Toronto: Round five preview

Kendall Looking For Toronto Repeat During Trans-Am's Return To The Molson Indy TORONTO, Ontario (July 6, 2004) -- It's been 10 years since Torontonians have heard the roar of V-8-engined sports cars reverberating down Lakeshore Blvd. That will...

Kendall Looking For Toronto Repeat During Trans-Am's Return To The Molson Indy

TORONTO, Ontario (July 6, 2004) -- It's been 10 years since Torontonians have heard the roar of V-8-engined sports cars reverberating down Lakeshore Blvd. That will all change this weekend, as the Motorock Trans-Am Series returns to Toronto's Exhibition Place Friday and Saturday, July 9-10 for the Trans-Am in T.O., part of the Molson Indy Toronto weekend.

Although the Trans-Am Series has only a two-year history at Toronto's 1.75-mile temporary street course, two Trans-Am legends have stood atop of the podium here. In 1993, Scott Sharp won the 56-lap race flag to flag from the pole driving a McCall Racing Chevrolet Camaro. Ron Fellows was second in that race. The following year, Tommy Kendall won, driving a Roush Racing Ford Mustang. Fellows led laps 15-42 driving a Gloy Racing Ford Mustang, but finished 13th.

Kendall's team gambled in 1994, making a different tire choice than every other car in the field. That gamble paid off.

"The last time here, we had a tire choice," said Kendall, who currently sits third in points. "We gambled on the tires, and took the softer compound. We realized we were the only ones using those tires, so we had to take it easy early in the race, but it paid off. I only raced here once, but I've been here as a fan and a commentator eight or nine times. I'm really looking forward to it."

This year, Kendall will again have something different than every other driver in the field. Kendall is driving the No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR sporting Jaguar's new stock-block, overhead-cam, fuel-injected engine here, the only car in the field so equipped. According to Kendall, who has won two poles and recorded a best finish of second this year, Toronto's tight street course will suit the engine.

"It's going to be interesting because our car has been getting stronger and this track lines up for us pretty well on paper," said Kendall, who returned to Trans-Am competition this year after six-year hiatus. "Paul (Gentilozzi) and I have raced here. The track is pretty much the same except for the last two corners. I think I'll have a little bit of an edge here.

Kendall said Toronto's fans also make for an exciting race weekend.

"Toronto is a tremendous city, and the fact that the fans are so knowledgeable makes it really nice to race here," said Kendall. "The Toronto fans are sophisticated. They pay attention. I appreciate their passion. Canadian fans love Trans-Am. What's not to love about it. The cars make the right noise. They have fenders so you can beat and bang on them. We have had great rivalries through the years. Lots of big names have come through the Series. I think you'll find a dormant fan base almost everywhere that Trans-Am has raced in the past."

Tomy Drissi (No. 5 Dodgeball--The Movie Jaguar XKR) has put together his best season on record, winning a pole, as well as earning a pair of runner-up finishes. He sits sixth in points going into Toronto. Drissi is also looking forward to the energy of Toronto's race fans.

"Anytime we go to Canada, it's amazing," said Drissi. "The race fans in Canada are great. I have never been to Toronto, so it's going to be tough. That's what's good about having a teammate like Tommy Kendall. He's won here. I'm just going to follow him.

"We've had a couple of DNFs this year; we'd be leading the championship without them," added Drissi. "Consistency is everything. It's a street course so you have to be careful. I have to score points, but I'd sure like to win. I'm looking forward to it."

Meanwhile, 2003 Rookie of the Year Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR) is after his first Trans-Am victory. He's coming off a podium finish in Cleveland and expects success in Toronto.

"Last year, we were very strong on the new tracks," said Diaz. "We adapt to new tracks very quickly and that worked in our favor. We have a very strong team and we've worked very hard on the car. It looks like it's finally to the point were we are really competitive. Things are going great this season. We know we have a strong car and we know we'll get a lot of top finishes."

