CHAMPCAR/CART: Rocketsports continues legacy of speed

LANSING, Mich. - Rocketsports Racing team owner Paul Gentilozzi has built a reputation for his fast company, and the company delivered during West Coast race tour last weekend. Rocketsports drivers Scott Pruett and Alex Tagliani topped their ...

LANSING, Mich. - Rocketsports Racing team owner Paul Gentilozzi has built a reputation for his fast company, and the company delivered during West Coast race tour last weekend. Rocketsports drivers Scott Pruett and Alex Tagliani topped their respective speed charts in three separate races over the weekend, at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. and Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.

In the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, Tagliani clocked the fastest lap in the Champ Car race with a time of 1:00.875 minutes (116.442 miles per hour) on Portland's 1.967-mile road course, en route to a third-place finish. Tagliani started fifth in the No. 33 Johnson Controls Lola at Portland and went on to record his second podium effort this season.

"Paul demands the very best out of all of his teams," said Tagliani of the three-time Trans-Am Series champion. "His competitive spirit brings out the best in all of us-our mechanics, engineers and myself.

"It's been a challenge to learn how the Lola works, but once we are in the range, we can tweak the car to perform just how we want," explained Tagliani, who is competing in a Lola for the first time in his four-year Champ Car World Series career. "Slight changes make great improvements on the track and I am able to push car the further.

Meanwhile, Pruett, a two-time Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup champion in his own right, climbed to the top of the speed charts in two races at Infineon. Prior to his premature finish in the Winston Cup race at the 1.949-mile road course after contact with Kurt Busch, Pruett set the fastest single lap time of the race. Following that, Pruett did a quick driver suit change, jumped into the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR, and added the fastest race lap en route to a wire-to-wire victory in Round 5 of the Trans-Am Series championship to his record pole speed of 1:13.777 minutes, averaging 97.103 miles per hour.

"It's just great to roll off of the trailer with a great race car," said Pruett of his Jaguar XKR. "We made two shock changes, and that was it. It was great. Any time during the race, we could pick up the pace. We wanted to conserve the tires, in case (second-place finisher) Boris (Said) had anything for us at the end.

"The Winston Cup race was disappointing," added Pruett, who finished 34th in that event. "We set the fastest race lap, though, and it was nice to show those guys how it's done."

Gentilozzi, quite simply, is a racer. And his racing resume demonstrates his determination and dedication to excellence. In 2001, Gentilozzi won his third Trans-Am Series championship in four years and led Jaguar to its first manufacturers' title since 1978. Winning two-straight titles in 1998 and 1999, Gentilozzi ranks first in top three, top-five and top-10 finishes. He also ranks first in "Fast-Five" starts, laps led, fastest race laps, lead lap finishes and total winnings. He is third on the career list with 24 victories. Last year, Gentilozzi finished third in the Trans-Am Series championship after winning the thrilling season opener at Long Beach and went on to collect eight top-five and 10 top-ten finishes.

"Racing is a competitive business," said Gentilozzi. "We only hire the best and the brightest, and it's racers like Scott and Alex that exemplify what I look for in any venture. Both are fast drivers, but moreover, both are smart drivers. Add to that their successful track records, and it becomes obvious just how great Rocketsports Racing is."

The Champ Car World Series and Trans-Am Series will compete together on the same racing card, Thursday-Saturday, July 3-5, at the U.S. Bank Presents the Cleveland Grand Prix. Although Pruett and Tagliani will compete on different days, in different cars at the Burke Lakefront Airport, both will showcase the legacy of speed that is an integral part of Rocketsports Racing.

Round 9 of the 2003 Champ Car World Series title chase, the first night race at Cleveland, is scheduled for Saturday, July 5, beginning at 8:30 p.m. That race airs on a tape-delayed basis on CBS on July 6, at 3:30 p.m. Round 6 of the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup championship is scheduled for Friday, July 4, at approximately 5:40 p.m., and will air on a tape-delayed basis on SPEED Channel on Sunday, July 6 at 3:30 p.m.

-rsr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Trans-Am
Drivers Kurt Busch , Scott Pruett , Paul Gentilozzi