Paul Gentilozzi, driver of the no. 3 Johnson Controls Jaguar XKR, was in a single car incident in the turn 16/17 complex during Thursday's test session. Gentilozzi broke two ribs on his right side and sat out Saturday's practice and qualifying session and will start last in today's Trans-Am race.
Gentilozzi has been cleared by Trans-Am Series Medical Director Dr. Ron Krome to drive in today's Trans-Am race. Gentilozzi plans to start the race and stay in the car as long as possible or until the first caution.
Jack Willes has been tapped as the relief driver for Gentilozzi. Willes, from nearby Charlotte, NC, made his Trans-Am debut in 2000 with TWC Motorsports and Epic Racing driving a Corvette, Camaro, and a Mustang. He notched three top-three finishes that year at Charlotte, Las Vegas, and Houston.
In 2002, Willes has two Trans-Am starts with Comer Racing in a Corvette at Mid-Ohio and Washington, DC, finishing 10th in both outings. He also has four Grand-Am starts with Dick Greer Racing.
This weekend, Willes is driving in the Pro Spec Racer series with his own effort, East Anglia Motorsports out of Concord, NC. He finished 18th in the first race and will start 10th in this afternoon's race.
Willes competed in the recent Grand-Am race at VIR, but only ran one lap before a broken cam ended his day. He does, however, have approximately 300 laps of Pro Spec Racer test time at VIR.
Gentilozzi on Willes stepping into the No.3 Johnson Controls Jaguar XKR. "I'll start the car and drive until something really aggravates the rib injury, or until the first caution. Then I'll turn the wheel over to Jack. I trust Jack and he's familiar with Trans-Am cars and this track. I've raced with him and I know he can get the job done for us."
Willes on being tapped as Gentilozzi's relief driver. "I was surprised and very happy. Having my name come up in the Rocketsports paddock was exciting for me. Everyone knows that I take care of the equipment and bring it home in one piece. I'm looking for a good finish today for the Rocketsports team and to get as many points as possible to help Paul in the points standings. If the race unfolds with the potential for a podium finish, I'd like to go for it.