Trois-Rivieres: Round six preview, schedule

Fellows and Kendall To Lead Battle of The Trans-Am Titans at Trois-Rivieres TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Quebec (July 26, 2004) -- The Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières has long been a part of the Motorock Trans-Am Series legend. On Sunday, Aug. 1, that legend...

Fellows and Kendall To Lead Battle of The Trans-Am Titans at Trois-Rivieres

TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Quebec (July 26, 2004) -- The Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières has long been a part of the Motorock Trans-Am Series legend. On Sunday, Aug. 1, that legend will continue at North America's oldest temporary street circuit as the Trans-Am Series hits town for Round 6 of this year's championship. This year's race will rewrite both the Series' and the event's history as two former Trans-Am legends will reunite, ready to battle for victory in the 35th anniversary of this historic race.

Ron Fellows will make his second Series start this season at Trois-Rivières. Fellows, who ranks seventh in all-time Trans-Am victories with 19, returned to Trans-Am competition last month in Toronto, finishing third. Fellows last competed full time in the Trans-Am Series in 1996. Fellows will wheel the No. 40 Chevrolet Corvette fielded by Derhaag Motorsports here, teaming with longtime Trans-Am competitor Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Canada Chevrolet Corvette).

"The opportunity to be part of Trois-Rivières' 35th anniversary is an honor," said Fellows, who won two-straight races at Trois-Rivières from 1995-1996. "Having gone to Trois-Rivières as a spectator as a teenager, it's always been special. Then, to win a couple of races here makes this year's race even more special.

"The French Canadian fans have a passion for road racing that makes it a pleasure to be a part of this race," added Fellows. "They are knowledgeable, and they have treated me with great respect over the years."

Fellows' Trans-Am statistics showcase his might as one of sports car racing's top talents. Building upon his 40 podiums, 60 top-five and 72 top-ten finishes, and 13 poles in 96 Trans-Am starts, Fellows also led the most race laps in three-straight seasons (1994, '95 and '96). His five wins in 11 races in 1995 helped Chevrolet earn a record 14th Manufacturers' Championship. Fellows followed that with four more Trans-Am victories in 1996, his final year competing with Chevrolet's factory team, McCall Racing.

But battling Fellows for the top spot will be Trans-Am's only four-time champion Tommy Kendall. Kendall has three victories here, in 1990, 1994 and 1997. Kendall returned to Trans-Am this year with venerable Rocketsports Racing and Jaguar, driving the No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR. Kendall is helping to develop Jaguar's new production-based, overhead-cam, fuel injected AJ-V8 engine this year. Kendall has won three poles in 2004 and recorded best finish of second at Infineon Raceway.

Kendall said this year's Trois-Rivières race will be his best chance at victory with the new engine.

"It's interesting coming into Trois-Rivières with this new engine as my first victory here came when we were running a fuel-injected V-6 engine, while most of field had V-8s," said Kendall, of his 1990 victory here in a Chevrolet Beretta. Kendall has won here twice since in 1994 and 1997, making him the winningest driver on this year's Trois-Rivières entry list. "This race track is like seven dragstrips put together with 90-degree turns. Braking is critical here and that's an area where I've always excelled, so this race shakes out well for us. We have a 100-pound weight advantage on the rest of the field due to our engine setup, which will also fall in our favor.

"This race always becomes a bit of a brawl," added Kendall. "The fans are great here. Although I don't speak French and most of the people there don't speak English, they're excited to be there. You don't need to speak to appreciate what we do."

Kendall is also the only driver to win three-straight Trans-Am titles, from 1995-1997. He also won the championship in 1990. His 11-race win streak in 1997 remains the longest in Series history. The streak also gave Kendall the most victories in one season, one more than the legendary Mark Donohue.

Meanwhile, Ruhlman is hoping to build upon his third-place finish here last year. Ruhlman is on a tear this year, having recorded two podium finishes this season--a third-place effort at Infineon and a runner-up finish at Toronto. Ruhlman sits third in points going into Trois-Rivières.

"Throughout the years, no matter what car we've been in, we've been strong at Trois-Rivières," said Ruhlman. "It's one of those places that I've taken a liking to. It suits my driving style. We have strong performances there."

But Jorge Diaz, Jr., coming off his first-career Trans-Am victory, at Toronto, is poised to record another good result at Trois-Rivières.

"The win in Toronto was the biggest accomplishment in my racing career," said Diaz, who now sits just two points behind points leader Paul Gentilozzi. "We are hopeful we can back it up here."

Gentilozzi too is ready to continue his dominant season. Gentilozzi has won three of five races this season and sits ready to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of eclipsing Trans-Am's all-time win record held by Donohue. Gentilozzi needs just two more victories to tie the 29-race-win mark held by Donohue.

The 35th Anniversary Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 30-Aug. 1. The Trans-Am race is scheduled to start at 3:45 p.m. on Sunday. The Trans-Am Series is the featured event of a full weekend of racing, which also includes the Formula Renault 2000 North American Championship, Historic Formula Atlantic, Formula 1600, Championship Auto Quebec, Honda/Michelin Challenge, Coupe Toyota Echo Pirelli Cup and FASCAR.

