
Kendall has made three Infineon starts, with a best finish of second 1990. It remains one of only a handful of tracks on which Kendall has not recorded a victory in Trans-Am competition.
Kendall is competing this year with Jaguar's new stock-block, fuel-injected, four-valve, overhead-cam AJ-V8 engine. Kendall thinks the new engine package, which includes a 100-pound weight break, will really come into its own on Infineon's technical circuit.
"Of the places we've raced so far, Infineon is where the payoff should come with our new engine package," said Kendall. "Infineon is the venue on the schedule this year where the weight advantage will be most advantageous. I'm excited. Infineon lines up best of all of the tracks thus far."
Kendall also has roots at Infineon. Kendall grew up in California and learned to race at the track.
"Infineon is the track where I drove my very first race car," said Kendall, who has six Nextel Cup starts at Infineon. Kendall has 14 career starts in Nextel Cup competition. "I went through driving school here when I was 16. I didn't realize how lucky I was at the time, but Infineon is one of the tougher tracks around. To learn at that kind of place, and be comfortable--I'm thankful I didn't have to go back there later in my career and learn it. I learned everything for the first time there, which kind of wired it into me.
"I'm also looking forward to my first race where I won't be commentating," added Kendall, who also does color commentary for the Champ Car World Series broadcasts on Spike TV and HDNet. "All of my attention can focused on my racing."
But don't count out Tomy Drissi, who finished second at Portland in the No. 5 AVP--Only in Theaters Jaguar XKR, placing him fifth in points. Drissi, from Hollywood, Calif., is among the favorites here.
"This is going to be great, especially for our new sponsor," said Drissi, who, along with his racing duties, owns the motion picture advertising firm Drissi Advertising. "There will be more than 100,000 fans there. These fans really love watching the Trans-Am cars. I'm looking forward to that.
"I really matured last year as a driver, but I don't think the results showed it because we had a few mechanical problems," added Drissi. "That happens sometimes, and it's no one's fault, but you have to persevere. We have four races coming up. If we can finish in the top three in every race and keep our noses clean, maybe we can come out with the points lead."
Another favorite is 2003 Rookie of the Year Jorge Diaz, Jr. The young Puerto Rican driver finished third at Portland, marking his third podium. The result placed him and his No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR third in the Drivers' Championship.
Completing the field are: Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Chevrolet Corvette), Joey Scarallo (No. 06 Toyo Tires/ROH Wheels/Group A-Autotrend Chevrolet Corvette), John Baucom (No. 86 MAP Quality Engineering Ford Mustang), Tim Cowen (No. 75 Cowen Truck Line Ford Mustang), Marina Del Rey, Calif. native Ross Murray (No. 01 Greenberg Cheese Company Dodge Viper), Philip Simms (No. 24 Simms Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette), Max Lagod (No. 83 Hypermax Chevrolet Corvette), Moneca Kolvyn (No. 73 West Coast Hot Rods Chevrolet Monte Carlo here.
The Trans-Am 100 is scheduled to start at approximately 4:15 p.m., immediately following the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race.
What: The Trans-Am 100, Round 3 of the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series championship
When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday June 25-27, 2004
Race Day: Sunday, June 27, at approximately 4:15 p.m., immediately following the NASCAR Nextel Cup race
Distance: 51 laps/100.368 miles
Where: The race will be run on a 1.968-mile, 10-turn permanent road course <pre> Schedule:
NASCAR Nextel Cup Series - NNCS NASCAR AutoZone Southwest Series - NASS
Thursday, June 24, 2004 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. NASS Practice 11:20 a.m. - 1:20 p.m. NNCS Practice 1:30 p.m. NASS Qualifying 3:10 p.m. NNCA Qualifying (two laps all positions) 4:00-p.m. - 4:45 p.m. NASS Final Practice (45 minutes, time permitting)
Saturday, June 26, 2004 8:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. Trans-Am Practice 8:35 a.m. - 9:20 a.m. Legends Practice 9:30 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. NNCS Practice 10:25 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Trans-Am Practice 11:10 a.m.- 11:55 a.m. NNCS Final Practice 1:00 p.m. NASS Race 200 K (62 Laps) 3:30 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. Trans-Am Qualifying 4:30 p.m. Legends Race (25 Laps)
Sunday, June 27, 2004 8:30 a.m. Motorsports Ministries Chapel Service 10:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Trans-Am Warm-Up 11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Trans-Am Drivers' Autograph Session (location TBA) 1:00 p.m. NNCS Race 350 K (110 Laps, 216.5 miles) 4:00 p.m. Trans-Am Grid Cars 4:15 p.m. Trans-Am Race (51 Laps /100.368 miles)
</pre> Infineon Insights:
Greg Pickett has the most wins of any active Trans-Am driver in Infineon Raceway history. The winner of the 1978 race here in a Chevrolet Corvette and victor in the two 1984 in Roush Mercury Capri, is seeking his fourth Infineon victory. If he wins this weekend, he will tie Darin Brassfield on the all-time Infineon Trans-Am win list.
