GENTILOZZI ECLIPSES DONOHUE'S TRANS-AM RECORD WITH TORONTO WIN TORONTO, Ontario (July 9, 2005) -- Saturday, at the Molson Indy Toronto, another Trans-Am legend was born as Paul Gentilozzi earned his 30th career Trans-Am victory in the Trans-Am...
GENTILOZZI ECLIPSES DONOHUE'S TRANS-AM RECORD WITH TORONTO WIN
TORONTO, Ontario (July 9, 2005) -- Saturday, at the Molson Indy Toronto, another Trans-Am legend was born as Paul Gentilozzi earned his 30th career Trans-Am victory in the Trans-Am in T.O. The win mark moved the driver of the No. 1 Jaguar R Performance XKR out of a tie with late racing legend Mark Donohue for first on the all-time Trans-Am win list.
1978 Trans-Am champion Greg Pickett finished second in the No. 6 Cytomax Jaguar XKR and Tomy Drissi was third in the No. 5 Supercross -- The Movie Jaguar XKR. Joey Scarallo (No. 06 Group A Wheels/Autotrend/Toyo Tires Chevrolet Corvette) and John Baucom (No. 86 MAP Quality Engineering/SoftwareToolbox.com Ford Mustang) completed the top five. Randy Ruhlman, who finished seventh in a Chevrolet Corvette after a cut tire slowed his charge, retains the points lead going into next week's race at Edmonton. Paul Fix (No. 77 Stop Flex/Computer Systems Centre/Pennzoil Ford Mustang won the GT-1 Class.
Gentilozzi took the lead for good on lap 33 when teammate Klaus Graf (No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR) suffered a cut tire. Gentilozzi dominated the race from there, and scored his first Toronto win.
"I see Roger Penske quite a bit," Gentilozzi said of Donohue's former team owner. "He chided me, saying I couldn't get over the hump. Really, we talk about this as Mark's record, but it's also Penske's record as a team. I was pleased to see Mark Donohue race at Michigan International Speedway in 1968 at the first Trans-Am race I ever attended. It was exciting to say then that I'd get to race like that. Then, 20 years later, I got my first Trans-Am win. Of all of the things Mark Donohue accomplished, this was just one of a lot of records, but even being mentioned in the same breath as him is a real privilege. It's also very important for me to extend my respect to Mark's wife, and his son, David, who I know really well."
Gentilozzi said it was special to win his 30th race in Trans-Am's 40th anniversary season. He also said he will keep fighting to continue Trans-Am's legacy as the North America's premiere sedan road racing series.
"Over the last seven or eight years a lot of people have talked about Trans-Am being dead, and it's this or it's that, but it's still here--in its 40th year, and that was a significant task," added Gentilozzi, who won his first Trans-Am race in 1988 at Long Beach. "We've fought this battle and we want to continue to fight the battle. We want Trans-Am to continue to be a great Series, and as long as we continue to have great drivers like we do today, we'll keep having a series."
Pickett fought his way through the field from the fourth starting position, muscling past Drissi for second on lap 49 and held on from there. However, Pickett was more interested in Gentilozzi's record than his own finish.
"This is just really, really special to me to be on the podium with the guy who is the winningest driver in Trans-Am history," said Pickett. "Everybody has their era. Mark did it in a relatively short period of time, but that does nothing to dull this great accomplishment. My hat goes off to Paul, his entire family, and Rocketsports Racing. There probably wouldn't be a Trans-Am Series today if it weren't for Paul Gentilozzi. I'm just privileged to be on the podium with the guy who is the best Trans-Am driver of all time. Good going Paul."
Drissi fought off several competitors and held on to third, his first podium this season.
"Once I got into a groove, someone always came after me," said Drissi. "First it was Randy (Ruhlman). We went side by side and he cut a tire. Once Randy went away, then came Pickett. We raced really cleanly, but he just had a bit more tire than I did. Then Joey Scarallo; I don't know where he came from. I think I kept my composure, and the team did a great job this weekend."
The race ran in one hour, 16 minutes and 4.396 seconds at an average speed of 76.131 miles per hour. The race was slowed by the caution flag twice for a total of 11 laps.
Fix won the VP Fuels Hard Charger Award in the GT-1 Class, while Gentilozzi claimed the VP Hard Charger Award in the Trans-Am class. Hima Maher, who finished eighth in the No. 78 Centennial Motorsports of Calgary Chevrolet Corvette, won the BFGoodrich Tires Anniversary Award, which gives four free tires to the eighth-place finisher to celebrate it's eighth consecutive year as Trans-Am's spec tire supplier.