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: 35th Anniversary Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières, Round 6 of the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series Championship

When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday July 30 -- Aug. 1, 2004
Race Day: Sunday, Aug. 1, at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Distance: 66 laps/100.32 miles
Where: The race will be run on a 1.506-mile, nine-turn temporary street circuit

<pre> Schedule: Friday July 30, 2004 8:00 a.m. - 8:20 a.m. Touring Practice 8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m. F-1600 Practice 9:00 a.m. - 9:20 a.m. GTO/GTU Practice 9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m. FASCAR Practice 10:00 a.m. - 10:20 a.m. Coupe Toyota Echo Practice 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Formula 2000 Practice 11:10 a.m. - 11:40 a.m. Trans-Am Practice 11:50 a.m. - 12:10 p.m. Vintage Practice 1:10 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Honda Michelin Practice 1:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Touring Practice 2:10 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. F-1600 Practice 2:40 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. GTO/GTU Practice 3:10 p.m. - 3:40 p.m. Trans-Am Practice 3:50 p.m. - 4:20 p.m. Formula 2000 Practice 4:30 p.m. - 4:50 p.m. Coupe Toyota Echo Practice 5:00 p.m. - 5:20 p.m. FASCAR Practice 5:30 p.m. - 5:50 p.m. Vintage Practice

Saturday, July 31, 2004 8:00 a.m. - 8:20 a.m. Vintage Practice 8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m. GTO/GTU Qualifying 9:00 a.m. - 9:20 a.m. Coupe Toyota Echo Qualifying 9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m. FASCAR Qualifying 10:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Formula 2000 Qualifying 10:40 a.m. - 11:10 a.m. Trans-Am Qualifying 11:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m. Touring Qualifying 11:50 a.m. - 12:10 p.m. Honda Michelin Practice 1:10 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Formula 1600 Qualifying 1:40 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. Coupe Toyota Echo Race (20 Laps - 30 Minutes) 2:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Trans-Am Practice 3:20 p.m. - 4:05 p.m. GTO/GTU Race (40 minutes) 4:20 p.m. - 4:55 p.m. FASCAR Race (20 Laps - 30 Minutes) 5:05 p.m. - 5:25 p.m. Vintage Qualifying

Sunday, Aug. 1, 2004 8:00 a.m. - 8:20 a.m. Honda Michelin Qualifying 8:30 a.m. - 8:45 a.m. F-1600 Warm-Up 8:55 a.m. - 9:10 a.m. Vintage Warm-Up 9:20 a.m. - 9:35 a.m. Touring Warm-Up 9:45 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Formula 2000 Warm-Up 10:15 a.m. - 10:50 a.m. Honda Michelin Race (20 Laps - 30 Minutes) 11:00 a.m. - 11:40 a.m. F-1600 Race (25 Laps - 35 Minutes) 11:50 a.m. - 12:25 p.m. Touring Race (20 Laps - 30 Minutes) 12:30 p.m. - 1:15 a.m. Trans-Am Autograph Session (location TBD) 1:15 p.m. - 1:35 p.m. 35th Anniversary Parade 1:40 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. Vintage Race (20 Laps - 30 Minutes) 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Formula 2000 Race (32 Laps) 3:30 p.m. Trans-Am Grid Cars 3:45 p.m. Trans- Am Race (66 laps/100.366 miles) 5:20 p.m. Trans-Am Winner Circle Activities

Trois-Rivières Review:

NOTEBOOK...

* With victories in 1990, '94 and '97, Tommy Kendall can secure a record fourth Trois-Rivières Trans-Am triumph this year.

* Interestingly, Kendall's first victory here in 1990 was in a fuel-injected V-6-engined Chevrolet Beretta, one of two in the field that year. Kendall will drive the only fuel-injected car in the field this year.

* The 1990 race here holds further significance as Tommy Kendall was teamed with current Champ Car Race Director Chris Kneifel, who finished 14th.

* Ron Fellows (1995 and 1996 winner) and Paul Gentilozzi (1998 and 1999 winner) can tie Kendall with three victories here.

* Paul Gentilozzi can pad his lead in all-time Trans-Am street-and-temporary circuit wins in this year's Trans-Am race here. With his victory in Cleveland, his 15th on a street-or-temporary circuit, Gentilozzi took sole possession of first in that category, breaking a tie with Tommy Kendall.

* The 2004 Trois-Rivières race comes on the heels of a three-race streak of different winners (Paul Gentilozzi, Butch Leitzinger, Scott Pruett) and three-race streak of different winning marques (Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette, Jaguar XKR).

* Rocketsports Racing (1998, 1999, 2003 winner) can grab its fourth victory here this year.

* Rocketsports Racing can also earn its second-consecutive pole here.

* A win by 2003 Rookie of the Year Jorge Diaz, Jr. here will give him the points lead, if current points leader Paul Gentilozzi finishes second or worse and earns no bonus points.

* Randy Ruhlman is looking for his third-consecutive podium finish at Trois-Rivières. Ruhlman finished third last year, after posting a runner-up effort in 2002. This race will mark Ruhlman's 143rd Trans-Am start. A podium would also be Ruhlman's third this year.

