Homestead; Al Rocca to carry "Spirit of Miami" colors

MIAMI (May 2, 2000) -- Long-time Miami resident Al Rocca hopes to have a hometown advantage Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, when he pilots "The Spirit of Miami" Acura in the three-hour Motorola Cup event during the Grand-Am Nextel 250 ...

MIAMI (May 2, 2000) -- Long-time Miami resident Al Rocca hopes to have a hometown advantage Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, when he pilots "The Spirit of Miami" Acura in the three-hour Motorola Cup event during the Grand-Am Nextel 250 weekend.

Coming off a strong second place finish at Phoenix, Rocca and Andy Linder are looking to gain points in the battle for the Sports Touring division championship.

"We will try to show our competitive spirit down here," said Rocca, who owns and operates Mailink, a Miami Lakes-based direct mail company which deals with the automotive industry. "We came out of Phoenix third in the points, only a stone's throw from the championship lead."

Henry Bradly of Miami is team manager for the Power Team Acura, with the team engineer, Tulio Gomez, also from Miami.

Rocca is making his return from racing after a 10-year absence. His last race was a fifth place finish in the Camel Lights division of the Miami Grand Prix, co-driving a Spice with Tomas Lopez.

"I said to myself at the beginning of the year, it's now or never," said the 45-year-old Rocca. "Lance Stewart (of Coconut Grove), who won the championship last year, helped me get the ride. I'm a little rusty, but I've still got what it takes."

Lopez drove in the recent Ferrari Club Challenge weekend in his only driving experience at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"I drove a few laps in a car owned by The Collection," Rocca explained. "I think the track is definitely going to benefit our setup. I'm confident we can do a number here.

"When I came to Miami for the Grand Prix, I felt that was as good as it gets. The spirit we had down here was incredible. I think we can regain that real easily with the new Grand-Am series. We have the right people behind the series, so there's a good chance of reviving road racing down here."

The Motorola Cup race, which starts at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, features a 60-car field led by Corvettes, Vipers, Porsches, BMWs, Lexuses and Toyotas. Sunday's Grand-Am Nextel 250 brings together the high-powered SportsRacers with GT sports cars in a 104-lap race on the 2.4-mile road circuit.

Tickets for the debut of the Grand American Road Racing Association begin at $5 for an unreserved Friday grandstand seat and $10 for Saturday. Sunday grandstand seats cost $15, with weekend paddock passes $20. Children 12 and under are free in both the grandstand and paddock when accompanied by a paid adult.

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Lance Stewart