LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Paul Gentilozzi, of Lansing, Mich., captured his fourth SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup race win in dominating fashion at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, part of the ALMS/Trans-Am/NeOhio National ...
LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Paul Gentilozzi, of Lansing, Mich., captured his fourth SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup race win in dominating fashion at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, part of the ALMS/Trans-Am/NeOhio National Weekend. Rookie Justin Bell, of London, England, was second, followed by Boris Said, of Carlsbad, Calif.
Driving the No. 3 Johnson Controls/Homelink Jaguar XJR, Gentilozzi started from the pole, led all laps and set the race's fastest lap to take the Simple Green "Clean Up" award and it's $12,500 bonus. Gentilozzi averaged 72.479 mph over the 45-lap, 101.25-mile event to beat Bell to the checkered flag by 1.303 seconds.
The win clinched the 2001 Trans-Am Series Manufacturers' Championship for Jaguar, which last won the title in 1978, with Bob Tullius driving a Jaguar XJS. Gentilozzi also extended his point lead in the quest of the BFGoodrich Tires Cup to 33 over teammate Johnny Miller.
"This was just a spectacular event," said Gentilozzi. "It's special for me because the first road race I ever attended was here. The first time I raced here, I cleared out part of the woods and they had to get me out with a chainsaw.
"Toward the end, I just forced myself to go and not look in the mirrors. Justin [Bell] started to close in in the end, and Boris has a lot of [experience]. This pack of guys are really great drivers."
Bell started fourth in the No. 40 Justin Bell Motorsports Experience Chevrolet Corvette, and had a rollercoaster race which saw him fall out of the top five at one point, but resurge to pass Said for second in the race's closing laps.
Bell's run gave him enough points to clinch the 2001 AmeriSuites Rookie of the Year Award.
"I had a good start, and I was running with them for a while," said Bell, whose previous best finish was third at Portland. "At first, I was wondering what tires everyone was on because they didn't seem to be the same as mine. When I finally got around Boris [Said], he immediately gave me a little bump to say 'you got by me, but there's a reason you got by me.'
"I'm in really good company as the top rookie because of all the great American drivers who have won this award. I think this is the best racing series in North America, and hope to be around for a while." After lining up fifth in the No. 33 Applied Computer Solutions Panoz Esperante, Said battled with Bell, Michael Lewis, Tony Ave and, finally, outside pole qualifier Tommy Archer to move into second place. Bell's move at the end of the back straight on lap 40 dropped him to third, which Said held on to for the final five laps to equal the best finish for the Panoz. "I got a little hot today, and didn't want to see those yellows," said Said. "My hat's off to Paul [Gentilozzi], he ran me clean. Congratulations to Justin; he got by me, we rubbed a little and traded some paint, but that's what the Trans-Am Series is all about. It's good fun racing--bumping and banging."
Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka, Minn., finished fourth after starting sixth, followed by Road America winner Michael Lewis, of San Diego, Calif., who started eighth. Johnny Miller, Lou Gigliotti, Archer (who broke a header during the race), Tomy Drissi and Stu Hayner completed the top-10. Dan Miller earned the MSD Hard Charger Award, and Gentilozzi took the BFGoodrich Tires "Take Control" Award.