LAS VEGAS, Nev. (November 1, 2000) - Brian Simo outlasted the rain, chief rival Paul Gentilozzi, and a loose wheel to score a 14th-place finish at the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series race at Las Vegas Speedway Sunday. Though the finish wasn't as good as hoped for, Simo kept himself and his Huffaker/Qvale Tommy Bahama Qvale Mangusta in contention for the season championship and the owner's championship as the Trans-Am heads to the San Diego Grand Prix this weekend and the season finale.
"Obviously, the race didn't go the way we wanted," Simo said. "We had a good start and took the lead, which is good for the championship point, but the rain made the track a challenge for everyone. I spun a couple of times and we lost a wheel when we stopped for rain tires, so that was it. The good news is that we gained some points on Paul. We'll go get 'em in San Diego."
"We had the opportunity to move closer," said Joe Huffaker, vice president and technical director of Huffaker/Qvale Motorsports, "so it's disappointing that we didn't score more points. But we've come a long way this year, with the new car and new team. As long as there is a chance at the title, we'll be going for it flat out."
Simo's chances for the title were boosted just before the race when the results of an appeals court decision were announced. Gentilozzi had appealed a 25-second penalty at the Houston Grand Prix, which had moved Gentilozzi back from first to sixth in the final results. The SCCA Court of Appeals ruled to uphold the chief steward's decision, and let the results stand as they were officially posted after the race. Gentilozzi could have potentially picked up 10 points if the decision had gone the other way. The Tommy Bahama squad heads to the season finale with a 14 points deficit, and 34 possible points available in the final race.
The final race for the Trans-Am troops this year is November 5 at the San Diego Grand Prix.