* The race for the GT-1 Driver Development Program Championship will heat up here this year as Jon "Chevy" Leavy, Garrett Kletjian and B.K. "Kenny" Bupp will all be in position to take the GT-1 points lead. Leavy, currently third in GT-1 points, needs to finish ninth or better to grab that honor.

RACE HISTORY...

* The first Trans-Am race here was held in 1976 and was won by George Follmer in a Porsche Carrera RSR. The Series returned to Trois-Rivières in 1979 and continued to hold an event each season through 1985. The Series came back to Trois-Rivières in 1990 and held an event on the historic street circuit every year through 1999. After a two-year hiatus, the Trans-Am Series again held events here in 2002 and 2003.

* The 20 races here (including two races featuring Category I competitors in 1976 and 1979) have produced 15 overall and 17 total race winners.

* Tommy Kendall is the all-time win leader here with three triumphs (1990, 1994, and 1997). He took the 1990 win in a C&C Chevrolet Beretta and the 1994 and 1997 victories in Roush Ford Mustangs.

* Scott Sharp, winner from the pole in 1991 and 1993; Ron Fellows, the 1995 and 1996 winner; and Paul Gentilozzi, the winner in 1998 and 1999 are the only other drivers with multiple victories here.

* Dorsey Schroeder finished second here for three-straight years (1994-1996), making him the only driver in Trans-Am history to finish second at the same venue in three consecutive races.

* Chevrolet leads the marques in victories here with 12, including one Category I win.

* Chevrolet's Camaro has seven overall wins.

* Chevrolet's Corvette has three overall victories, scored by Eppie Wietzes (1981), Paul Gentilozzi (1998), and Butch Leitzinger (2002). All three also set the fastest race lap.

* While Chevrolet's Camaro won here in 1980, 1983, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, and 1996, Ford's Mustang had never won here prior to Tommy Kendall's 1994 victory. That win was Mustang's only Trois-Rivières win before the 1997 event, also won by Kendall. Paul Gentilozzi gave the Mustang its third Trois-Rivières Trans-Am win in 1999.

* Ford Motor Company's only pre-1994 wins at Trois-Rivières were achieved by Mercury Capris in 1984 and 1985.

* Scott Pruett scored Jaguar's first-ever Trois-Rivières Trans-Am win in 2003.

* McCall Racing leads all teams in Trois-Rivières Trans-Am wins with five; the first three (1991-93) came consecutively, a Trois-Rivières Trans-Am record. McCall won consecutively in 1995-1996 as well. Rocketsports Racing has three wins, in 1998 and 1999 with Paul Gentilozzi, and in 2003 with Scott Pruett.

* All but one victory margin (John Bauer's 1976 Category I margin of one lap) has been less than one lap. In fact, all but Bauer's have been less than one minute with the record standing at .503 of a second (Paul Gentilozzi ahead of Brian Simo).

* The 1994 race set a Trans-Am record for lead-lap finishers here, 11, tied with 1995's lead-lap list. The "current format" 1980-2003 period of 17 races has produced an average of 6.82 lead-lap finishers per race.

* Eleven overall (55.0%) Trois-Rivières Trans-Am victories have come from the pole. The average starting position of a race winner here is 2.14. John Paul, Jr.'s win from seventh in 1983 came from the deepest on the grid.

* Scott Sharp won the pole three-straight times from 1991-1993, becoming the first driver to win three poles here. Tommy Kendall also has three poles here (1994, 1995, and 1997), and can break the tie this year to become Trois-Rivières' all-time pole winner.

* Ford Mustangs earned four consecutive poles here from 1994-1997, prior to Paul Gentilozzi's 1998 pole in a Corvette; the first overall pole for a Corvette here. Gentilozzi went on to win the 1999 pole in a Ford Mustang. Chevrolet's Camaro took four consecutive poles here from 1990-1993, all by McCall Racing entries.

* Ron Fellows and Paul Gentilozzi can end a tie of three fastest race laps apiece here this year.

* There have been seven sweeps here of a driver winning the pole, setting the fastest race lap, and the winning the race. They are George Follmer (1976 Category II), John Bauer (1976 Category I), John Paul, Sr. (1979 Category II), Roy Woods (1980), Willy T. Ribbs (1985), Paul Gentilozzi (1998 and 1999), and Scott Pruett (2003).

* Among the 22 winners here, 14 (61.9%) have gone on to take that season's championship. Only John Bauer (1976 Category I), Roy Woods (1980), John Paul, Jr. (1983), Willy T. Ribbs (1985), Tommy Kendall (1994), Ron Fellows (1995, 1996), and Butch Leitzinger (2002) have failed to do so, though Leitzinger won the Rookie of the Year title in 2002.

-ccws/transam-

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Chris Kneifel , Scott Sharp , Ron Fellows , Scott Pruett , Brian Simo , Paul Gentilozzi , George Follmer , Randy Ruhlman , Dorsey Schroeder , Willy T. Ribbs , Garrett Kletjian , John Paul , Mark Donohue , Tommy Kendall , Jorge Diaz