Watkins Glen: Trans-Am 'ringers' preview

Trans-Am 'ringers' ready to take on NASCAR's best WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Several of the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup's finest drivers will take on all the NASCAR Winston Cup field has to offer, during the Sirius at the Glen, ...

Trans-Am 'ringers' ready to take on NASCAR's best

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Several of the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup's finest drivers will take on all the NASCAR Winston Cup field has to offer, during the Sirius at the Glen, scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 10 at Watkins Glen International. Two-time Trans-Am Series champion Scott Pruett, Johnny Miller, defending Trans-Am Series champion Boris Said, Paul Menard, and Trans-Am Series alumni Robby Gordon and Ron Fellows are slated to compete at the 2.45-mile upstate New York road course.

No stranger to Winston Cup competition, Miller made his Winston Cup Series debut earlier this season at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Miller finished 24th in that event, on the lead lap, and will return to Morgan McClure Motorsports' No. 04 Kodak Pontiac Grand Prix this weekend.

During a recent test at Watkins Glen, Miller recorded the ninth fastest time of the 17 drivers shaking down their cars. In fact, Miller was faster than current Winston Cup points leader Matt Kenseth and 2000 Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte.

Yet, Miller, who regularly drives the No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR in the Trans-Am Series, admits he's just honored to be here.

"It's a humbling thing for me to get into a Winston Cup car, considering I had absolutely no experience," said Miller. "The deal at Infineon was truly amazing, and finishing well was a big bonus.

"Everybody immediately compares me to Scott Pruett, Boris Said and Ron Fellows, but what they don't realize is those guys have been racing Winston Cup cars at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen for years," added Miller, who currently sits second in Trans-Am Series points on the merit of four podium finishes and one victory, his career second, this season. "The first two or three years, they didn't get it. They struggled.

"To look at all of these guys in this garage...they've been racing here for many years," continued Miller. "To even be here is an honor. To run with them, and run competitively, is also an honor, but also quite an accomplishment. I'm just glad to have the chance."

Miller credited his eight years of Trans-Am Series experience with helping him accelerate his learning curve in the Winston Cup Series.

"I think the Trans-Am racing has helped me," said Miller. "People don't know just how aggressive the Trans-Am Series is, and how hard you have to work to win. Look at the drivers who came out of the Trans-Am Series--they are frontrunners in other series, including Winston Cup.

"I think if I had a few more years in this car, I'd really do well," concluded Miller.

Meanwhile, Pruett is definitely seeking success Watkins Glen. Pruett, who regularly drives the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR in the Trans-Am Series, will compete in the No. 09 Target Dodge Intrepid R/T for Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates at Watkins Glen. Pruett finished 34th at Infineon earlier this year after contact with Kurt Busch while he was running sixth.

"We definitely have a score to settle at Watkins Glen," said Pruett. "We missed our mark at the test, and had to go back to the drawing board. The team worked very hard to get the car into shape. I have every confidence in the world we'll do well at Watkins Glen."

Said, who has made three Trans-Am Series starts this season in the No. 33 ACS Express Racing Ford Mustang, during which he won once, at Long Beach, and posted runner-up finishes twice, is ready to back up his history-making day at Infineon. Said earned his first Winston Cup pole at Infineon in June, and set the track record in the process, driving the No. 01 Army Pontiac Grand Prix. Said finished sixth in that event, a career best in Winston Cup competition.

Menard, who finished 10th in his sole Trans-Am Series start this season in the No. 99 ACS Express Racing Ford Mustang, is set to compete at The Glen in the No. 33 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Menard made five starts in last year's Trans-Am Series tour.

Gordon, a Winston Cup regular in the No. 31 Cingular Chevrolet Monte Carlo, won in his lone Trans-Am Series start, in 1992 at Long Beach. During his 11-year Trans-Am Series career, beginning in 1987, Fellows recorded 19 wins in 96 starts, and is currently tied for sixth with Pruett on the Trans-Am all-time win list. Fellows will drive the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo at Watkins Glen this weekend. Fellows is no stranger to victory lane here, having won three Busch Series events and two Craftsman Truck Series events.

The Sirius at the Glen is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. and will air LIVE on NBC.

The next race for the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup, Round 8 of this year's championship, is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 24 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. That race will air on same-day, tape-delayed basis on SPEED at 12:30 p.m. The Trans-Am Series is America's oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 38th anniversary in 2003.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Boris Said , Robby Gordon , Kurt Busch , Ron Fellows , Scott Pruett , Johnny Miller , Paul Menard , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing