Cleveland -- Paul Gentilozzi ( ...
Cleveland -- Paul Gentilozzi (#3 Johnson Controls HomeLink Jaguar XKR) picked up his fourth consecutive pole of the 2001 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup season to win the Motorcity True Performance Pole Award this afternoon during Fast Five Qualifying. In addition, Gentilozzi picked up an additional key that he will use to try to win a 2002 Jaguar X-Type at the Trans-Am Series season finale in Houston.
Gentilozzi will look for his third consecutive victory of the season in tomorrow afternoon's Trans-Am Series 100 presented by Simple Green. His hot lap of 1:13.397 (103.296 mph) was recorded midway through the first qualifying session.
"The pole could have gone either way," said Gentilozzi. "Brian (Simo) and I were just a couple of tenths apart - the distance of a car length. We tested Tuesday and Wednesday in 98 degree heat until dusk, then the guys went back and worked late that night changing an engine and the differential. It's dedication by the team is what puts me in this position."
"I know that I can trust Johnny at the start tomorrow," he continued. "You hope to spread out and get everyone through the first turn. I've won a few races and you don't win them on the first lap. This is on national TV (CBS) and we've got to do a good job."
Brian Simo (#88 Tommy Bahama Qvale Mangusta) was second in qualifying, just 0.239 seconds behind Gentilozzi. Simo finished third in last year's race after beginning the day at the back of the grid.
"We didn't have much of anything for Paul as it turned out," said Simo. "Obviously, the Rocketsports team is doing a good job of preparing good, strong Jaguars. The track is very bumpy and I don't know how much tuning you can do around the bumps. It's a challenge to the driver. Cleveland always makes for a great race."
Qualifying third was Gentilozzi's teammate Johnny Miller in the #64 Automationdirect EATON Cutler Hammer Jaguar XKR. Miller, who finished second to Gentilozzi in last year's race at Cleveland, was just 0.648 seconds behind.
Rounding out the Fast Five were Justin Bell (#40 Justin Bell Motorsports Experience Chevrolet Corvette) and Tommy Archer (#36 Motorcity True Performance Dodge Viper). Bell, making his first career appearance in the Fast Five, recorded his hot lap on the last lap of the session. Archer makes his third consecutive appearance this season to round out the Fast Five.
The Trans-Am Series 100 presented by Simple Green will begin at 4:45 tomorrow afternoon. The race, part of the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by Firstar, will be broadcast by CBS Sports on Sunday July 1 at 3:30 (EDT).