Simo outduels Gentilozzi to grab pole At Houston

HOUSTON -- Brian Simo clocked a session-best qualifying time of 1:12.253 (76.083 mph) to pick up the pole for Round Nine of the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series at the TEXACO Havoline Grand Prix of Houston this afternoon. For Simo, in the ...

HOUSTON -- Brian Simo clocked a session-best qualifying time of 1:12.253 (76.083 mph) to pick up the pole for Round Nine of the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series at the TEXACO Havoline Grand Prix of Houston this afternoon. For Simo, in the #88 Tommy Bahama Qvale Mangusta, it was his second consecutive pole. Series leader Paul Gentilozzi, in the #1 Johnson Controls HomeLink Jaguar XKR, narrowly missed the pole with a time of 1:12.294. Gentilozzi, the 1999 Champion of the TEXACO Havoline Grand Prix of Houston, is making his eighth consecutive appearance in the Fast Five this season. Willy T. Ribbs, in the #16 Simple Green Chevrolet Camaro, rebounded from a horrendous weekend at the Grand Prix of Texas three weeks ago to pick up the third spot. Ribbs did not start in Dallas after the #16 caught fire during practice. Jack Willes (#48 TWC Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette) and Chris Neville (#84 Soenen Motorsports Ford Mustang) round out the Fast Five Qualifiers for round nine of the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series. "This is a hard track to guess on and we were only on it for a short time this morning," said Simo. "We are happy to be on the pole, but I think that the car can run even faster. We really didn't make any changes from this morning." "We come to every race expecting to lead all of the sessions and gain the pole," said Gentilozzi. "This time we made a mistake as a team and could not get the rear end of the car to hook up like it did in this morning's practice session. We know that the car will get better. This is a very physical track, both on the driver and the car." Round Nine of the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series will begin at 4:30 tomorrow afternoon. The race will be 65 laps of the 1.527-mile circuit (99.255 miles) or a 90-minute time limit. Gentilozzi, who is in search of his third consecutive championship, leads Simo by a narrow eight-point margin, 198 to 190.

<pre> Houston --- The provisional qualifying positions for Saturday's 43-lap, 65.661 mile BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series Round Number 9, at Houston Street Circuit, with starting position, driver, hometown and fast lap with speed.

1. Brian Simo, Carlsbad, Calif., 1:12.253, 76.083. 2. Paul Gentilozzi, Lansing, Mich., 1:12.294, 76.040. 3. Willy T. Ribbs, San Jose, Calif., 1:12.306, 76.027. 4. Jack Willes, Cornelius, NC, 1:12.880, 75.428. 5. Chris Neville, Scottsdale, Az., 1:12.901, 75.406. 6. Stu Hayner, Yorba Linda, Calif., 1:13.098, 75.203. 7. Randy Ruhlman, Greensboro, NC, 1:13.211, 75.087. 8. Lou Gigliotti, Dallas, Tex., 1:13.232, 75.066. 9. Leighton Reese, Minnetonka, Minn., 1:13.273, 75.024. 10. Johnny Miller, Johnson City, Tenn., 1:13.538, 74.753. 11. G.J. Mennen, Austin, Tx., 1:13.593, 74.697. 12. Jeff Altenburg, Baltimore, Md., 1:13.700, 74.589. 13. Craig Baird, Hamliton, New Zealand, 1:13.792, 74.496. 14. Michael Lewis, San Diego CA, Calif., 1:13.925, 74.362. 15. Tomy Drissi, Hollywood, Calif., 1:13.998, 74.288. 16. Kerry Alexander, Indianapolis, Ind., 1:14.125, 74.161. 17. Bob Ruman, Munroe Falls, Ohio, 1:14.310, 73.977. 18. Don Sak, W. Bloomfield, Mich., 1:15.462, 72.847. 19. Grant Sylvester, Christchurch, New Zealand, 1:15.654, 72.662. 20. Simon Gregg, Jacksonville, Fla., 1:15.840, 72.484. 21. Mike Davis, Huntington Beach, Calif., 1:16.192, 72.149. 22. Gary Johnson, Knoxville, Tenn., 1:16.777, 71.600. 23. Jerry Kinn, Anchorage, Ak., 1:17.144, 71.259. 24. Jerry Simmons, Ancaster Ontario, Calif., 1:17.831, 70.630. 25. Jim Briody, Cherry Hill, NJ, 1:18.614, 69.926. 26. C. David Seuss, Charlestown, Ma., 1:18.695, 69.855. k

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Brian Simo , David Seuss , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Leighton Reese , Kerry Alexander , Johnny Miller , Randy Ruhlman , Jerry Simmons , Don Sak , Lou Gigliotti , Bob Ruman , Michael Lewis , Simon Gregg , Willy T. Ribbs , Jack Willes , Jeff Altenburg , G.J. Mennen , Craig Baird , Stu Hayner , Mike Davis , Jerry Kinn , John Gary , Jim Briody