GENTILOZZI PERFECT AT SEBRING TO TAKE THE WIN AND THE CHAMPIONSHIP
SEBRING, Fla. (October 17) - Paul Gentilozzi completed a perfect weekend with a wire-to-wire win at Sebring International Raceway, scoring his sixth BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series victory of the season to earn his second-straight Drivers' Championship and take home the BFGoodrich Tires Drivers' Cup. Gentilozzi, driving the No. 1 Johnson Controls/HomeLink Ford Mustang Cobra, started the 27-lap, 99.9-mile race from the pole and was never seriously challenged on the 3.7-mile, 17-turn Sebring circuit, finishing the 1:08:13.610 race a comfortable 4.585 seconds ahead of Brian Simo. "We did what we came here to do," said Gentilozzi. "We had the pole, led every lap and won the race and the Championship. This second Championship is even more special, more important because it's a validation of all the hard work and accomplishments over the years. I've been racing since 1966 and asked a lot of my family and friends, and I share this with them. Brian Simo is a winner and a champion in my mind any day. He's a smart, tough, talented driver who is a great competitor and friend. We push each other to strive to be better and I think it shows in our great racing this season." Finishing third after starting seventh was Boris Said, in the No. 7 RaceWerX/MOMO Design Mustang Cobra, followed by Chris Neville, in the No. 88 Tommy Bahama Mustang Cobra, and Leighton Reese, in the No. 66 Banner Engineering/Phillips 66 Pontiac Grand Prix. "I was looking forward to coming back to the Trans-Am - it's been three years since I've race in the series and it's great fun," said Said. "I'm sorry I couldn't help Brian, and I chased both Brian and Paul as hard as I could, but getting into the grass a couple of times didn't help. We just came up a little bit short today." Two laps into the race, a crash involving the No. 17 Pro-Motion Zone Chevrolet Camaro of Bill Eagle brought out the only caution. When the field went green five laps later, Said capitalized on the restart to advance to third, holding the position to the end while Simo, in the No. 2 Valvoline Mustang Cobra, circulated in second, never able to mount a charge on leader Gentilozzi. "Bringing in Boris (Said) was part of our conspiracy against Paul (Gentilozzi), but it just didn't work out the way we planned," said Simo. "We didn't get the pole and we struggled with the car all weekend." Behind the battle at the front, Johnny Miller IV, in the No. 64 Automationdirect.com Corvette, and Butch Leitzinger, in the No. 6 Clover Enterprises Camaro, put on spectacular driving displays as they worked their way through the field from their respective 32nd and 34th-place starts. By lap 14 Miller IV had secured fourth, but four laps later he was in the pits, suffering a mechanical DNF to finish his day in 34th. Leitzinger advanced to fifth place on lap 18, but a late-race spin dropped him two positions to his seventh-place finish. Second-place qualifier G.J. Mennen, in the No. 4 Smith Eye Wear Mustang Cobra, lead the Red Line Oil Rookie of the Year standings going into the season-ending race, but a mid-race transmission problem brought him into the pits on lap 15, and by the time he was able to return to the action on lap 22, Tomy Drissi, in the No. 15 Drissi Advertising Mustang Cobra, had too great an advantage and earned the 1999 Red Line Oil Rookie of the Year title with his 13th-place finish. "Racing brings every emotion out of you," said Drissi. "You've got to find the happy medium between driving too hard and wearing out your car and keeping on the edge. I really feel bad for G.J. (Mennen), but I'll take it. He had some tough luck today, but I've had my share of bad luck this season too." With the victory, Gentilozzi finished the season with 339 points, 13 points over runner-up Simo. Neville finished the year third with 283, followed by Michael Lewis, 266; Johnny Miller, 252; Randy Ruhlman, 228; Bob Ruman, 186; Simon Gregg, 185; and Drissi, 181.
SEBRING, Fla. - Results from Sunday's 27-lap, 99.9-mile season finale BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series race at Sebring International Raceway, with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out.
