Paul Gentilozzi Houston preview

Gentilozzi Poised To Clinch Third Trans-Am Championship At Season Finale In Houston Houston, Texas - Two-time Trans-Am Series champion Paul Gentilozzi intends to clinch his third Trans-Am Drivers' Championship at the season finale of the...

Gentilozzi Poised To Clinch Third Trans-Am Championship At Season Finale In Houston

Houston, Texas - Two-time Trans-Am Series champion Paul Gentilozzi intends to clinch his third Trans-Am Drivers' Championship at the season finale of the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup during the Texaco/Havoline Houston Grand Prix weekend October 5-6. Gentilozzi, driver of the No.3 HomeLink/Microchip Jaguar XKR, has a 27-point lead and needs only to finish 19th should his teammate Johnny Miller, in second place, win the race and collect all potential bonus points.

Should he win his third championship, he'd be the only driver to win three Trans-Am titles in three different marques - his first in 1998 in a Chevy Corvette, his second in 1999 in a Ford Mustang, and this season in a Jaguar XKR. Gentilozzi, who has 23 Trans-Am wins, would join Mark Donohue and Tommy Kendall as the only drivers to have won three or more Trans-Am championships.

Last season, Gentilozzi entered the San Diego season finale with a 16-point lead, but a fluke mechanical failure robbed him of his third consecutive title. "You can never erase that, but you do put it out of your mind," said Gentilozzi, who has four wins and four additional podium finishes so far. "We've got a wider points margin here, but we're still focused on not having something similar happen."

Gentilozzi's Houston race last year was also eventful. While leading, Gentilozzi was tagged by Brian Simo forcing a pit stop to change a cut tire. Rejoining the race in 21st place, he drove back to win. But a post-race penalty for too many crew over the wall during the stop moved him back to sixth.

"The fans know who won that race," quipped Gentilozzi. "That's just history now. If anything, that deal just motivates me more. Besides, none of those officials are still with the Series."

Despite last year's disappointment, Gentilozzi looks forward to a return visit. "It's an interesting track with its width and speed," explained Gentilozzi, who ranks first in all-time Trans-Am top-three (55), top-five (85) and top-ten (112) finishes. "Every lap is like a qualifying lap. With all the walls and fencing, the focus is on where the car should be. Everything that matters is visible within 30-40 feet.

"The rhythm is very repeatable," said Gentilozzi who clinched Jaguar's first Manufacturers' title since 1978 with his win at Mid-Ohio. "This is actually less distracting than a natural permanent circuit.

"My race strategy will depend on how we qualify," concluded Gentilozzi. "But I won't put myself in jeopardy. We've got a championship on the line and that's our most important consideration."

-Rocket Motorsports/GRM-

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About this article
Series SCCA , Trans-Am
Drivers Brian Simo , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller , Tommy Kendall