The Trans-Am in T.O., part of the Molson Indy Toronto weekend, is scheduled for Saturday, July 11. The race will start at 3 p.m., immediately following the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford qualifying. The Trans-Am Series is part of a full weekend of racing, which also includes the featured Champ Car World Series, as well as the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, the CASCAR Super Series and the Canadian Formula 1600 Championship. The race will be broadcast LIVE on HDNet, with tape-delayed highlights coverage on Spike TV's popular "Dangerous Curves" timeslot, Sunday, July 18 at 1:30 p.m. (EDT, PDT).

The Motorock Trans-Am Series features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Series is America's oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 39th year of competition in 2004.

Fast Facts:

What: The Trans-Am in T.O., Round 5 of the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series championship
When: Friday and Saturday, July 9-10, 2004

Race Day: Saturday, July 10, at 3 p.m., immediately following Champ Car World Series qualifying

Distance: One hour, time certain

Where: The race will be run on a 1.75-mile, 11-turn temporary street course

Toronto Tidbits:

NOTEBOOK

* Tommy Kendall, 1994 Toronto Trans-Am winner, seeks to become first two-time winner here. Kendall won from the pole in his only Toronto Trans-Am start in 1994.

* Paul Gentilozzi enters the Trans-Am in T.O. looking for his first victory here. Gentilozzi has one retirement (mechanical, 1993) and a fourth-place finish (1994) in the two previous races here.

* Randy Ruhlman finished seventh, on the lead lap, in the 1993 Toronto race.

* Jaguar is seeking its first victory here, as is the Chevrolet Corvette. Both are also seeking their first poles. If a Ford Mustang wins, it will mark the second-straight victory for the car, and will make it the only multiple-time winner here.

HISTORY

* The Trans-Am Series returns to Toronto to stage its third race on the Toronto streets. The Series held Toronto races in 1993 and 1994.

* In 1993, Scott Sharp won the 56-lap race after leading every lap from the pole driving a McCall Racing Chevrolet Camaro. Ron Fellows finished second in a Gloy Racing Ford Mustang. George Robinson drove his own Chevrolet Camaro to a third-place finish and won the Star of the Race award. Greg Pickett set fastest race lap in a Chevrolet Camaro. Seven cars finished on the lead lap and 22 of the 27 starters finished the race.

* In 1994, Tommy Kendall won the Toronto race, driving a Roush Racing Ford Mustang. Kendall led laps one through 14 and laps 43 through 56 to win. Scott Pruett finished second in a McCall Racing Chevrolet Camaro, also setting fastest race lap. Dorsey Schroeder finished third in a Gloy Racing Ford Mustang. Ron Fellows led laps 15-42 driving a Gloy Racing Ford Mustang, but finished 13th, four laps down. Five cars finished on the lead lap as 16 of the 19 starters finished the race.

Schedule: <pre> Friday, July 9, 2004 7:30 a.m. Gates Open to Public 8:00 a.m. - 8:20 a.m. CASCAR Practice 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. F-1600 Practice 9:15 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. Atlantic Practice 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Champ Car Practice 11:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Trans-Am Practice 12:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. VIP Pit Walk Through 1:00 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. Trans-Am Autograph Session 1:15 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. Atlantic Qualifying 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Champ Car Qualifying 3:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. VIP Pit Walk Through 4:00 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. Trans-Am Qualifying 4:55 p.m. Trans-Am Post-Qualifying Press Conference 5:00 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. CASCAR Qualifying 6:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. F-1600 Qualifying

Saturday, July 10, 2004 8:00 a.m. - 8:20 a.m. CASCAR Final Practice 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. F-1600 Warm Up 9:15 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. Trans-Am Final Practice 10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Champ Car Practice 11:35 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. VIP Pit Walk Through 12:30 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. Atlantic Practice/Qualifying 1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. Champ Car Qualifying 2:30 p.m. Trans-Am Grid Cars (in Paddock) 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Trans-Am Race 4:05 p.m. Trans-Am Winner's Circle Activities (Top three and top GT-1 competitor) 4:15 p.m. Trans-Am Post-Race Press Conference (Top three and top GT-1 competitor) 4:15 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. CASCAR Race 5:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. VIP Pit Walk Through

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Scott Sharp , Ron Fellows , Scott Pruett , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Randy Ruhlman , George Robinson , Dorsey Schroeder , Greg Pickett , Tommy Kendall , Jorge Diaz