SCHROEDER CLAIMS HIS FIRST WATKINS GLEN TRANS-AM VICTORY AS FORD SWEEPS THE PODIUM AT THE SERENGETI EYEWEAR TRANS-AM CLASSIC
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- (August 10, 1996) Dorsey Schroeder, driving the #12 Raybestos Ford Mustang Cobra, led a Ford 1-2-3 finish at the Serengeti Eyewear Trans-Am Classic at Watkins Glen International to claim his fourth win of the 1996 season.
Schroeder, of Osage Beach, Mo., started the 42-lap, 109.2-mile contest second but jumped into the lead, past and pole-sitter Paul Gentilozzi, in the #5 HighwayMaster Chevrolet Camaro, at the first turn of the first lap.
Once in the lead, Schroeder dueled throughout the race with Boris Said, in the #14 Lion's Pride Mustang Cobra, eventually finishing 1.4929 seconds ahead of Tom Kendall, with Said claiming the final podium spot, Ford's first 1-2-3 finish of 1996.
"I don't think you can have any better racing than that," said Schroeder. "That was great fun with Boris (Said). We both deserved to wreck, driving like a bunch of idiots out there -- we were banging into each other, but that's what racing is all about."
Said started fourth but was in second by lap two, hotly pursuing Schroeder for 22 laps before making a daring inside move at the entrance of turn five, banging his way by Schroeder for the lead.
"I had a blast racing Dorsey for most of the day," said Said. "We were rubbing and banging. Really, I'm just glad to be back in the car with my new sponsor, Lion's Pride, with a chance to race again (Said sat out last week's Trois-Rivieres event due to lack of sponsorship). I had a lot of fun."
Said's lead was short-lived, however, as Schroeder blasted past Said as the cars dove into turn one on lap 34, a lead Schroeder would never relinquish in collecting the win, earning the DynoMax Turn On the Power Award for his effort.
Said continued in second until the final turn of the final lap, giving up the spot to his Roush Racing teammate Kendall, who lost two points to Schroeder in the Drivers' Championship points battle and now trails by 11, 287 to 298.
"I can't say enough about Boris being willing to move over on the last lap," said Kendall. "That type of teamwork worked against me last year at times, and I was really envious (Said drove for Gloy Racing in 1995). It's great to have that kind of cooperation on the team."
Claiming the fourth spot and scoring the highest finishing position for Chevrolet was Scott Sharp, in the #33 Rain-X Oil Energizer Camaro. Sharp started sixth and ran in the lead pack for the entire race, moving up to become the highest-finishing Chevy driver when Gentilozzi, running third, spun in turn five as a result of contact with lapped traffic and then collected Jamie Galles, who was running fourth in his #2 ICI/Glidden Camaro.
Both Gentilozzi and Galles were eliminated in the lap 34 incident, bringing out the second of two full-course cautions. No injuries were sustained in either incident.
Don Meluzio, in the #31 Manheim Auction Camaro, finished ninth in just his third career Trans- Am start to earn the Raybestos Rising Star of the Race Award, while Clint Welding, in the #49 Husky Camaro, finished 18th after starting 29th to earn the OPTIMA Batteries Quick Charger Award.
After 11 races of the 14-race 30th anniversary Trans-Am season, Schroeder leads the Drivers' Championship point standings with 298, followed by Kendall, 287; Sharp, 223; Galles, 217; Brian Simo, 207; Greg Pickett, 205; Ron Fellows, 200; Bill Saunders, 184; Gentilozzi, 183; and Said, 169.
In the Manufacturers' Championship battle, Ford takes a five-point lead over Chevrolet, 87 to 82.
The Trans-Am next competes on the 4.0-mile Road America circuit as part of the Texaco/Havoline 200 IndyCar weekend, Saturday, August 17, the series' third race in three weeks.