1. (1), Paul Gentilozzi, Lansing, Mich., Ford Mustang Cobra, 27. 2. (4), Brian Simo, Carlsbad, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 27. 3. (7), Boris Said, Carlsbad, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobrae, 27. 4. (3), Chris Neville, Scottsdale, Ariz., Ford Mustang Cobra, 27. 5. (6), Leighton Reese, Minnetonka, Minn., Pontiac Grand Prix, 27. 6. (10), Bob Ruman, Munroe Falls, Ohio, Chevrolet Camaro, 27. 7. (34), Butch Leitzinger, State College, Pa., Chevrolet Camaro, 27. 8. (9), Randy Ruhlman, Greensboro, N.C., Ford Mustang Cobra, 27. 9. (13), Simon Gregg, Jacksonville, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 27. 10. (16), Tom Coleman, Asheville, N.C., Chevrolet Camaro, 27. 11. (25), Jon Leavy, Miami, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 27. 12. (33), Steve Pelke, Lansing, Ill., Chevrolet Camaro, 26. 13. (14), Tomy Drissi, Hollywood, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 26. 14. (17), Craig Shafer, Somerset, Pa., Chevrolet Camaro, 26. 15. (20), Kerry Alexander, Indianapolis, Ind., Chevrolet Camaro, 26. 16. (8), Michael Lewis, San Diego, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 26. 17. (22), Dick Greer, Columbus, Ohio, Chevrolet Corvette, 26. 18. (35), Kent Neilson, Edmonton, Alberta Canada, Chevrolet Camaro, 26. 19. (18), Bill Bentley, Longwood, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 26. 20. (28), Gary Smith, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 25. 21. (30), John Macaluso, Winterhaven, Texas, Chevrolet Camaro, 25. 22. (31), James Briody, Cherry Hill, N.J., Chevrolet Camaro, 25. 23. (23), Michael Cohen, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 25. 24. (29), Henry Gaudens, Tampa, Fla., Chevrolet Corvette, 25. 25. (36), Joe Freda, Auburn, Ala., Chevrolet Camaro, 25. 26. (37), Frank Cioppettini, Far Hills, N.J., Chevrolet Camaro, 25. 27. (12), Don Sak, West Bloomfield, Mich., Oldsmobile Cutlass, 24, Mech. 28. (21), C. David Seuss, Charlestown, Mass., Oldsmobile Cutlass, 24. 29. (19), Gary Johnson, Knoxville, Tenn., Ford Mustang Cobra, 24. 30. (2), G.J. Mennen, Austin, Texas, Ford Mustang Cobra, 22. 31. (27), Mike Farmer, Rockford, Mich., Ford Mustang Cobra, 21. 32. (5), Lou Gigliotti, Garland, Texas, Chevrolet Corvette, 20, Mech. 33. (11), Max Lagod, Barrington, Ill., Chevrolet Camaro, 20, Mech. 34. (64), Johnny W. Miller IV, Johnson City, Tenn., Chevrolet Corvette, 18, Mech. 35. (15), Mike Davis, Huntington Beach, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 15, Mech. 36. (24), Don Meluzio, York, Pa., Chevrolet Camaro, 8, Mech. 37. (39), Carl Cormier, Davidson, N.C., Chevrolet Camaro, 8, Mech. 38. (38), Bob McGrew, Cornelius, N.C., Chevrolet Camaro, 2, Mech. 39. (26), Bill Eagle, Tampa, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 1, Crash. 40. (37), Dan Furey, Columbus, Ohio, Chevrolet Corvette, 0, dns. 41. (36), Claudio Burtin, Cartersville, Ga., Ford Mustang Cobra, 0, dns.
Time of race: 1 hour, 8 minutes, 13.610 seconds. Average speed: 87.854 miles-per-hour Margin of victory: 4.5849 seconds Lap leaders: 1- 27, Paul Gentilozzi; Fastest race lap: Paul Gentilozzi, 2:06.108 (105.623 mph), lap 13 Cautions: one for five laps
1999 Final BFGoodrich Tires Cup Drivers' Championship Point Standings - Top-20 Position, Driver, Car, Points
1. Paul Gentilozzi, Ford Mustang, 339 2. Brian Simo, Ford Mustang, 326 3. Chris Neville, Ford Mustang, 283 4. Michael Lewis, Ford Mustang, 266 5. Johnny W. Miller IV, Chevy Corvette, 252 6. Randy Ruhlman, Ford Mustang, 228 7. Leighton Reese, Pontiac Grand Prix, 224 8. Bob Ruman, Chevy Camaro, 186 9. Simon Gregg, Chevy Camaro, 185 10. Tomy Drissi, Ford Mustang, 181 11. G.J. Mennen, Ford Mustang, 161 12. Steve Pelke, Chevy Camaro, 151 13. Tom Coleman, Chevy Camaro, 138 14. James Briody, Chevy Camaro, 132 15. Lou Gigliotti, Chevy Corvette, 111 16. Max Lagod, Chevy Camaro, 110 17. Don Sak, Olds Cutlass, 90 18. C. David Seuss, Olds Cutlass, 71 19. Frank Cioppettini, Chevy Camaro, 71 20. Dorsey Schroeder, Ford Mustang, 70