Pickett also has a shot at his fourth Infineon Trans-Am pole after taking the honor in 1978 (Chevrolet Corvette), in June 1983 (Chevrolet Corvette), and in 1991 (Chevrolet Camaro).
Four-time Trans-Am champion Tommy Kendall and 2002 titleholder Boris Said are seeking their first Trans-Am wins here, as well as their first pole positions.
Jaguar seeks its second consecutive Sears Point Trans-Am triumph, and second-straight pole. Scott Pruett guided an XKR to a victory from the pole in last year's race.
Rocketsports Racing is looking to add a fourth Sears Point Trans-Am win to tie Roush Racing and Gloy Racing on the all-time Infineon Trans-Am team win list.
A Chevrolet Corvette hasn't won here since 1989, while the Ford Mustang last won in 1995. The Dodge Viper has never won here.
Four marques (Chevrolet, Ford, Qvale, and Jaguar) have won the last four Trans-Am races here.
This year's race could continue a ten-race streak at Infineon of different fast qualifiers, dating back to 1987.
The Trans-Am series returned to Infineon Raceway (formerly Sears Point Raceway) last year after a one-year hiatus. 2001 marked the first year the Series competed here since 1995. That season started at Infineon, a race won by Dorsey Schroeder in a Gloy Racing Ford Mustang. In 2001, Brian Simo won from the pole in a Gloy Racing Qvale Mangusta; Boris Said set fastest race lap in that race in a Panoz Esperante. The Series did not compete at Infineon in 2002 but again raced at Sears Point in 2003 as Scott Pruett won the pole, set the fastest race lap and won in a Rocketsports Jaguar XKR.
The Trans-Am Series first appeared at Infineon in 1969, with Mark Donohue (Penske Chevrolet Camaro) winning and Elliott Forbes-Robinson (Porsche 911) taking Under 2-Liter honors. The Series did not return until 1978, when Greg Pickett, competing in Category II, won overall and Gene Bothello won Category I as Corvettes swept the top spots in both classes.
The Series returned to Infineon in 1981 and appeared in every season thereafter through 1993. In fact, the circuit hosted two Trans-Am races per season from 1982 through 1986. After a break in 1994, the Series returned in 1995.
The Series has held 18 races at Infineon, including two-class events in 1969 (Over and Under 2 Liter) and 1978 (Category II and Category I) producing a total of 14 race winners.
Darin Brassfield leads in Infineon Trans-Am wins with four. Greg Pickett and Willy T. Ribbs are tied with three wins apiece. Wally Dallenbach, Jr., Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Tom Gloy, and Scott Pruett have two wins each.
The 16-race Trans-Am "modern era" (1981-2003) at Infineon has produced 12 race winners including six multiple-time race winners.
Darin Brassfield won four consecutive Trans-Am races here (1989-90-91-92) and tied the all-time Trans-Am record of four consecutive wins at the same venue held by Mark Donohue at St. Jovite (1968-69-70-71). McCall Racing's Scott Sharp broke Brassfield's record when Brassfield didn't enter the 1993 event.
Roush Racing and Gloy Racing lead entrants in Infineon Trans-Am wins with four apiece. Roush won three consecutive races: two in 1984, one each in 1985 and 1987. Gloy Racing's four wins came in October, 1981 and October, 1982 plus 1995 and 2001 wins. Two-race consecutive win streaks have been scored by DeAtley Racing (1983), Protofab Racing (1986), Rocketsports Racing (1990-1991), and Gloy (1995, 2001).
Infineon has been the land of the "General" as GM has 14 wins to Ford's seven. Chevrolet's Camaro has eight victories, while the Corvette has three (the most recent by Darin Brassfield in 1989). The Bowtie Brigade leads the marques with 11 wins. Oldsmobile's Cutlass won two consecutive races here in 1990 and 1991, prior to the 1992 and 1993 Chevrolet Camaro wins. A Buick Regal won in 1985.
Ford Mustangs have won three times at Infineon, with all three wins scored by Tom Gloy in 1981, October of 1982, and 1995. Mercury Capris won twice in 1984 and once in 1985, while a Merkur XR4Ti driven by Scott Pruett scored the most recent Mercury Infineon Trans-Am win in 1987.
The "modern era" (1981-2003) Infineon period has produced an average margin of victory of 7.139 seconds. Seven of the last 11 races have produced victory margins of less than 2.1 seconds with five of the 11 under 0.3 of a second.
Brassfield's 11.229-second victory margin in 1991 ended a streak of five consecutive margins of under two seconds here.
Brassfield's 1989 win by 0.171 of second is the record.
Only seven wins here have come from pole, with Pruett's 2003 triumph the most recent.
The Infineon Trans-Am record for lowest starting position for a race winner is held by Darin Brassfield. He won from ninth in 1992. The average starting position for the 1981-2003 race winners is 2.67.
Greg Pickett has three Infineon poles (1978 Category II, 1983, and 1991) in three decades.
The record for lead-lap finishers at Infineon, 16, was set in 1987 and 2001.
Seventeen races here have had 10 or more lead-lap finishers including the 2003 race with 10. The 1981-2003 average is 10.90 per race. The last 12 races have averaged 12.5 lead-lap finishers.