GENTILOZZI ON POLE FOR SEBRING TRANS-AM SERIES FINALE
SEBRING, Fla. (October 16) - Paul Gentilozzi took one more step toward securing his second BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series Drivers' Championship, qualifying his No. 1 Johnson Controls/HomeLink Ford Mustang Cobra on the pole for the 1999 season finale at the 3.7-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway. Gentilozzi, of Lansing, Mich., posted a top time of 2:05.445 (106.182 mph) to score his fourth pole of the season and gain an additional point in his now eight-point margin over rival Brian Simo, 307 to 299. "We did what we needed to do in taking the pole," said Gentilozzi. "Brian and I played a little cat and mouse game at the beginning of the session, and then I knew something was wrong with his car. I got a clean lap and then just drove around him. Starting on the pole allows you to control the pace of the race, and for two equal cars here, it is extremely difficult to pass. You can suck it up on the back straightaway and try, but I've got a real good car on the straightaway. It should be a lot of fun in the race." Qualifying second to start along side Gentilozzi was G.J. Mennen, in the No. 4 Smith Eye Wear Mustang Cobra, Mennen's best career Trans-Am Series start and fourth Fast Five Qualifying effort of the season. Mennen, who posted a qualifying time of 2:06.151 (105.587 mph), leads the Red Line Oil Rookie of the Year standings heading into the finale, 155 to 150 over Tomy Drissi, driver of the No. 15 Drissi Advertising Mustang Cobra. Chris Neville, in the No. 88 Tomy Bahama Mustang Cobra, qualified third, and Simo, in the No. 2 Valvoline Mustang Cobra, qualified fourth. "There'll be no strategy here--we've got one choice and that's to run as hard as we can," said Simo. "I have two teammates and maybe they can help me, but it would be nice if the whole field stepped in up to help me out with Paul--but that hasn't happened all year. We lost something in the drivetrain on the second lap, and we'll figure out what was wrong and get it fixed for the race." Making his first career Fast Five Qualifying appearance was Lou Gigliotti, who qualified fifth in his No. 28 LG Motorsports/G2 Performance Chevrolet Corvette. The 27-lap, 99.9-mile BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series finale takes the green flag at 2:00 p.m. EDT, and will be televised live on The Speedvision Network. "Every lap here is like greeting an old friend," added Gentilozzi. "Sebring is a fantastic and diverse track because it's so demanding on the driver. It's very challenging with a lot of character like Mosport or Laguna Seca. It doesn't give you anything; you can't be careless--you've got to be careful. With 42 cars traffic can be a real problem, but I figured I've got at least 100 hours of traffic driving around here, so I'm pretty familiar with the track. You've got to pick your spot to pass--if you stick your nose out, you're liable to lose it." Simo's teammate Boris Said, driving the No. 7 RaceWerX/MOMO Design Mustang Cobra, qualified seventh, while Butch Leitzinger, making his Trans-Am Series debut in the No. 6 Clover Enterprises Chevrolet Camaro, had mechanical troubles and never made the qualifying session.
SEBRING, Fla. - Lineup for Sunday's 27-lap, 99.9-mile BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series season finale at Sebring International Raceway, with starting position, car number in parenthesis, driver, hometown, car, time and speed in miles-per-hour.
1. (1), Paul Gentilozzi, Lansing, Mich., Ford Mustang Cobra, 2:05.445, 106.182. 2. (4), G.J. Mennen, Austin, Texas, Ford Mustang Cobra, 2:06.151, 105.587. 3. (88), Chris Neville, Scottsdale, Ariz., Ford Mustang Cobra, 2:06.312, 105.453. 4. (2), Brian Simo, Carlsbad, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 2:06.444, 105.343. 5. (28), Lou Gigliotti, Garland, Texas, Chevrolet Corvette, 2:06.812, 105.037. 6. (66), Leighton Reese, Minnetonka, Minn., Pontiac Grand Prix, 2:06.936, 104.934. 7. (7), Boris Said, Carlsbad, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 2:07.125, 104.778. 8. (12), Michael Lewis, San Diego, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 2:07.371, 104.576. 9. (49), Randy Ruhlman, Greensboro, N.C., Ford Mustang Cobra, 2:07.507, 104.464. 10. (23), Bob Ruman, Munroe Falls, Ohio, Chevrolet Camaro, 2:07.996, 104.065. 11. (83), Max Lagod, Barrington, Ill., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:08.099, 103.982. 12. (10), Don Sak, West Bloomfield, Mich., Oldsmobile Cutlass, 2:09.377, 102.954. 13. (40), Steve Pelke, Lansing, Ill., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:09.665, 102.726. 14. (59), Simon Gregg, Jacksonville, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:10.052, 102.420. 15. (15), Tomy Drissi, Hollywood, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 2:10.734, 101.886. 16. (11), Mike Davis, Huntington Beach, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 2:11.268, 101.471. 17. (8), Tom Coleman, Asheville, N.C., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:11.730, 101.115. 18. (39), Craig Shafer, Somerset, Pa., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:12.238, 100.727. 19. (47), Bill Bentley, Longwood, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:13.192, 100.006. 20. (9), Gary Johnson, Knoxville, Tenn., Ford Mustang Cobra, 2:14.553, 98.994. 21. (35), Kerry Alexander, Indianapolis, Ind., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:17.441, 96.914. 22. (13), C. David Seuss, Charlestown, Mass., Oldsmobile Cutlass, 2:17.814, 96.652. 23. (82), Dick Greer, Columbus, Ohio, Chevrolet Corvette, 2:17.972, 96.541. 24. (08), Michael Cohen, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:18.176, 96.398. 25. (31), Don Meluzio, York, Pa., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:18.554, 96.135. 26. (18), Jon Leavy, Miami, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:18.699, 96.035. 27. (17), Bill Eagle, Tampa, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:18.761, 95.992. 28. (92), Mike Farmer, Rockford, Mich., Ford Mustang Cobra, 2:19.001, 95.826. 29. (30), Gary Smith, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:19.499, 95.484. 30. (33), Henry Gaudens, Tampa, Fla., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:19.902, 95.209. 31. (26), John Macaluso, Winterhaven, Texas, Chevrolet Camaro, 2:20.155, 95.037. 32. (42), James Briody, Cherry Hill, N.J., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:21.179, 94.348. 33. (64), Johnny W. Miller IV, Johnson City, Tenn., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:22.265, 93.628. 34. (16), Frank Cioppettini, Far Hills, N.J., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:25.522, 91.532. 35. (86), Bob McGrew, Cornelius, N.C., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:26.113, 91.162. 36. (22), Joe Freda, Auburn, Ala., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:27.754, 90.149. 37. (38), Dan Furey, Columbus, Ohio, Chevrolet Corvette, 2:33.400, 86.831. 38. (6), Butch Leitzinger, State College, Pa., Chevrolet Camaro, no time. 39. (14), Kenny Bupp, Ft. Laudersdale, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, no time. 40. (36), Claudio Burtin, Cartersville, Ga., Ford Mustang Cobra, no time. 41. (70), Peter Shea, Irvine, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, no time. 42. (81), Kent Neilson, Edmonton, Alberta, Can., Chevrolet Camaro, no time.