Gentilozzi tops close field in Trans-Am qualifying at Mid-Ohio LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Paul Gentilozzi, of Lansing, Mich., captured his sixth pole of the 2001 SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup season, and will start first...
Gentilozzi tops close field in Trans-Am qualifying at Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Paul Gentilozzi, of Lansing, Mich., captured his sixth pole of the 2001 SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup season, and will start first for Saturday's Round Nine race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., and Tony Ave, of Hurley, Wis., completed the top three.
Driving the No. 3 Johnson Controls/Homelink Jaguar XKR, Gentilozzi recovered from a mid-session spin to take his 26th career pole, breaking a tie with Scott Sharp to put him second on the career leader's list. Gentilozzi's lap of 1:24.835 (95.819 mph) was 0.420-second ahead of Archer's No. 36 Motor City Performance Dodge Viper.
"I didn't think we were going to get the pole, I thought Tommy [Archer] would," said Gentilozzi, who extended his point lead to 21 over teammate Johnny Miller. "You gotta' be a real race car driver to get around here fast. Look at the Fast Five qualifiers--five different brands with good, experienced drivers. That says a lot about the Trans-Am Series."
When asked if thoughts of a third Drivers' Championship would pre-occupy his thoughts and change his driving style during qualifying or the race, Gentilozzi was quick to say "no."
"I lost a Championship last year being conservative," he said. "I needed 12 points in two races, raced sissy and I lost it. I'm not going to do that again."
Archer starts on the front row for the second time in three races, and credited a pre-qualifying change with his success.
"We keep working on the little blue car and it keeps getting better," said Archer. "This morning in practice, she didn't want to dance and we were eighth, but we made some changes and it worked this afternoon."
Ave was the surprise story in the No. 4 Tom Gloy Racing Qvale Mangusta, making the debut of the team's new Riley & Scott chassis in his first start of 2001. He turned a lap of 1:25.290 (95.308 mph), but was not completely satisfied with the run.
"The new car was great, but as much as I was complaining after being third, there must be a lot more there," said Ave. "It's really good so far. I came out of the pits and wasn't able to find the gap [in traffic] that I'd hoped for."
Justin Bell, of London, England, equaled his career best qualifying effort in his Chevrolet Corvette in fourth, followed by the Panoz Esperante of Boris Said, of Carlsbad, Calif.
Jaguar has a good chance at clinching the 2001 Trans-Am Series Manufacturers' Championship with a finish Saturday with two races remaining. It last won a Trans-Am title in 1978, with Bob Tullius driving a Jaguar XJS.